New Homes

The Regional Energy Efficiency Program helps local builders achieve higher energy efficiency in all new homes.

Register for the Regional Energy Efficiency Program - New Homes


The Regional District Central Kootenay (RDCK) is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has developed the Regional Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) to assist those building new homes to insist on a high quality energy efficient product.

The Kootenay Region encourages energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies in new residential building construction and retrofits. This supports regional goals of sustainability and energy reduction objectives as outlined in local Community Energy and Emissions Plans.

How to achieve a highly energy efficient new home:

  1. Attention to sustainability in planning and building your residence will create a healthy and more comfortable home with reduced long-term utility costs. 
  2. When planning your new home, stop by the counter at the Local Government office in your community. Ask for preliminary property information, building regulations and the Central Kootenay Sustainability Checklist. 
  3. Use the checklist to help plan, design and build with goals of sustainability and energy-efficiency. 
  4. Engage a Certified Energy Advisor early in your planning process. The advisor will model your building project to achieve energy efficiency. Early in the design phase it is easy to adjust components (i.e. move window placement and understand component implications in building design) to be more energy efficient.  Modeling helps immensely with this. The extra cost to work with a Certified Energy Advisor is well worth the life long energy savings achieved.  
  5. Insist on “building beyond the standard” with the BC Energy Step Code. Learn more about building your home with maximum home comfort, long-term durability and reduced operating utility costs.
  6. The Energy Advisor will complete the pre-construction BC Energy Compliance report
  7. Apply to your Local Government office for a building permit.
  8. The Energy Advisor will register you for any utility New Home Step Code Incentive program to help buy down the cost of the Energy Assessment process.
  9. Once building permit issued, undertake construction. Pay special attention to air sealing, walls, windows, doors and insulation to achieve energy model performance. 
  10. Schedule an (optional) mid-construction blower door test from the Energy Advisor. This allows opportunity for the builder to check the airtightness of the building at a point (pre-interior finishing) where corrections can easily be made. 
  11. The Energy Advisor will submit results for the mid-construction analysis to utilities if rebate available.
  12. Upon construction completion, schedule a post-construction blower door test with the Energy Advisor. 
  13. The Energy Advisor completes an as built BC Energy Compliance report.
  14. Through the Energy Advisor, receive an EnerGuide Label for your home. 
  15. With the assistance of the Energy Advisor, apply for rebates within the deadline (the deadlines differ from rebate to rebate, please ensure you know what the requirements are to qualify for the rebates
  16. Enjoy a comfortable and energy efficient home!

Home Owner Benefits to Building to a minimum of Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code:

  • Lower energy bills: lower energy consumption reduces operation costs
  • Comfort:  minimizes warm and cold spots
  • Quiet: increased insulation levels and better windows can reduce outside noise
  • Durable: focus on envelope first, minimum requirements beyond building code
  • Peace of mind: third part verified by trained energy advisor
  • For more information: https://energystepcode.ca/for-homeowners/

The 10 "must haves" when building a new home:

According to a Canadian Home Buyer Preference National Survey 2017, 40% of the “must haves” relate to energy efficiency. 

  • Walk-in closets
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • High-efficiency windows
  • Linen closets
  • Overall energy-efficient home
  • Kitchen islands
  • Open concept kitchens
  • Large windows
  • Two-car garage
  • Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) air exchange

Achieving Step 3 of the BC Energy Step Code in the RDCK

The current base BC Building Code will be amended so that all new homes must be built to be  Step 3, that is 20% more energy efficient than the current BC Building Code in 2022.

The goal of the Regoinal Energy Efficiency Program is to support builders in the Kootenays to build to Step Code prior to the 2022 requirement. Builders are encouraged to begin immediately to work with an Energy Advisor and thus voluntarily achieve Step 1. A timeline for achieving higher steps is under development. Achieving Step 1 will become mandatory in the RDCK in 2020. 

Proposed dates* for Kootenay builders to adopt Step Code in their building practice:

Year

RDCK

Voluntary Step 1

RDCK

Required Step 1

RDCK

Voluntary

Step 3

RDCK Required Step 3

Province

Required

Step 3

(Base Code Change)

2019

X

 

X

 

 

2020

 

  X

X

 

 

2020

 

X

X

 

 

2021

 

X

X

X

 

2022

 

X

 

X

X

*These dates are noted as a guideline for builders and have not yet been adopted by the RDCK Board. 

Learning How to Build to BC Energy Step Code

Builders in the West Kootenay are learning Building Science and “building beyond the standard” to the BC Energy Step Code at workshops held locally.

FAQs


How should I approach building a new home?
A new home is one of the biggest investments a person will make. Know what you are  getting by planning, designing and building a new home informed by energy modeling. Maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing operation costs is least expensive when done from the design stage. Verify your home’s performance at the end with air tightness testing.

The BC Energy Step Code provides an approach to “building beyond the standard” that requires energy modeling and end-of-construction testing.  Learn more on building your home with maximum home comfort, long-term durability and reduced operating utility costs.   

What is the BC Energy Step Code?
The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard that provides a consistent approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings. The BC Energy Step Code establishes the pathway to meeting the goal of all new homes achieving net zero ready by 2032 and indicates the direction for future changes to the BC Building Code.

BC Energy Step Code is based on performance pathway of Building Code compliance, meaning energy modeling and verification are key components of the building process.

