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Energy Step Code

The Province has committed to taking incremental steps to increase energy-efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code to make buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032. The BC Energy Step Code--a part of the BC Building Code--supports that effort.

What is it? The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard enacted in April 2017 that provides an incremental and consistent approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings that go beyond the requirements of the base BC Building Code. It does so by establishing a series of measurable, performance-based energy-efficiency requirements for construction that builders can choose to build to, and communities may voluntarily choose to adopt in bylaws and policies.

Why do we have it? In addition to supporting long-term improvements in energy efficiency in the BC Building Code, the BC Energy Step Code will improve the consistency of building regulations in the Province. The Energy Step Code is a single provincial standard that replaces the patchwork of different green building standards that have been required or encouraged by local governments in the past. This will allow local governments to continue to play a leadership role in improving energy efficiency, while providing a single standard for industry and build capacity over time.

How does it work? The BC Energy Step Code takes a new, performance-based approach rather than the traditional prescriptive approach. The BC Energy Step Code does not specify how to construct a building, but identifies an energy-efficiency target that must be met and lets the designer/builder decide how to meet it.

To comply with the BC Energy Step Code, builders must use energy modelling software and on-site testing to demonstrate that both their design and the constructed building meet the requirements of the BC Energy Step Code. The new standard empowers builders to pursue innovative, creative, cost-effective solutions, and allows them to incorporate leading-edge technologies as they come available.

The BC Energy Step Code also supports consumer choice, by allowing designers and builders to use natural gas, electricity, or other energy sources for their project without imposing a penalty on this decision. This fuel-neutral approach provides builders with the flexibility to make energy-efficient buildings using all available technologies.

Is it required? The BC Energy Step Code is currently a voluntary standard builders across B.C. can use. In addition, local governments can choose to require or encourage builders to meet one or more steps of the BC Energy Step Code as an alternative to the BC Building Code’s prescriptive requirements.

When does it take effect? The BC Energy Step Code came into force in April 2017 so builders have the option of building to the requirements in the Energy Step Code at any time. Local governments can set bylaw requirements for builders to meet one or more steps effective December 15, 2017 (when local governments’ authority to set technical building requirements by bylaw will change under the Building Act).

Source:  Province of British Columbia


The Capital Regional District in collaboration with some regional local governments participated in engagement of building industry and key stakeholders on the BC Energy Step Code in the fall, 2017.  This included providing information and raising awareness of the BC Energy Step Code and gathering feedback on the opportunities, concerns and potential approach for local implementation, including Step level, timeline and support required.  The District filed an initial notice of consultation with the Province in October, 2017 concurrent with these engagement sessions.  Council was invited to the Energy Step Code consultations which the District of North Saanich co-sponsored with the City of Victoria and District of Saanich, Capital Regional District, UDI-Capital Region, CHBA – Vancouver Island and VICA.  These consultation sessions are considered the initial steps of consultation on the energy step code.  Several developers and builders attended who build regionally. 

The recommended approach considers feedback received during the consultations which included a preference for a consistent approach, if possible, across the region.  A performance approach is already an option for complying with the energy efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code. This approach establishes a desired outcome, allowing flexibility for the design and builders to determine how performance will be achieved.  The District of North Saanich Council has directed staff to:

1. further consult with the development community and key stakeholders on the proposed approach to the Energy Step Code implementation as outlined in the March 22, 2018 staff report (posted below) through the consultation partnership already established with the City of Victoria and the District of Saanich; and
2. prepare amending bylaws and options for implementation of the BC Energy Step Code as outlined in the Recommended Approach section of the March 22, 2018 staff report. 


For new Part 9 Buildings:
  i. Meet Step 1 by November 1, 2018
  ii. Meet Step 3 by January 1, 2020 (excluding small dwellings less than 989.9 ft²)
  iii. All buildings less than 989.9 ft²  (92 m²) to meet step 2 by January 1, 2020
  iv. Partnerships to consider a rebate program for builders to provide some funding support for the use of an energy advisor, to conduct a mid-construction blower-door test, and a post-construction verification blower-door test including the completion of the compliance report


For new Part 3 Buildings:
  i. Meet Step 1 by November 1, 2018
  ii. Meet Step 3 by January 3, 2020

Related documents are below:

Staff Report (Mar 22/18): Energy Step Code For Information & Decision
- Appendix A - CRD Energy Step Code Program Activities & Key Findings
- Appendix B - Step Code FAQ
- Appendix C - Capital Region Building Industry Engagement Summary
2018-03-26 COW Meeting
Presentation: CRD BC Energy Step Code Workshop Series 2017-11-30