April 18, 2019

The BC Energy Step Code: A Step in the Right Direction

BC Energy Step Code Wallmark Homes


What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code is a proposed regulation from the Government of British Columbia concerning the BC Building Code to ensure optimal levels of efficiency are achieved when building a new home, with the aim of being Net-Zero Energy Ready by the year 2032. The Government of BC has decided to break it down into a step system process in order to gradually improve energy efficiency into our environment. As the step number increases, the building code requirements become increasingly stringent in terms of energy use, thermal energy demand and airtightness.



How does it work?

In simple terms, the BC Energy Step Code sets out a series of measurable energy efficiency requirements that builders must adhere to. It is broken down into a series of five steps; the higher the step, the more energy efficient the home. For example, currently Step 1 requires that new buildings meet existing requirements that are already established in the BC Building Code.


What does it measure?

The BC Energy Step Code measures the building’s energy efficiency in two different ways: a whole-building performance simulation is used to evaluate the Building Envelope Metrics and the Equipment/Systems Metrics; a blower door test is used to evaluate the Airtightness Metric.


What is the benefit of all of this?

Aside from reducing our emissions on this planet, it is the end consumer who will benefit greatly from a highly efficient home. Their homes will require less energy, and hence, their utility bills will also be significantly smaller than before. Other benefits include: the temperature throughout the home will also be more moderate thereby more comfortable, fresh air is circulated throughout the home for added health benefits and the home are also notably more soundproof than others.


What does each step entail?

As mentioned, the BC Energy Step Code is broken down into 5 steps for Single Family Homes; with Step 1 being the lowest and Step 5 being the most energy efficient, and basically a Net Zero Energy Home. 

Step 1: Often called “enhanced compliance” as it simply requires builders to demonstrate they have achieved the energy efficiency requirements that are already established in the current BC Building Code. In today’s homes, it can sometimes be referred to as a Built Green Bronze home or a home with an EnerGuide rating of 72.

Step 2: This step can be achieved by typically using the same available materials however, the building’s airtightness will need to be significantly improved in order to become at least 10 percent more efficient than noted in Step 1. Some examples of suggestions include: designing a lower overall window-to-wall ratio, improve window performance and improving the heat-recovery efficiency. These homes are typically called Built Green Silver homes or have an EnerGuide rating of 75.

Step 3: This home is at least 20 percent more efficient than Step 1 and can be achieved by taking on a more integrated approach by reducing the thermal bridging, in addition to the requirements from Step 2. In this step, homes are referred to today as being ENERGY STAR, Built Green Gold or Platinum status or having an EnerGuide rating between 77 – 82.

Step 4: In order to achieve Step 4, homes undergo more rigorous energy efficiency and airtightness requirements, with a lot of emphasis placed on the building envelope structure. At this step, heat recovery efficiency needs to be at least 80%, along with triple glazed windows and eliminate all existing thermal bridges, resulting in the home being 40 percent more efficient than Step 1. In today’s standards, these homes are called R2000 homes.

Step 5: This is the final destination as the home is now considered a Net-Zero Energy Ready home. In other words, the total amount of energy use by the building is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created. These homes are commonly referred to as Passive House.


Check out the infographic below for Single Family Homes:

 BC Energy Step Code Wallmark Homes 


We hope you enjoyed learning all about the BC Energy Step Code. This is going to change the way we build homes for the future, and we cannot wait to share them with you!


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