On Monday Vernon city council agreed to adopt the BC Energy Step Code - a voluntary provincial commitment to move towards more energy efficient requirements in the building code. (Photo: City of Vernon)

Okanagan takes step towards cutting carbon footprint of its buildings

City council decided on Monday to adopt the BC Energy Step Code to improve its building efficiency

The City of Vernon is looking to step up its efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its houses, apartments and other buildings.

At a Monday meeting council updated its timeline for implementing the BC Energy Step Code – a voluntary provincial commitment to gradually move towards more energy efficient requirements in the building code, with the goal of reaching net-zero efficiency by 2032.

The city will begin engaging with building industry this fall, and by spring 2020 the Step Code will be in effect in Vernon for all single family, two, three and four plex buildings, rowhouses and low rise apartments.

The Step Code was first enacted in April 2017 and gives municipal governments the option to implement efficient building standards that go beyond the basic requirements in the B.C. Building Code. The standards increase incrementally through a series of measurable, performance-based requirements for construction that builders can choose to how to comply with.

Read More: Canada’s emissions target gets further away as 2017 report shows increase

“This is an opportunity for the city to show leadership in requiring improved energy performance in new buildings.” says Mayor Victor Cumming.

“Council is serious about doing what we can to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas footprint and this is one tool we have to advance this goal.”

City administration will work to amend building bylaws and plans to bring these changes before council in late fall 2019.

Once Step Code is in effect, builders will have to use energy modelling software and on-site testing to prove that their design and their constructed building meet the requirements.

Vernon isn’t the first Okanagan city to adopt the requirements: Penticton and Lake Country have already implemented Step Code requirements for single family residential buildings. Kelowna has also circled Dec. 1 2019 as its implementation date.

More information on the Step Code can be found at the BC Energy Step Code website.

Read More: B.C. repaying fees after national building code access made free

Read More: B.C. offers businesses and homeowners more money to save energy, cut emissions


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