Campaign urges elected officials to “step it up” on energy efficiency

A campaign is urging elected officials across British Columbia to use the BC Energy Step Code to require developers to build more energy-efficient homes. The BC Energy Step Code is a provincial regulation enacted earlier this year that local governments can use to significantly improve the energy efficiency of new homes that will be built in their communities. It consists of a series of “steps,” each representing a higher level of energy efficiency. The higher the step that governments require of builders, the more efficient their homes will be.

The Three For All campaign (, launched on the occasion of the annual Union of BC Municipalities Conference, is urging all B.C. local governments to adopt the Step Code in bylaws at “Step 3.” New research shows the costs of doing so are minimal, while the benefits—to the community, and to homeowners and renters—are significant.

A study prepared for BC Housing and the Energy Step Code Council shows that builders that are required to meet the requirements of Step 3 will incur only very modest construction-cost premiums. In most situations, they can achieve it for less than a 2 per cent premium above what they would pay to build the same home to code, the study found. A separate recent study concluded that the building industry has the capacity and know-how to build energy-efficient homes at the Step 3 level.

In return, communities will see lower greenhouse-gas emissions through reduced natural-gas usage, and homeowners and renters will enjoy homes that are more comfortable, healthier, quieter, and more affordable to heat. Natural gas burned in furnaces is a leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions in British Columbia’s buildings.

Three For All is an initiative of Three For All BC—an informal alliance of companies and organizations calling for local-government leadership on energy-efficient buildings via judicious use of the BC Energy Step Code. Its members are The Canada Green Building Council, Integral Group, The Open Green Building Society, Passive House Canada, The Pembina Institute, and Recollective Consulting.

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