Breaking Down the BC Energy Step Code

May 7, 2021

British Columbia is making its mark on Canadian energy efficiency standards. The new building code program, the BC Energy Step Code, is an optional compliance path that all authorities over the BC Building Code can choose to require or incentivize builders to meet one or more steps as an alternative to the code’s prescriptive requirements. The program will reduce the amount of energy new buildings require and will offer some fantastic benefits to the occupants, the environment, and the economy.

How does it work? The BC Energy Step Code works in two ways. The first is known as the “prescriptive” path. Individual systems and elements of the building are held to their own specific energy requirements, rather meeting a set standard as a whole building. The result can be a building that doesn’t perform at optimum efficiency. The second option is known as the “performance” path. In this case the outcome is in the hands of the design and construction teams. To adhere to the program, builders and developers must use energy modelling software and on-site testing to demonstrate that both the construction and the design of the building envelope meet the standard requirements.

“Over time, as high-performance designs, materials, and systems become increasingly available and cost-effective, the building industry will integrate new techniques into all new buildings.”

What does the BC Energy Step Code provide?

  • Comfortable and Affordable Living Spaces. High performance homes are healthier, quieter, more economical, and durable.
  • Positions BC to be a leader in Climate Initiatives. Allows British Columbia to become “net zero energy ready” by 2032 reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Job opportunities and an economical boost. With a growing market for energy efficiency, the BC Energy Step Code creates new opportunities in education, technology, and other services.
  • Industry Benefits. The program allows construction businesses to incorporate new, innovative, and leading-edge technologies into their workflows as they become available.
  • Government Benefits. The BC Energy Step Code aligns well with other energy efficiency programs that builders are already familiar with. In addition, it helps local governments achieve their climate-action goals.

What does it mean for Builders? The Step Code provides builders and developers with a helpful level of consistency between local jurisdictions. Builders are still permitted flexibility to research and implement new and innovative building solutions (such as the ICE Panel) but are provided with a consistent path for the future of construction in British Columbia. This code gives builders a clear vision as to what to expect going forward, and how they can plan today for changes tomorrow.

What does it mean for Homeowners? Following the Step Code is a great investment for homeowners. It means that your home will be healthier, more comfortable, highly energy efficient, and will have an increased resale value.

Where do Greenstone ICE Panels fit in? Thanks to current ICE Panel technology, Greenstone builders and homeowners in BC have already been building to Step 5 standards. The cost to do so is similar when compared to the added materials and labour needed to achieve Step 5 with traditional wood-framed construction. The results are a much more comfortable environment, healthier air quality, and a highly energy efficient building envelope that provides reduced utility costs throughout its entire lifetime. Plus — it makes qualifying for the FortisBC rebates, even easier.

“Over time, as high-performance designs, materials, and systems become increasingly available and cost-effective, the building industry will integrate new techniques into all new buildings. By 2032, the BC Building Code will move toward the higher steps of the BC Energy Step Code as a minimum requirement. The National Building Code of Canada is similarly moving towards this outcome by 2030.” (

If you are planning to build in BC and are looking to create an energy efficient home that will meet the Step Code requirements and position you to be ahead of the BC building code as well as the future updates to the National Building Code of Canada, then building with Greenstone ICE Panels is your solution.

Interested in getting ahead of the game? Let’s chat! Give us a call at 204-726-1426 or send us an email at

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