Founded in April 2017, the BC Energy Step Code was implemented to increase energy efficiency requirements in the BC Building Code. This initiative is optional but aspires to make buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032.
This Energy Step Code is completely voluntary and currently is only on the books for the province of British Columbia. Though this is voluntary, local governments across BC can choose to require or incentivize certain steps of the Step Code through legislation.
When the BC Building Code adopted energy efficiency requirements in 2008, many builders and contractors used a prescriptive approach to meet the requirements. For example, builders would identify key areas such as water heaters, furnaces, insulation etc. that could be made more energy efficient. They addressed the individual elements and systems but forgot to look at the building as a whole. The ensuing result was a building that met individual energy efficiency standards but wasn’t cohesive.
The BC Energy Step Code simply tells the contractor what the energy efficiency target is and it is then up to them to decide what means are necessary to achieve it. Talius’ aluminum rollshutters and Habitat Screens are a popular choice for many builders to achieve the energy efficiency standards set out by the BC Energy Step Code.
To comply with the Step Code, builders must use energy software modeling and on-site testing to evince that not only their design but also the completed building meet all of the requirements.
This represents a win-win situation for both local governing bodies and builders. Local governments are assured that new construction will be energy efficient and contractors aren’t bound to hard and fast measures to ensure energy efficiency standards are met.
Benefits of the BC Energy Step Code
The benefits of employing the BC Energy Step Code are numerous and don’t only extend to energy efficiency and environmental conservation. Benefits to occupants or those using the building range from noise reduction due to airtight spaces to improved comfort and health. Buildings that adhere to the BC Energy Step Code are usually more durable as well.
The flexibility provided by the code also encourages creativity, innovation, and the ability to incorporate cutting-edge technology.
The only trade-off is the cost. Although by using the BC Energy Step Code, builders are realizing energy efficient constructions; there are costs to be mitigated such as training for local government staff and builders on the code, higher construction costs, for some steps in the code there are considerations for the amount and the placement of windows and balconies. To this end, due to budgetary restrictions, buildings may have fewer windows and balconies to facilitate meeting the higher and more stringent steps of the BC Energy Step Code.
The BC Energy Step Code is a great initiative towards getting buildings in British Columbia more energy efficient, which will ultimately conserve the environment and reduce everyone’s collective carbon footprint.