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British Columbia Adopts New Building Code Requirements

In April 2013, British Columbia officially adopted Building Code requirements that introduce the concept of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions while harmonizing with the National Building Code (NBC). The requirements are as follows:

Large Residential, Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Buildings (Part 3)

BC will allow a choice of energy efficiency standards for Part 3 buildings (excludes houses and small buildings – Part 9) that apply for permits on or after December 20, 2013:

  • 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB)
  • ASHRAE 90.1 (2010)

While the two standards share much of the same information, there are differences in approach, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Both have traditional prescriptive compliance paths
  • Both have performance compliance paths (whole building modeling/simulation), however:
    –  NECB is energy-based
    –  ASHRAE is energy-cost based
  • Both have trade-off paths however:
    –  ASHRAE has the trade-off paths in the building envelop only
    –  NECB has the trade-off paths in the building envelop, lighting,
    HVAC and service hot water heating

Some building types can be constructed more economically and/or achieve greater energy efficiency with ASHRAE and others with the NECB.  NECB references more existing Canadian Standards then ASHRAE.  However, there are special considerations concerning ventilation rates and climate data for Part 3 buildings in the 2012 BC Building Code.

Housing and Small Buildings (Part 9)

The NBC published a new section containing energy efficiency requirements for housing and small buildings in December 2012.  Effective December 19, 2014, BC has adopted the package, which introduces Building Code performance standards for windows and heating equipment for the first time in BC.

BC has chosen to harmonize the numbering with the NBC and move the current secondary suite provisions from 9.36 to 9.37. Code users should also note that BC has adjusted the performance target for electric water heaters to keep the building code aligned with BC’s Energy Efficiency Act.