By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Proposed changes to B.C. building code up for reviewCanadian Contractor
June 2, 2023 – In B.C., a four-week public review has begun to review and comment on numerous proposed building code changes, including: accessibility and adaptable dwellings; cooling requirements; mass timber construction; radon safety; and ventilation in houses.
Those proposed changes arise out of the 2020 National Model Codes, including B.C.-specific variations that reflect the province’s geography, climate, local government needs and industry practices.
The update to the B.C. Building Code is required to ensure buildings and spaces across the province reflect the needs of everyone, said minister of Housing, Ravi Kahlon.
Three weeks ago the city passed new municipal legislation to require designers, general contractors and homeowner builders to work with an energy advisor early in the design stages of a project to ensure the building design meets up to a provincial Step Code four of energy efficiency requirements – completed using software modelling.
As of May 1, Part 9 residential homes must hit either Step Code 4 of the B.C. Energy Step Code or hit Step 3 if they also achieve the EL-3 (strong) level of the Zero Carbon Step Code.
To meet the requirement of any step of the B.C. Energy Step Code, a model of the proposed building design must be completed prior to construction, demonstrating the design meets or exceeds the minimum required metrics.
There is concern about the possible lack of energy advisors in the region, but it is not a meaningful impediment to the proposed changes.
The Province is working with a group of mobile EAs who are already providing service to many remote regions, said city director of Development Services and Climate Leadership, Sebastien Arcand.
In 2017, the Province of B.C. introduced the B.C. Energy Step Code as a policy mechanism aimed to address greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector and help the province meet its climate leadership targets.
The Step Code enabled authorities having jurisdictions (AHJs) to go beyond the requirements of the B.C. Building Code and implement a provincial standard that provides an incremental approach to increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings.
BC Zero Carbon Step Code, which seeks to address greenhouse gas emissions associated with operational energy systems, was developed in part due to a finding that the Energy Step Code was not resulting in the desired reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The code’s framework plots a path to zero carbon ready buildings by 2030 for all new buildings. The B.C. Energy Step Code relies on a performance-based approach to achieving energy-efficiency requirements for new construction.
In addition, the survey provides draft accessibility code language derived from previous engagements industry representatives and the public on how to increase accessibility in new buildings and homes.