BC Step Code (Energy + Zero Carbon)

What is the Step Code? There are now two different Step Codes as part of the BC Building Code; the Energy Step Code and the new Zero Carbon Step Code.  While related, they are separate compliance paths that local governments may use to require a high level of energy efficiency and/or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new construction. 

Why is this important?  Currently, new residential construction must meet Energy Step 3 (Commercial buildings are at Energy Step 2) and new house construction (and similar residential) shall be designed and constructed to meet the Zero Carbon levels. It is increasingly important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings in order to meet the targets outlined in the District's Climate Leadership Plan.  

Any future changes planned?  As of July 2024, building permits submitted for new 4 - 6 storey residential buildings will need to comply with the Zero Carbon Step Code as well - EL4 or the highest level called Zero Carbon Performance. By November 2024, these regulations will also apply to new commercial buildings.

What does this mean?  For the last few years, residential construction has required the involvement of an energy advisor to demonstrate compliance with the Energy Step Code.  This practice will continue, and now your advisor will also be providing details on total GHG emissions complying with Emissions Level 4, or Zero Carbon, in the Zero Carbon Step Code (similar to the City of Victoria and the District of Saanich). Typically, this will mean electrifying the building without using fossil fuels like natural gas.  An example would be using an electric heat pump for heating and cooling, and an electric domestic hot water system. 

More information is available from the Related Links or check with your energy advisor.


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Step Codes in Central Saanich