British Columbia (B.C.) is taking significant steps towards achieving its zero-carbon targets by implementing new energy-efficiency regulations in its building code. The changes, which came into effect this month, require most new buildings in the province to be 20% more energy-efficient. The introduction of the Zero Carbon Step Code provides local governments with tools to encourage or mandate lower emissions in new constructions, aligning with commitments outlined in the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. The roadmap aims to progressively reduce emissions from buildings until all new structures are zero carbon by 2030 and net-zero energy ready by 2032.
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy,
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, emphasized the importance of these energy-efficiency regulations in helping British Columbia meet its CleanBC 2030 goals and create healthier communities while addressing climate change. Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing, highlighted the collaboration between the government and the industry in meeting housing needs and climate goals through essential changes in the BC Building Code, which will make new buildings cleaner and more energy-efficient.
The updated building code builds upon the foundation of the BC Energy Step Code, introduced in 2017, which allows local governments to encourage or enforce energy-efficiency measures beyond the requirements of the BC Building Code. While the BC Energy Step Code focuses on enhancing energy efficiency in new construction, the Zero Carbon Step Code specifically targets emissions reduction in new buildings.
Stakeholder engagement played a crucial role in developing these code changes, with industry experts, local governments, and utility providers collaborating with the province. Templates and best practices are being coordinated to facilitate the implementation of these building code changes for local governments and the construction industry.
The Building and Safety Standards Branch, responsible for building codes and standards, invited Treaty Nations and Indigenous communities to provide feedback on the code changes in 2022 and continues to engage with other Nations and communities as the new regulations take effect. Treaty Nations and Indigenous communities that enforce the BC Building Code retain the discretion to enforce all or part of it based on their specific circumstances.