BC Energy Step Code and Zero Carbon Step Code

New Zero Carbon Step Code Requirements

On May 1, 2023, Revision 5 of the BC Building Code 2018 came into effect and introduced the new BC Zero Carbon Step Code. Saanich Council has approved an approach for implementing the Zero Carbon Step code for new construction in Saanich. The Saanich Step Code Information Bulletin [PDF - 956 KB] provides detailed direction regarding implementation and compliance. 

What is required now?

BC Energy Step Code Requirements

As of May 1, 2023, all new residential and commercial buildings in Saanich are required to demonstrate compliance with the following BC Energy Step Code steps:

  • Step 3 for Part 9 buildings*
  • Step 3 for Part 3 mid-rise/wood-frame residential buildings (6 storeys and under)
  • Step 2 for Part 3 high-rise/concrete residential buildings (over 6-storeys) and commercial buildings

Any higher energy efficiency requirements would now come into effect through BC Building Code revisions, expected to reach the highest steps by 2030.

BC Zero Carbon Step Code Requirements & Adoption Schedule

As of November 1, 2023, all new Part 9 buildings* must demonstrate compliance with Emissions Level 4 of the BC Zero Carbon Step Code.

New requirements will be added to Part 3 building permit applications starting July 1, 2024, as outlined in the Table below. Further details can be found in the Saanich Building Bylaw (No. ).

Zero Carbon Performance Level   Implementation Date 
Part 9 Buildings* Part 3 MURBs** 6 storeys or fewer Remaining Part 3 Buildings***

Measure Only

(GHG Emission Level 1)
May 1, 2023 May 1, 2023 May 1, 2023

Zero Carbon Performance Level

(GHG Emission Level 4)
Nov 1, 2023 July 1, 2024 Nov 1, 2024

*Part 9 buildings are 3-storeys or less, have a building area less than 600m2 and have major occupancies classified as Group C (residential), D (office / service), E (retail), or F-2, F-3 (medium- and low-hazard industrial) in the BC Building Code. They generally include single family dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and garden suites and can include some smaller Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURB).

** Multi-Unit Residential Building (MURB)

***Part 3 buildings are buildings classified as Group A, B or F-1; or exceeding 600 m2 in building area or exceeding three storeys in building height and have major occupancies: Group C (residential), Group D (office/service), Group E (retail), or Group F-2, F-3 (medium- and high-hazard industrial) in the BC Building Code.

For a building to meet the Zero Carbon Performance Level (GHG Emission Level 4), most will use electricity for all building systems (dependent upon design). The BC Hydro grid is currently 97% renewable with a commitment to provide 100% renewable energy by 2030. Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is not recognized for compliance with the Zero Carbon Step Code requirements by the District of Saanich. 

All new Part 9 building applications will also be required to provide an electronic copy of the EnerGuide Rating System energy label, Passive House Certificate or an approved standard comparable energy label to the District of Saanich. A copy of the energy label must also be affixed to the building (e.g. on the electrical panel) prior to occupancy.

As with the BC Energy Step Code, implementation of the new Zero Carbon Step Code 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.

The approved approach has been informed by detailed technical analysis and a comprehensive regional engagement process undertaken throughout 2022. The Council report and presentation can be viewed here (see item G.5. on the agenda).

Compliance Checklist Webinars & Training

On May 1, 2023, Revision 5 of the BC Building Code 2018 came into effect. Revised Step Code Compliance Checklists for Part 9 and Part 3 buildings have since been released to reflect the changes, which include updates to the Energy Step Code and the introduction of the Zero Carbon Step Code. Free webinars held in October provided an overview of how to use/review the revised checklists, including typical case studies and more complex examples for both Part 9 and Part 3 developments.

Video recordings of the webinar and quick start guide for Part 9 Compliance Reports is available on the Step Code webpage here. A video recording for the Part 3 Energy Design Report is available on the Step Code webpage here. 

New training videos (as of December, 2023) for Part 3 and Part 9 Step Code Compliance Checklists are available here

Available Incentives


More Information and Resources


Do I need to perform a mid-construction blower door test?

Mid-construction blower door tests are very helpful for reaching Step Code targets and are recommended by Saanich. However, while they are an important part in the Step Code process it is not part of the permit process.