As of August 1, 2020, applications for new construction in Pitt Meadows will be required to meet Step 1 (the minimum standards) of the B.C. Energy Step Code.
The Energy Step Code provides an incremental approach to:
- improving the energy efficiency of new buildings; and
- ensuring that all new construction in B.C. will be “net zero energy ready” (i.e. up to 80 per cent more energy efficient than the current base B.C. Building Code) by 2032.
The Energy Step Code establishes energy-efficiency targets at each level or “Step”, and designers or builders can work with a certified Energy Advisor and decide how to meet them.
The City is implementing the Energy Step Code gradually to allow builders and developers to become familiar with higher performance construction and airtightness testing before implementing higher Steps.
Introducing Step 1 in Pitt Meadows will affect all building permit applications received on or after August 1.
Why is this important?
The Energy Step Code provides a single set of building standards to improve the consistency of B.C.’s building regulations and guide future updates of the B.C. Building Code.
Some of the benefits of implementing the Energy Step Code are:
- reducing energy bills and providing greater comfort for homeowners and building occupants;
- supporting energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction policies in the City’s Official Community Plan;
- ensuring that new construction meets proposed increases in energy efficiency requirements in the B.C. Building Code: increasing energy efficiency of new homes by 20 per cent by 2022 and 40 per cent by 2027.
The Energy Step Code applies to two types of buildings defined in the BC Building Code:
Part 9 Buildings - houses and small buildings (maximum of 3 storeys with a maximum of 600 square metres of building area)
Part 3 Buildings - large and complex buildings (4 storeys or taller with greater than 600 square metres of building area)
The BC Energy Step Code sets requirements for new construction, and groups them into “Steps”, which each represent an increase in energy efficiency performance.
The following is the City’s timeline for implementing the Energy Step Code:
Incentives and Rebates
Several incentive programs have been introduced to encourage voluntary compliance with higher steps in the Energy Step Code. These include:
- The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Green Home Program, which offers a 15 or 25-per cent refund on mortgage loan insurance premiums for purchasers of energy-efficient homes.
- Fortis BC New Home Program rebates ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 for constructing to Step 2 to 4 of the Energy Step Code for Part 9 residential buildings. Additional rebates are available for appliances and high-efficiency water heaters.
- Fortis BC commercial new construction performance incentives for Part 3 buildings.
Rebates for homes
- Visit Better Homes BC to find rebates for building or renovating a home.
- Try the rebate search tool.
- Connect with an Energy Coach, a free coaching service for homeowners and commercial building owners and managers in B.C.
Rebates and incentives for commercial buildings
- Visit Better Buildings BC to find incentives for new commercial buildings or renovations.
Applications for new buildings, rezoning, development permits, development variance permits or building permits with detailed design drawings that are received prior to August 1, 2020 will be considered in-stream.
As long as a full and complete building permit application (as determined by the City) has been submitted prior to August 1, 2020, construction will only need to meet the BC Building Code energy standards in place at the time of the application.
No, the Energy Step Code only applies to new construction in Pitt Meadows beginning in August 1, 2020.
The Energy Step Code establishes performance-based requirements for energy-efficient construction. What this mean is that, builders must demonstrate that their buildings meet energy modelling and airtightness targets to comply with the various steps of the Energy Step Code.
Step 1 requires modelling energy performance and measuring airtightness to ensure that a building will meet or exceed the minimum energy efficiency requirements in the base BC Building Code.
Builders can continue to use conventional construction techniques and still meet Step 1 requirements, but will need to:
The City requires scheduling a mid-stage blower door test, so builders can correct deficiencies prior to the building completion.
In homes, a blower door test will be used to evaluate airtightness. To perform the test, a technician closes all doors and vents, and temporarily installs an air barrier in a doorway that uses an integrated fan. The fan changes the pressure inside the building, allowing the technician to measure how quickly air is entering or leaving the building via cracks and leaks.
When Step 1 of the Energy Step Code is implemented, a blower door test will be required at mid-construction and prior to occupancy.
A mid-construction airtightness is performed before drywall has been installed and when a construction team can still identify and inexpensively seal any holes or gaps in the building envelope.
Building inspectors will still inspect buildings to ensure they meet the BC Building Code requirements. In addition to this, a Compliance Report by a certified Energy Advisor will be required to make sure buildings meet airtightness and other building requirements.
To achieve the Lower Steps builders and designers can continue to use conventional building designs, but will need to incorporate:
- careful air-sealing practices, and
- other key elements in design, building envelope, and equipment and systems to meet energy efficiency requirements.
To achieve the Upper Steps, builders and designers will need to:
- adopt a more integrated approach to building design, and
- may need to incorporate more substantial changes in building design, layout, framing techniques, system selection and materials.
These techniques and materials will be more costly and challenging without additional training and experience.
Builders and designers are advised to collaborate with a certified Energy Advisor for Part 9 buildings and building envelope consultants/building scientists for Part 3 buildings to find the most cost-effective way to meet the requirements.
The Energy Step Code was developed by the Province of B.C. in collaboration with other organizations and representatives from the Union of BC Municipalities, BC Construction Association, Canadian Home Builders’ Association, Urban Development Institute, BC Housing, and the Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
Certified Energy Advisors, who have been registered by service organizations that are licensed by Natural Resources Canada can provide both energy modelling and airtightness testing to demonstrate compliance for Part 9 (residential) buildings under the BC Energy Step Code.
Building envelope consultants and building scientists provide both energy modelling and airtightness testing for Part 3 (large, complex) buildings.
Buildings constructed to higher energy standards are more durable and provide occupants with benefits including:
- Lower energy bills,
- Reduced noise, due to airtightness and better insulation,
- Improved health through managing fresh air throughout the building, and
- Improved comfort through better temperature regulation.
Higher performance buildings also help reduce the community’s overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
A study commissioned by the Province of B.C. demonstrated that the requirements of the lower steps in the Energy Step Code could be met with modest construction cost increases:
- For builders, achieving the majority of the steps for new houses should result in an increase in capital costs of less than two per cent above the cost of conventional construction.
- For homeowners, the added costs will be offset by lower operating (i.e. heating) costs.
The upper steps may generate higher cost premiums. City staff have recommended delaying adoption of Steps 4 and 5 to enable the building industry to build capacity prior to implementation.
This is a Province-wide program voluntary compliance program and, so far, 60 municipalities have begun implementing the Step Code through policies, programs or bylaws.
Similar approaches to implementing the steps have been adopted by:
- City of Burnaby
- City of Richmond
- City of Surrey
- City of New Westminster
- City of Abbotsford
Requiring and incentivizing increased energy efficiency for new buildings is consistent with policies in the City's Official Community Plan (OCP) related to:
- water and energy conservation;
- environmental impacts of future development; and
- community building reduction initiatives.
In addition, the Energy Step Code aligns with new policies to address energy efficiency, energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reduction in the City’s updated OCP, which is expected to be adopted summer 2020.
- Incentive programs
- Additional resources for industry
- BC Energy Compliance Reports
- Find an Energy Advisor
BC Energy Step Code technical training series videos:
- Session 1: Introduction to the Energy Step Code
- Session 2: The Energy Step Code for Part 9 buildings
BC Housing publications:
- BC Energy Step Code Builder Guide
- BC Energy Step Code Design Guide
- An Illustrated Guide to Achieving Airtight Buildings