There are many reasons why a local government would want to use the Step Code to require better-than-code energy efficiency in new construction. Here are a few:
Greenhouse Gas Reductions
If your community’s new homes are likely to be heated with natural gas, the BC Energy Step Code will reduce the amount of that fuel they need to burn to stay comfortable. A well-insulated and well-sealed Step 3 home will not be wasting nearly as much energy as one built to the minimum code requirements. Result: Fewer carbon emissions.
Healthier, More Comfortable, and Better Quality Homes
Homes built to higher energy efficiency standards offer multiple benefits to those who live in them. Such homes are:
- More comfortable, because energy-efficient buildings do a better job managing temperature.
- Healthier, because they do a better job circulating fresh air.
- Quieter, because they are better insulated and sealed up.
- More affordable to heat, because they require less energy to stay warm.
- Better for the climate, because they reduce natural-gas usage.
Protecting Consumers Through Verification
Municipalities using the Step Code will require builders to confirm—via widely available computer modelling software—that their proposed buildings will reduce energy use. Once the walls are up, on-site testers verify the home is properly sealed to reduce heat loss. This two-stage verification protects consumers; it gives them confidence that their new home will be comfortable and efficient, and allows them to make more informed choices in the marketplace.
Green Economic Development
British Columbia already boasts some of the highest-performing buildings in North America, and if widely adopted, the Step Code will further strengthen that leadership position. As more communities require the regulation, our green-building design, construction, and manufacturing sectors will flourish. (See Also: Green Buildings Jobs Map, Pembina Institute; Green Building in Canada: Assessing the Market Impacts & Opportunities, Canada Green Building Council)
The Building Industry is On Board
British Columbia’s biggest homebuilding-industry associations not only support the BC Energy Step Code, they helped develop it. They were part of the process that helped design the regulation and develop the implementation guidance that allowed for local government regulators to adopt Step 3. They appreciate how it gives them a “shared language” on energy efficiency between local governments. Builders also like the certainty that the standard offers—it telegraphs a clear message on where the province is headed on climate and energy efficiency. Finally, many builders say it’s easier to comply with Step Code’s “performance based” approach to delivering on energy efficiency compared with the prescriptive approach of the BC Building Code.
Industry is Ready
The building industry already has the skills and the know-how to deliver Step 3 homes today. The upgrades required to meet these new steps are possible with conventional construction practices that have been proven all over the province. We don’t need any new technology or complicated techniques, the B.C. building industry is ready to deliver!