Climate & Energy 

New Homes - Energy Step Code & Zero Carbon Step Code

BC Energy Step Code Requirements
From May 1, 2023, BC has mandated an increase in the base energy efficiency requirement for new buildings by 20 per cent. This is equivalent to:

  • Step 3 for Part 9 (Simple) buildings, and
  • Step 2 for Part 3 (Complex) buildings.

When you apply for a building permit from the RDKB building inspection services after May 1, 2023, you need to comply with this 20% better requirement.

What is the Energy Step Code?
Energy Step Code is a performance-based compliance path in the BC Building Code. It sets out energy and airtightness performance targets for new buildings. Designers or builders decide how to meet these required targets.

Builders work with a certified energy advisor or a registered professional. They use energy modelling software and on-site testing to demonstrate that both the building design and the construction meet Energy Step Code requirements.

The Energy Step Code provides an incremental approach to make new buildings more energy efficient each step and net zero energy ready by 2032. A net zero energy ready building is designed and built to achieve net zero energy performance by adding renewable energy technologies.

What is Zero Carbon Step Code?

Zero Carbon Step Code is a flexible, predictable plan in the BC Building Code to limit operational greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings, with the objective to reach zero emissions from all new buildings by 2030. It complements the BC Energy Step Code by reducing emissions while improving energy efficiency.

The Zero Carbon Step Code concentrates on the de-carbonization of space heating, hot water, and auxiliary equipment. De-carbonization relates to the fuel type or energy source, and can be achieved by providing lower carbon or renewable energy sources in place of higher carbon energy-fed systems.

Carbon Performance Steps

Similar to the BC Energy Step Code, the Zero Carbon Step Code is based on different, measurable Steps. In general terms, these Carbon Steps can be referred to as:

  • Moderate Carbon Performance (EL-2) – in most cases, will require the decarbonization of either space heating or domestic how water systems
  • Strong Carbon Performance (EL-3) - in most cases, will require the decarbonization of either space heating and domestic how water systems
  • Zero Carbon Performance (EL-4) - in most cases will require the full decarbonization of a building

It is anticipated that mandatory requirements will be put in place by the provincial government by 2024 for Part 9 and Part 3 buildings, with increased minimum standards in 2027 and 2030.

Local governments are permitted to voluntarily opt-in early to the Zero Carbon Step Code, or to pair any level of the Zero Carbon Step Code with either the base energy efficiency requirements of BC Energy Step Code effective at the time, or to exceed requirements.

Resources and References (Updated July 17, 2023)

RDKB Information Sheets:

The RDKB Build Energy Smart engagement site that provides the building industry with a central portal with information on education and training sessions, resources and guides as well as an online newsletter (if you register), Q&A and a discussion forum.

Energy Step Code Case Studies

Below is a series of case studies of Step 3 or higher homes in the RDKB and RDCK.

BC Building Code 2018 – Code Changes

This is a recording the BC Building Code 2018 – Code Changes webinar hosted by RDKB and RDCK.  It consists of a presentation by Building Safety Standards Branch, brief presentation on regional requirements and Q&A session