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Building Inspection / BC Energy Step Code

The Regional District of Fraser Fort George has adopted the BC Energy Step Code, which comes into effect April 1, 2022. The Step Code is a provincial regulation that local governments may use to require a level of energy efficiency in new construction that goes above and beyond the requirements of the soon-to-be updated BC Building Code. 

RDFFG BC Energy Step Code implementation timeline is Step 1 for all new residential buildings starting April 1, 2022.

A building constructed to Step 1 is intended to have as good or better energy performance as a reference building constructed to the BCBC’s minimum prescriptive requirements for energy efficiency. As such, Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code is intended to help builders familiar with traditional prescriptive codes make a smooth transition to building to performance codes that are focused on outcomes.

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The Performance Pathway of the BC Energy Step Code changes the building process in three main ways. New builds will now have to:

  1. Conduct energy modeling at the design phase
  2. Test air tightness at completion
  3. Quantify mechanical efficiency and heating needs

To comply with the BC Energy Step Code, builders complete an energy model at the design phase and conduct on-site testing to demonstrate that both their design and the constructed building meet the requirements of the standard. They may use any materials or construction methods to do so. A third party energy advisor or energy modeler conducts the required energy model and final testing.

As shown below, the regulation sets performance targets for new construction and groups them into “steps” that apply across various building types and regions of the province. The Lower Steps are relatively straightforward to meet; the Upper Steps are more ambitious.

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Steps to Achieve a Building Permit and Occupancy in Compliance with Step Code

  1. Builder works with an energy advisor from the design phase to create an model (energy efficiency target) for the new build. Find a local Energy Advisor.
  2. Energy Advisor provides a standardized “pre-built” report that is to be submitted at time of building permit application. See Compliance tools. Note: the building permit will not be issued without a satisfactory energy model from a qualified 3rd party.
  3. Builder and energy advisor stay in communication throughout the build. Energy model is updated with any changes to the design (e.g. window specification updates, mechanical system exchange, insulation level change, etc).
  4. Optional but advised: mid-construction blower door test conducted by energy advisor to find any air leaks and allow repair BEFORE seal-up stage. See a mid-construction blower door test case-study and on-site training demo here.
  5. Final inspection and air-tightness test conducted by energy advisor.  Energy advisor submits a standardized “as-built” report to the AHJ following construction and prior to final inspection or occupancy, to verify airtightness and energy performance. See Compliance tools.
  6. Occupancy permit can be issued if minimum required energy efficiency is achieved, as verified by the energy advisor in the “as-built” report.

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BC Energy Step Code Additional Resources

You can learn more about the BC Energy Step Code by reviewing the following resources and/or by contacting one of our Building Officials:

  • BC Energy Step Code is the main Provincial Step Code information site.
  • Building A Legacy North is an initiative of CHBA Northern BC in collaboration with Community Energy Association, supporting Step Code implementation, training and information sharing in northern BC. Find cold climate case studies, recorded webinars, an animated Step Code information video, upcoming events and more.
  • Better Homes BC houses an up to date list of qualified energy advisors who can help you with your project as well as information on available incentives for new builds and retrofits.