New BCBC Energy Requirements

In April 2013, British Columbia took the next step towards greater energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction with the adoption of the following new BC Building Code requirements:

The introduction of two new standards allows a choice of energy efficiency standards for Part 3 buildings (excludes houses and small buildings) that apply for permits on or after December 20, 2013.

  • 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB)the province supported the development of this new Canadian standard, which, in some respects, better addresses the climatic and construction practice conditions in B.C. Adopting the NECB harmonizes B.C. with the national code development system.
  • ASHRAE 90.1(2010) – this well-respected North American standard has an established infrastructure of education, training and support. The older 2004 edition has been in force within BC since 2008.

These two standards share much of the same information base. Both have traditional prescriptive compliance paths as well as performance compliance paths (whole building modeling/simulation).
However, there are differences in approach that can be summarized as follows:

  • NECB is energy-based whereas ASHRAE is energy-cost based.
  • ASHRAE has trade-off paths in the building envelope part only whereas NECB has trade-off paths in the building envelope part as well as in the lighting, HVAC and service hot water heating systems parts.

Some building types can be constructed more economically and/or achieve greater energy efficiency with ASHRAE; others, with the NECB which references more existing Canadian standards than ASHRAE. Code users have welcomed the flexibility offered by having two options for energy efficiency standards. However, the availability of two referenced standards comes with some special considerations.

The National Building Code published a new section containing energy efficiency requirements for housing and small buildings in December 2012. Effective December 19, 2014, B.C. has adopted the package which introduces building code performance standards for windows and heating equipment for the first time in the province. B.C. has chosen to harmonize the numbering with the NBC and move the current secondary suite provisions from 9.36 to 9.37. The 2014 effective date provides ample time to prepare in recognition that builders are currently adjusting to significant new lateral load requirements in the 2012 BC Building Code.

All those involved in the design and construction of new buildings in B.C. are encouraged to seek out the information and training necessary to support a smooth transition to greater energy efficiency within the built environment. In that regard, the Homeowner Protection Office is planning a BuildingSmart seminar tour of the province in the fall of 2013 to help the low rise residential construction sector prepare for the coming energy package. The Building Officials Association of BC and other stakeholder groups are also considering education and training options. Here are some other available resources:

Click here for additional information on the NBC 9.36 package, upon which the B.C. requirements are primarily based.

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