AN ARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO THE BC ENERGY STEP CODE AND EEA
September 02, 2019
Building more sustainable homes isn’t a trend. The “green” construction industry is certainly growing, but the demand for more energy-efficient homes isn’t going away.
The building codes and guidelines in British Columbia reflect this demand. With updated regulations aimed at reducing energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions, there is a clear direction in British Columbia to help conserve resources and reduce energy costs for residents.
Complying with these standards can pose a challenge to architects and designers, but by understanding these requirements, we can start to look for more energy-efficient solutions.
Let’s start by looking at what current regulations look like and what they mean for homeowners, architects and builders in British Columbia.
British Columbia’s Energy Efficiency Standards
Architects and builders in British Columbia are required to comply with national and local regulations, so any new residential project will need to pass an inspection based on those standards.
BC Building Code
The BC Building Code is based on Canada’s national model for building codes and establishes standards for new construction, building alterations, repairs and demolitions. The BC building code also sets minimum standards for building safety, occupant health, fire safety and energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Act
The Energy Efficiency Act (EEA) sets the energy standards for any devices or systems that use or affect energy use in the home. From the heating and cooling systems to building components like windows and doors, the EEA was created to enforce more sustainable solutions for residential projects.
Energy Step Code
The emphasis on more energy-efficient homes and communities doesn’t stop with British Columbia’s EEA standards, however. The province also recently implemented the Energy Step Code, which supports the BC government’s efforts to make buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032. It’s an “optional compliance path” in the BC Building Code, which allows for local entities to use the new standards to incentivize higher energy efficiency levels in new construction.
Complying with the Energy Step Code means that the project exceeds the requirements of the existing BC Building Code. These higher standards focus on the home as a whole unit, and “builders must use energy software modelling and on-site testing to demonstrate that both their design and the constructed building meet the requirements of the standard.”
The enhanced standards require a more energy-efficient home design, but architects and builders are free to use any materials or construction methods to meet these updated requirements.
That gives professionals a few ways to accomplish a more energy-efficient design.
Tips Toward a More Energy-Efficient Home Design
To design a new home to be more energy efficient, there are a few key areas to focus on.
Insulating a residence sufficiently will save a significant amount of energy. Using the standards set by BC Building codes means the home is better equipped to maintain even temperatures throughout.
Compliant levels of insulation will also help bring down utility costs and can even reduce outside noise. A key place to focus on insulation is in the home’s attic, where 25% of the home’s energy is lost.
A significant amount (up to 25%) of a home’s energy is also lost because of thermal transfer through the windows and doors in a home. There are a few innovative solutions to help homeowners prevent this kind of energy loss:
Design with stylish accordion glass doors. Accordion glass doors are a sleek, modern solution to maximize energy efficiency and enhance your home’s style. MINIMAL Glass + Door’s accordion doors feature double-paneled designs, low emissivity glass, thermally broken aluminum frames and compression seals to minimize heat loss.
Consider triple-glazing your windows for a more energy-efficient glass solution. Less heat will escape, the home will meet higher standards for code compliance and homeowners can potentially save more money.
Expansive glass walls, like the MWall, are a great way to incorporate energy-saving daylighting solutions into your design, while sealing the indoor environment effectively. A glass wall also allows for some impressive views and visual access to the outdoors, both of which add to a home’s curb appeal.
Designing a More Energy-Efficient Future in British Columbia
Being energy-conscious doesn’t mean your home design will suffer. There are multiple solutions for incorporating energy-efficiency into your home, from premium quality glass to sufficient insulation. And there are more advancements in the construction industry every day, from renewable energy sources to smart home technology, that will help to ensure more sustainable home construction.
The code requirements set for British Columbia will also ensure that your home design is energy-efficient, helping to guarantee a more sustainable community and longer-lasting home.
Want more code-compliant and energy-efficient glass solutions for your new home? Using glass solutions from MINIMAL Glass + Door can help you build the home of your client’s dreams. You can check out some of our favorite designs here.