BC Energy Step Code for New Buildings
Review how the BC Energy Step Code will change the way buildings are built in Surrey.
The City of Surrey has adopted the BC Energy Step Code. It came into effect April 1, 2019. See below for basic information and links to key resources.
What is the BC Energy Step Code?
The BC Energy Step Code ("Step Code") is the Province’s building energy code, involving a series of “Steps” representing improving energy performance levels. It measures the performance of different parts of the building, such as its airtightness level, envelope thermal performance, and mechanical equipment efficiency.
The Step Code will improve home comfort and help to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings in Surrey.
Step Code in Surrey
The Step Code applies to building permit applications submitted after April 1, 2019, for the building types outlined below.
For specific information on changes to the permitting, review and inspections processes, review Building Division bulletins on the Residential Building Permits page (for single- and two-family Part 9 buildings) and the Commercial Building Permits page (for all other buildings).
To stay up to date with these and other Step Code building changes in Surrey, subscribe to Step Code alerts using the form below.
Current Bylaw Requirements
As of April 1, 2019
- Part 9 residential buildings: Step 1
- Part 3 residential buildings (Group C): Step 3, OR Step 2 if connected to Surrey City Energy or satisfies low carbon energy requirements.
- Part 3 commercial buildings (Group D & E): Step 2
As of January 1, 2021
- Part 9 residential buildings: Step 3
- Other building types as per above
Estimated Timetable for Future Adoption
- Part 9 residential buildings: Step 4
- Part 3 residential buildings (Group C): Step 4, OR Step 3 if connected to Surrey City Energy or satisfies low carbon energy requirements.
- Part 3 commercial buildings (Group D & E): Step 3
- Part 9 residential buildings: Step 5
Definitions and Examples
(Refer to the BC Building Code for legal language)
- Part 9 means buildings 3 storeys and under AND a building footprint less than 600m2, such as single family homes, duplexes, townhomes, and small apartments.
- Part 3 means buildings over 3 storeys OR a building footprint more than 600m2, such as larger apartment and office buildings
- Group C means residential occupancies, such as apartments and hotels
- Group D means business and personal services occupancies, such as offices
- Group E means mercantile occupancies, such as retail store
When Step Code is implemented in Surrey, builders will be required to hire a certified energy advisor to meet Step 1 minimum requirements. Learn more about Energy Advisors or find one to work with on the BC Energy Step Code website.
Airtightness testing at building completion is a core part of Step Code performance requirements. The Province requires all Step Code buildings to conduct a final airtightness test to receive an occupancy permit. At Step 1, airtightness must be good enough for overall building energy performance to equal the BC Building Code reference building. At Step 2 and above, buildings must meet specific airtightness levels to be code compliant.
See the Key Resources below for slides from the April 25, 2019 builder breakfast to learn more about how to succeed with airtightness. The Building Safety and Standards Branch (BSSB) has also released a series of Step Code Bulletins focused on airtightness and complying with Step 1 (B19-01, B19-02, and B19-03).
Mid-Construction Airtightness Testing
Airtightness is the most cost-effective way to improve building energy performance, and an airtight building is easiest and least costly to achieve prior to drywall installation. As such, the City of Surrey requires all Part 9 buildings to conduct a mid-construction blower door test before a building can proceed to insulation inspection.
See the City’s Building Division bulletins (linked to below, under Resources) for more details. As this is intended to be a capacity building requirement, the City is currently determining how the requirement may be waived for applicants that can demonstrate success constructing multiple airtight buildings, and the City will update the bulletins when this is determined.
Your certified energy advisor will help with these tests and suggest ways you can improve your building’s energy performance. The City encourages building teams to involve as many staff and trades as possible during the first few mid-construction blower door tests.
Incentives for Builders
The City of Surrey has a limited pool of funds to offer $400 mid-construction blower door test rebates to Part 9 builders. Visit the City’s Incentives page to learn more information and find out when and how to apply.
The most comprehensive sources for building energy incentives are Better Homes BC and Better Buildings BC. For additional financial and other incentives available to builders and others, visit the City’s Incentives page or the BC Energy Step Code’s Incentive Programs site.
BC Energy Step Code training opportunities are listed on the BC Step Code Events Calendar.
Surrey has been engaging with industry stakeholders and other local governments since November 2017, researching the costs, benefits and other implications of Step Code in Surrey. The BC Energy Step Code will help us achieve our long-term target of an 80% reduction in GHG emissions per capita by 2050 from 2007 levels.
For details, see the following:
- Corporate Report on Step Code Adoption presented to Council in July 2018
- Corporate Report on Step Code Building Bylaw Amendment Regulatory Updates presented to Council in March 2019
Sign up for the BC Step Code Newsletter for Stakeholders for updates.
Guides & Resources
- BC Energy Step Code Website
- BC Energy Step Code Resources for Industry
- BC Energy Step Code Builder Guide
- BC Energy Step Code Design Guide
- Designing for Energy Efficient Building: A Reference for Planners and Designers
- BC Energy Step Code Resources for Homeowners
- BC Energy Code Incentives
- Surrey Building Division Bulletin for Part 9 Single- and Two-family Dwellings
- Surrey Building Division Bulletins for Part 9 Multi-family
- Surrey Building Division Bulletins for Part 3 Buildings
- Low Carbon Energy Systems for Part 3 Buildings
- Builder Breakfast Slides: April 2, 2019 – Step Code in Surrey and Working with an Energy Advisor
- Builder Breakfast Slides: April 25, 2019 – Succeeding with Airtightness in Part 9 Residential Buildings
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