BC Energy Step Code for new buildings


The Energy Step Code is now in effect 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

Effective 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 typeEffective Dec. 1, 2019Effective June 1, 2021
Part 9 residential buildingsStep 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. 

Kelowna builders can voluntarily build beyond Step 1 of the Energy Step Code, making them eligible for New Home Construction Rebates and/or City of Kelowna building permit rebates.

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 to those builders achieving Steps 4 or 5.

 City of Kelowna Building Permit Rebate
Step 4$500**
Step 5$1,000**
**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 related to the Energy Step Code are being offered in our area:

  • Building to Net-Zero: Constructing Affordable Step Code Buildings in the Okanagan
    February, 18, Okanagan Centre for Innovation, Kelowna
    Join professionals across the construction industry at this FREE half-day workshop and discover how collaborations are achieving affordable building efficiency in the Okanagan.  You will learn about regional industry partnerships that support the development of energy efficient buildings, how research and training strengthens local collaborations, and explore opportunities and best practices in implementing the BC Energy Step Code.  Advanced registration is required at buildingnetzero.eventbrite.com.  (4.5 CPD points)
  • BC Step Code Airtightness Training Course
    February 25, Penticton          February 26, Kelowna          February 27, Kamloops
    This workshop covers airtightness from top to bottom in a day.  Starting with a short discussion on what an air barrier is, and how to define it on your poject, the workshop quickly becomes hands-on.  The workshop details how an air barrier is made, how it fits at a ceiling junction, how it connects to the foundation or slab, how it works around balconies, decks and overhangs, and how it connects to plumbing, sprinklers and vents. Visit Small Planet Supply for registration details.  (6 CPD points)
  • CHBA-CO Energy Step Code Builder Breakfast Series
    Check CHBA-CO for details on this informative breakfast series on the Energy Step Code.