Benefits and Trade-Offs
The BC Energy Step Code will reduce the amount of energy required by new buildings. It will also offer a range of side benefits to occupants, the environment, and the economy. However, such benefits come with a number of trade-offs.
This is particularly true when it comes to meeting the more rigorous performance requirements of the Upper Steps. Briefly, trade-offs of projects built to the Upper Steps include:
- Increased construction costs (for more on this, review our FAQ).
- Local government staff and builders will need to be trained on new practices.
- While it is possible to build beautiful homes and high-rise buildings to meet the Upper Steps, designers must pay special attention to the amount and location of window glazing and the design of balconies, to mitigate heat loss as much as possible. The added costs associated with implementing these changes may, in practice, result in fewer balconies or less glazing in some buildings.
- Cost and training impacts will be more pronounced outside British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island regions.
Of course, these trade-offs come with benefits. They include:
Buildings built to higher energy-efficiency standards provide multiple benefits to those who live, work, and learn within them. Occupants often prefer these buildings as they:
- Improve comfort, by better managing temperature
- Improve health, by better managing fresh air throughout the building
- Reduce noise, through better insulation and airtightness
- Require less energy, helping occupants lower their energy bills
- Are more durable
The BC Energy Step Code helps communities chart a course to a future in which all of British Columbia’s new buildings will be net-zero ready by 2032. Such high performance buildings will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping reach our climate targets.
The Province of British Columbia hopes that the BC Energy Step Code could make the province’s building sector more competitive, and potentially open up new economic development opportunities. Our province is already a green building design and construction leader, boasting some of highest-performing buildings in North America.
The BC Energy Step Code gives builders a welcome level of consistency on energy efficiency between local governments. The code provides flexibility to pursue innovative, creative, cost-effective solutions, and allows them to incorporate leading-edge technologies as they come available. The standard sets out a consistent path for future updates to the BC Building Code—giving builders a sense of what lies ahead on energy efficiency.
Local Government Benefits
For local governments, the BC Energy Step Code code offers a simple and efficient set of standards for building energy performance. It aligns nicely with many of the existing energy-performance programs that builders are already familiar with. It will also help local governments achieve their climate-action goals.