BC Energy Step Code for new buildings


Kelowna’s Energy Step Code Implementation Strategy was endorsed by Council on May 6, 2019 for Part 9 residential buildings, with the following key dates:

  • Dec. 1, 2019: Step 1 implementation. Part 9 residential buildings, as set out in the BC Building Code, must be designed and constructed to meet or exceed Step 1 performance requirements of the BC Energy Step Code.
  • June 1, 2021: Step 3 implementation. Part 9 residential buildings, as set out in the BC Building Code, must be designed and constructed to meet or exceed Step 3 performance requirements of the BC Energy Step Code.

In addition, an implementation timeline for Part 3 buildings is currently under development.

The Energy Step Code is a provincial policy that aims to create healthier, more efficient, and more comfortable buildings. It marks an end to the prescriptive approach to achieving energy efficiency in newly constructed buildings. Instead, a building's performance must be proven, through whole building energy modelling and on-site airtightness testing.  This modelling and testing validates how the design and constructed building meet performance targets associated with each 'Step.' The Energy Step Code will require that builders familiarize themselves with the performance pathway in order to achieve compliance with the BC Building Code.


What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code establishes a set of incremental performance steps for new buildings (e.g., airtightness, building envelope, equipment and systems) that support the national and provincial direction towards net-zero energy buildings as outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework and the provincial CleanBC plan. A net-zero energy ready building is designed and built to reduce energy needs to a minimum such that with the inclusion of on-site renewable energy systems, the building has the ability to produce as much energy as it consumes on a yearly basis.

The Step Code forms a framework by which the construction industry, over time, “steps up” the performance of their buildings to the net-zero energy ready level that must be achieved by 2032. The CleanBC Plan sets the direction for updates to the BC Building Code, so that all new buildings across the province will be:

  • 20 per cent more efficient by 2022 (approximately equivalent to Step 3 for Part 9 buildings)
  • 40 per cent more energy efficient by 2027 (approximately equivalent to Step 4 for Part 9 buildings)
  • 80 per cent more energy efficient by 2032 (net-zero energy ready)  (approximately equivalent to Step 5 for Part 9 buildings)
City requirements and when they come into effect

Between May 20 and Nov. 30, 2019, Kelowna builders can voluntarily build to the Energy Step Code, making them eligible for City of Kelowna building permit rebates and New Home Construction Rebates

Starting Dec. 1, 2019, all Part 9 residential buildings will be required to at minimum meet the performance requirements of Step 1 of the Energy Step Code. Starting June 1, 2021, Step 3 will be required as the minimum.

 Building permit application date
Building typeUntil Nov. 30, 2019Effective Dec. 1, 2019Effective June 1, 2021
Part 9 residential buildingsNo Step Code requirement.  Rebates are available for voluntary complianceStep 1Step 3
Part 3 buildingsAn implementation timeline for Part 3 buildings is currently under development.

Compliance with the Energy Step Code in Kelowna is outlined on our BC Building Code Energy Efficiency Requirements webpage. 

What it means for home builders

Step 1 is designed to familiarize builders with measuring energy efficiency. Builders will need to use a whole-building energy model to calculate the energy consumption of their buildings as well as have a building airtightness test done (i.e. a blower door test).  However, the construction of the building remains the same as conventional construction, and it only needs to meet the performance of the base BC Building Code.

Performance targets increase for Steps 2 to 5 for airtightness, maximum energy used by the buildings equipment and systems, and maximum thermal energy demand.

Compliance with the Energy Step Code in Kelowna is outlined on our  BC Building Code Energy Efficiency Requirements webpage

To illustrate, Figure 1 outlines the various steps associated with Part 9 buildings.

figure showing the Energy Step Code steps


Rebates for new construction

The City of Kelowna offers Building Permit rebates for Part 9 residential buildings.  Until November 30, 2019 builders are eligible for rebates to become familiar with the new Step Code procedures and using an Energy Advisor.  The City also offers Building Permit rebates to those builders achieving Steps 4 or 5.

 City of Kelowna Building Permit Rebate
Energy Advisor Support$500 for engaging an Energy Advisor for modelling and final blower door test*
Step 2-
Step 3-
Step 4$500**
Step 5$1,000**
*Available until Nov. 30, 2019.  Maximum 10 rebates per builder.
**Available until May 31, 2021.

FortisBC also offers rebates at each Step for Part 9 residential buildings. These rebates range from $500 to $8,000.  Additional rebates are available for appliances and high-efficiency water heaters. Visit the New Home Construction Rebates website for more information and eligibility requirements.

For Part 3 construction, FortisBC offers rebates up to $500,000.  Visit the Commercial New Construction Performance Incentives website for details.

Learn about other rebates and incentives that may be available to you by visiting the provincial Better Homes BC website.

Finding an energy advisor

Energy Advisors are third-party consultants who have been registered by Service Organizations licensed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to deliver NRCan’s EnerGuide Rating System (ERS), ENERGY STAR® for New Homes and R-2000 programs. An Energy Advisor can provide both energy modelling and airtightness testing – the two compliance services needed to demonstrate compliance under the BC Energy Step Code for Part 9 buildings.

For a list of licensed Energy Advisors that service the Kelowna area, visit the Better Homes BC provincial website.

Council Reports related to Energy Step Code


Upcoming events

The following training sessions to prepare for the Energy Step Code are being offered in Kelowna:

  • October 15.  Energy Step Code Builder Breakfast Series
    Check back for details on this monthly breakfast series hosted by the CHBA that provides information on the Energy Step Code.
  • October 30.  Zero Energy Building (ZEB) for a Complex World
    Black Box Theatre, 1375 Water Street
    Register in advance, fee required
    Earn up to 20 CPD points in this hands-on course where students will develop their knowledge of building science, airtightness strategies, and assembly details to meet the BC Energy Step Code for Part 9 buildings.  The course is intended for builders, tradespeople and building officials, and previous training on high performance enclosures and the Energy Step Code is encouraged.