BC Step Code


December 15, 2017, marks the end of local building requirements in bylaws and the introduction of the B.C. Step Code.

I recently attended a Building Smart presentation on the introduction of the BC Energy Step Code for Zone 5 in Nanaimo BC on Vancouver Island with the objective of finding out more about the changes coming to the building industry over the next few years. It was good to hear more details on how the BC Energy Step Code will roll out over the next while as the general knowledge in the industry was painting a lot of different pictures and there were a lot of unknowns.

From what I understand the regional districts/municipalities will first have to decide to adopt the Step Code and then they will also have to lay out how they will phase in the new requirements as each area is responsible for how and when to Implement It. This means that you will need to check with the regional district/municipality in your building area to understand the exact details of how they intend to roll this out and when the different requirements will be implemented.

As this Building Smart Seminar was in Nanaimo BC, there was a representative from the Regional District of Nanaimo attending and she noted that at this point the RDN is looking at most likely requiring an Energy Advisor and Rating by 2019 as the first step.

You can go to www.energystepcode.ca and check under “Notification Form” for the most up to date information on which regional districts/municipalities are consulting to adopt the Step Code.

Direct Link to the Notification Form:
Local Government Notification Form

We were informed at the seminar that there will be Illustrated Guides published in three steps with the first one out in the next few weeks. These guides will assist builders to design their homes to meet the upcoming Step 1 through Step 5 requirements as laid out by the BC Step Code. The first two guides coming out in early 2018 will be “Design Guide to the BC Energy Step Code” & “Builder Guide to the BC Energy Step Code” so you can check back occasionally to their website for these additional resources. Please see the web links noted at the bottom of this article.

Basically, we are moving from prescriptive requirements to performance-based requirements. This will ensure the homes being built currently are meeting the results originally sought after with the current prescriptive requirements method.

Essentially what was being realized was that even with the latest prescriptive requirements and details followed, when homes were randomly tested in the performance-based format they were not reaching the goals intended, hence the change to performance-based requirements.

With the key components of the BC Step Code focusing on the Building Envelope, Equipment/Systems, and Air Tightness while using the performance-based requirements, the homes currently being built will be of a consistently higher performance than by the prescriptive method with virtually no changes needed. They do have building projects in the resource area of their website to show examples of homes etc. being built and meeting the current performance goals and have noted any changes in the budget to comply with the code.

The first few steps (1 to 3) are not really big changes but are essentially requiring Energy Modeling to be performed by an Energy Advisor. Steps 2 & 3 slowly bring the air tightness of the home up to achieve a lower air leakage level when they perform a blower door test in the home. The new Blower Door target requirements noted start in Step 2 @ 3.0 then Step 3 @ 2.5 then Step 4 @ 1.5 then Step 5 @ 1.0.

There definitely are a number of builders that are already building to the Step 2 level but maybe just aren’t doing the Energy Advisor/Modeling and blower door testing to validate the end performance level of their new home.

As the New BC ENERGY STEP CODE covers a lot of material, I would really suggest you visit the web link noted below to read the, “BC Energy Step Code – A Best Practiced Guide for Local Governments,” as it will give you a good overview with information indicating the new air tightness performance requirements in each of the five steps leading up to Net Zero Ready Homes by 2032, as well as much more.


If you are looking for further information with regards to the BC ENERGY STEP CODE please visit the website links noted below:

WANT MORE INFO – www.bchousing.org/research-centre or www.energystepcode.ca

TECHNICAL QUESTIONs – technicalresearch@bchousing.org