The BC Step Code: Building for Net Zero
What is a Net Zero home?
A Net Zero home produces as much energy as it consumes. It is up to 80% more energy efficient than a typical new home, and uses renewable energy systems, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heating systems, to produce the energy it needs.
Net Zero homes are the homes of the future. In 2032, the BC Building Code will change so that every new home in BC will be required to be built to a Net Zero energy-ready standard. This means that they will have the infrastructure in place to be able to access an onsite renewable energy system, with the goal of being fully Net Zero in the future.
Housing has been identified as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and changes to the Code are one of the ways the provincial government is working to meet its climate targets. The National Building Code is also in the process of being revised to meet new energy efficiency standards.
To help consumers and industry professionals prepare for the change, the provincial government has introduced the BC Step Code. We’ll explain more about the Step Code later, but first, a bit more about the benefits of Net Zero homes…
Net Zero: built better, feels better
Every part of a Net Zero home works together – as a system – to stabilize indoor temperatures, prevent drafts and cold spots, and provide fresh, filtered indoor air. Net Zero homes help you breathe easy, are comfortable to live in, easy to manage, and have lower operating costs.
Why should I build or renovate to Net Zero now?
Net Zero homes are the future of housing – a future that’s coming fast. There are many reasons to build or renovate to Net Zero now, but here are four of the most compelling:
1. If you build a conventional new home today, your building will be out-of-date almost as soon as it is completed. By 2032, in little over a decade, that same home will be substantially below the norm.
2. It is less expensive to build Net Zero features into your building envelope during a new build or major renovation, than to add them later.
3. With climate change posing an uncertain future, a home that requires less energy and can adapt to new sources will provide greater security and comfort for your family.
4. When you build a Net Zero home, you’re doing your part to protect against climate change and preserve natural resources for future generations.
A Net Zero home is:
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At Kemp, we’re ready to build to Net Zero now – we can build to any level of the new, BC Step Code!Contact Us
What is the BC Step Code?
In 2017, the provincial government introduced the BC Energy Step Code. It’s a tiered set of changes to the BC Building Code aimed at gradually increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings until – by 2032 – all new buildings in BC will be built to a Net Zero energy-ready standard. This means that they will have the infrastructure in place to be able to access an onsite renewable energy system, with the goal of being fully Net Zero in the future.
The Step Code’s tiered approach gives builders, designers, architects, and local governments time to train in new building technologies and practices, source materials, and form networks with other qualified housing professionals, such as energy advisors, before the Code changes in 2032.
How does the BC Step Code work?
The new Step Code is voluntary – BC municipalities are implementing the steps at a pace that works for them. As of 2018, for example, North Vancouver required all new single-family homes to be built to Step 3 requirements. Most other major municipalities are also developing policies, knowing that all builders in BC will be required to build to the highest stage – net-zero ready – by 2032.
The first stages of the Step Code are fairly easy to attain – in Step 2, a new, single-family home must be 10% more energy efficient than a home built to the basic BC Building Code. Step 3 requires the home to be 20% more efficient, while Step 4 jumps to a 40% increase in efficiency. Step 5 is the last step for single-family homes, and it’s Net Zero energy-ready.
An experienced builder can save you time and money
The new Step Code sets energy-efficiency goals, rather than prescribing a set of systems and materials that builders must use to achieve those goals. Solutions will require energy modeling software, and knowledge of new technologies and building techniques. Builders will be required to do on-site testing to demonstrate that both the design and construction of the home meet the new requirements. For some builders, it will be a steep learning curve.
For others – like Kemp – it will be a chance to apply the high-performance, energy-efficient solutions we’ve been using and testing for years. Our 2016 Georgie and Ovation finalist, for example, was a beautiful, 4,000 square foot, custom Platinum BuiltGreen® home.
We don’t just know what industry best practices are – we’ve been at the forefront of developing them. We know how to build to Net Zero standards in ways that are innovative and cost-effective, and our expertise can save you time and money. If you need to build to any step of the new code, would you rather build with someone who has been using the new materials and methods for years, or someone who is learning as they go?
Equally important, in our view, is that we care deeply about creating sustainable, high-performance homes. This new shift in the building industry reflects our long-time values as “green” builders – and grandparents – who want a better world for the next generation.