Each step of the BC Energy Step code requires that builders model their home pre-construction, which means they work with a Certified Energy Advisor, who uses software to analyze construction plans and determine building energy efficiency. This modeling process provides opportunity to adjust construction plans to improve energy performance, before a shovel hits the ground.

During construction, builders pay attention to air sealing, walls, windows, doors and insulation to achieve energy model performance. A mid-construction blower door test,  done pre-drywall stage, provides an opportunity to seal up any leaks while still cost-effective to do so. The ultimate goal of following the BC Energy Step Code is to reward the future homeowner with building comfort and reduced utility bills.

What are the steps of the BC Energy Step Code?
Visit the BC Energy Step Code website for a complete description.

  • Step 1: Energy modeling and verification. Builders will work with an Energy Advisor to follow the performance pathway of the BC Building Code.
  • Step 2: Energy modeling and verification, performing 10% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code. (Builders in the Kootenay region typically achieve Step 2 through current construction practice.)
  • Step 3: Energy modeling and verification, performing 20% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code. (Builders in the Kootenay region report that Step 3 is achieved with better attention to detail in the air sealing phase and with the cooperation of sub-trades to minimize wall penetrations.)
  • Step 4: Energy modeling and verification, performing 40% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code.
  • Step 5: Energy modeling and verification and Net Zero Ready, meaning there are opportunities to incorporate renewables to satisfy the energy demand of the home. The home has been built to maximize energy efficiency.

How should I approach planning to build a new home?
Consider a holistic approach to your building design. Engage with a Certified Energy Advisor early on to understand the energy implications of very early decisions to your design, including orientation of the home, aspect and number of windows, and heating/ventilation options. Engage early on with the full team – homeowner, architect, general contractor and certified energy advisor to ensure the home is achieving the desired performance while meeting the needs of the homeowner. The more detailed the planning phase, the less likely for costly changes part way through.

Central Kootenay Sustainability Checklists are available to help plan, design and build with goals of sustainability and energy-efficiency. Download the residential checklist or the commercial checklist.

The RDCK encourages energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies in new residential and comercial building construction and retrofits. This supports regional goals of sustainability and energy reduction objectives as outlined in the local Strategic Community Energy and Emissions Plan.

Does my builder have to work with a Certified Energy Advisor?
Yes. The BC Energy Step Code requires Part 9 builders to work with a Certified Energy Advisor or energy modeller to review plans, model energy consumption, conduct air tightness testing and verify the plans and as-built home will meet the energy performance requirement of a given step of the BC Energy Step Code. Learn more.

Where do I find a Certified Energy Advisor?
Begin early in your building planning stage to work with a Certified  Energy Advisor to model the building plans before any construction takes place. A provincial list of Certified Energy Advisors is found here.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, we have worked with 3West Building Energy Consultants Inc., Total Home Solutions, and other advisors.

How much does it cost to work with an Energy Advisor?
Each project is priced individually and has its own parameters. Certified Energy Advisors typically charge for a package that includes: plan modeling; advice to homebuilders to improve energy efficiency in building practice; and post construction site visit blower door test to measure building’s airtightness. Highly recommended is to include a mid-construction blower door test. This allows opportunity for the builder to check the airtightness of the building at a point (pre-drywall) where any air leakage can be addressed most cost effectively. 

Are there incentives available to help cover the cost of the Energy Advisor?
Yes, at this time the utilities are providing some incentive support. The Certified Energy Advisor will help you to access any incentive available to you. 

How much extra does it cost to build to the BC Energy Step Code?
Working with a certified energy adviser to build a home that has a higher energy performance than current building practice does have incremental costs.  These are offset by the long-term lower operating cost of your home and higher home value attributed to high quality building construction materials and techniques.   The incremental increased cost to meet Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code is in the order of $1000 in the entire building process.     Case studies noting the incremental building cost to achieve Step 3 report them as 0% to 4% higher.  Builder experience is found here

Local builders report working to meet Step 3 found the extra costs in the hiring of a certified energy advisor, time to air seal properly, using high quality windows and installing heat pumps rather than electric base boards. 

When will it become mandatory to build to the BC Energy Step Code?
The current base BC Building Code will be amended so that all new homes must be built to be 20% more energy efficient and reach Step 3 in 2022.

The Regional Energy Efficiency Program’s goal is to support builders in the Kootenays to build to Step Code prior to the 2022 requirement in order to support the building industry in the transition to performance pathway.

Proposed dates* for RDCK builders to adopt Step Code in their building practice:

Year

RDCK

Voluntary Step 1

RDCK

Required Step 1

RDCK

Voluntary

Step 3

RDCK Required Step 3

Province

Required

Step 3

(Base Code Change)

2019

X

 

X

 

 

2020

 

 X

X

 

 

2020

 

X

X

 

 

2021

 

X

X

X

 

2022

 

X

 

X

X

*These dates are noted as a guideline for builders and have not yet been adopted by the RDCK Board. 

What are other jurisdictions doing with respect to Step Code adoption?
BC local governments have indicated they are consulting industry and referencing the BC Energy Step Code in policy, program, or bylaw. In the Kootenays, City of Kimberley is currently required Step 2 for all Part 9 buildings, while Elkford and Sparwood will be requiring Step 1 as of December 2019.  A complete list of communities across the province engaging with Step Code can be found here

The content on this page was last updated April 3 2019 at 1:07 PM