Construction 2

Energy Step Code Program

Energy Step Code Program for New Buildings

The City of Abbotsford has adopted the new BC Energy Step Code. This program will launch on September 1, 2019.

For Part 3 Buildings, Step Code compliance will start at the Development Permit application stage. Development Permits submitted on or after September 1, 2019 are expected to meet the Step Code, by the time they are ready for building permits.

There will be a voluntary soft launch for new houses and other small Part 9 residential buildings on September 1, 2019.

On April 1, 2020, the new Step Code requirements will be mandatory for both Part 9 and Part 3 Buildings.

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What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code is the Province’s new 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 BC Energy Step Code will improve home comfort and air quality while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings in Abbotsford.

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Changes to the Building Process

Phase 1 – September 1, 2019

Starting September 1, 2019, builders and designers should submit building permits that meet Step 1 of the Energy Step Code for Part 9 new residential buildings.

Submissions that meet Step 1 of the Energy Step Code for Part 9 will follow a faster building permit review stream. Depending on the volume of applications, applicants may see a shorter wait time of up to 2 weeks. View current Permit Wait Times.

For Part 3 commercial buildings, Step 1 requirements will start for Development Permits (DP) made on or after September 1, 2019.  This is to accommodate the energy model to meet Step 1, and for any impacts the modeling makes on the form and character of the building. Incentives will be offered for submissions meeting Step 3 or higher.

The City is relying on the Registered Professionals (RPs) who are submitting the Letters of Assurance (LOAs) for compliance to Step 1 for Part 3 buildings after September 1, 2019. Applications must have the Energy Model completed by a Registered Professional and the City will be requesting a copy of the Provincial Part 3 Compliance Form for Energy Step Code as part of the permit intake.

Phase 2 – April 1, 2020 (Houses and Small Part 9 Buildings)

The Step 1 requirement will become mandatory for all buildings on April 1, 2020. This time lag between September 1, 2019 to April 1, 2020 is intended to give a time window for builders and designers to test out working with the Step Code before it becomes mandatory. After April 1, 2020, the City will look into incentives for Step 3 and higher for all buildings, such as faster application review times.

Meeting Step 1 of the Energy Step Code for Houses

The Energy Step Code Step 1 involves the following:

  • Engaging a Certified Energy Advisor (CEA) early in the design so that the CEA can perform an energy assessment using one of the approved softwares, most likely “Hot2000”;
  • Submission of the Provincial Part 9 Compliance Form as part of the permit intake package; 
  • Performing a mid-construction blower door test for airtightness, unless air-tight drywall is used (mandatory requirement as of April 1, 2020);
  • Performing a post construction blower door test to get an air-exchange rate reading of the airtightness of the building; the air-exchange rate is fed back into the energy model program to confirm compliance and to obtain an Energuide rating;
  • Submit the Energuide rating to NRCan.

For specific information on changes to the permitting, review and inspections processes, please review the Building Division Bulletins on the Part 9 Buildings and Bulletins for Part 3 Buildings.

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Certified Energy Advisors

When the Step Code is implemented in Abbotsford, builders will be required to hire a Certified Energy Advisor to meet Step 1 minimum requirements. View the list of Certified Energy Advisors.

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Airtightness Testing

Airtightness testing at building completion is a key 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. View the Provincial Bulletins on airtightness. 

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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. The City of Abbotsford is strongly encouraging all Part 9 buildings to conduct a mid-construction blower door test before a building can proceed to insulation inspection after September 1, 2019. This will become a mandatory step for building permits submitted after April 1, 2020.

View the City’s Building Division Bulletins 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 will 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.

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Training Opportunities

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Key Resources

Compliance Reports

Guides & Resources


Visit the BC Energy Step Code website for more information on each of the Step Code requirements.

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