BC Energy Step Code and Carbon Pollution Standard

New! Council Adopts Carbon Pollution Standard - August 2022

At the August 8, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved a proposed approach to adoption of carbon pollution standards for new construction in Saanich.  The Council report and presentation can be viewed here.

The approved approach has been informed by detailed technical analysis and a comprehensive regional engagement process undertaken throughout 2022. Information and resources from the engagement process are available here. The approved approach includes:

  • No further acceleration of the BC Energy Step Code - as of December 2022, any higher energy efficiency requirements would now come into effect through BC Building Code revisions, expected to reach the highest steps by 2032.
  • Implementation of the new provincial carbon pollution standard - this new provincial standard is currently being finalized and is expected to come into effect as part of the 2022 BC Building Code Revision. The approved timeline and requirements for adoption of this standard are outlined in the Adoption Schedule below.

Carbon Pollution Standard Adoption Schedule: 

Description Date
Part 9 Buildings Part 3 Buildings
Low Carbon Standard Requirement July 1, 2023 July 1, 2024
Zero Carbon Standard Requirement January 1, 2025 July 1, 2025

For a building to meet a zero carbon ready standard, most will use electricity for all building systems. The BC Hydro grid is currently 97% renewable with a commitment to provide 100% renewable energy by 2030.  There is currently no ability for municipalities to recognize Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) supplied by the Fortis BC grid for compliance with the carbon pollution standards.

The BC carbon pollution standard will use a GHG intensity (GHGi) and total GHG emission maximums to achieve the stated intent of each threshold. We have published the expected values in the Technical Review document available as Attachment 2 of the Council report linked to above (see Tables 10 through 13). These will be finalized by the province as part of the new BC carbon pollution standard expected to be released as part of the 2022 BC Building Code Revision in December 2022.  Saanich bylaw amendments will be prepared for approval following its release.

As with Step Code, implementation of the new provincial carbon pollution standard requirements will occur as part of the Building Permit application process.  It will be important for applicants and design teams to be aware of these requirements early in the development and design process.

Current BC Energy Step Code Requirements

Building permits for new construction applied for on or after January 1, 2020 will need to demonstrate compliance with the BC Energy Step Code:

  • Step 3 for Part 9 homes (excluding small single family dwellings less than 1,200 ft2);
  • Step 2 for Part 9 small single family dwellings less than 1,200 ft2;
  • Step 3 for Part 3 mid-rise/wood-frame buildings (6 storeys and under);
  • Step 2 for Part 3 concrete high-rise residential buildings (over 6-storeys) and commercial buildings.

As of June 1, 2019, all new Part 9 building applications will also be required to provide and affix within the home, an EnerGuide Rating System energy label, a Passive House Certificate or a standard comparable energy label acceptable to the District of Saanich.

See our Step Code Fact Sheet [PDF - 963 KB] for more information.


  • The CleanBC Better Homes New Construction Program provides rebates up to $15,000 for the construction of new, high-performance, electric homes. Single family homes, laneway homes/garden suites, duplexes and row or townhomes are eligible. Confirm eligibility by filling out the pre-registration form
  • As of September 1, 2022, the $500 Step Code Implementation Rebate for Part 9 Construction will no longer be available. 

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code is an optional compliance path in the BC Building Code that establishes progressive performance steps in energy efficiency for new buildings from the current BC Building Code level to net zero energy ready buildings by 2032.

Buildings represent approximately 30% of Saanich's community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The Step Code presents an opportunity for the District of Saanich to make progress on our climate change commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The Step Code focuses on improvements to the energy efficiency of new buildings, complementing the existing residential retrofit programs that Saanich already supports.

A Net Zero Energy Ready Building: is a building built to high energy-efficiency standards such that it could (with additional measures) generate enough onsite energy to meet its own energy needs.

Saanich implemented Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code on June 1, 2019. As of January 1, 2020, building permits for new buildings (Part 9 and Part 3 buildings) will need to demonstrate compliance with Steps 2 or 3 of the Step Code, depending on building type (see above).

Building Type Definitions

Part 9 - Houses and small buildings that are three storeys or less and have a building area no more than 600 square metres. Most commonly single family homes, duplexes and some townhomes.
Part 3 - Buildings that have a building area 600 square metres or greater or are greater than three storeys. Typically apartment buildings, condos, commercial, institutional or industrial uses.

What is the difference between a performance-based versus a prescriptive-based approach?

The Step Code provides a consistent provincial standard for energy efficiency to replace the wide range of existing policies and programs unique to each local government. It also supports consumer choice by taking a new performance-based approach rather than a prescriptive approach. This allows builders flexibility to develop using all available technologies as the Step Code does not specify how to construct a building, only identifies an energy efficiency target that must be met.

To comply with the BC Energy Step Code, builders will use energy software modelling and on-site testing to demonstrate that both their design and the constructed building meet the requirements of the standard. This approach is similar to that taken by many green-building certification programs, including Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Star for New Homes and R-2000 programs, and Passive House certification, as well as the Canadian Home Building Association’s Net Zero Home and Net Zero Ready Home programs.

More Information and Resources

For information and resources on the BC Energy Step Code, including the implementation guide, costing study, technical webinars, incentives and FAQs, visit energystepcode.ca

View our BC Energy Step Code Information for Applicants Sheet [PDF - 963 KB] here.