In April 2017, the Province of British Columbia adopted the BC Energy Step Code as regulation. The new standard is a tool designed to help both government and industry chart a course to a future in which all new construction across the province is “net-zero energy ready” by 2032.
In recent years, R2000 has gained profile as an energy efficient approach to home building. The formalized program, which has seen thousands of building professionals trained and many homes are constructed, resulted in a great deal of awareness across Canada.
R2000 (BC Energy Step Code 4): Although attains 40% more energy efficiency than a conventionally built home, but it still require a furnace or boiler, the same as any other conventionally built home or building would require.
Though the requirements for BC Energy Step Code 5 are similar to Passive House, they are not identical. Thermal energy demand is the same for both at ≤ 15 kWh/m2 annually or peak thermal load ≤ 10 W/m2 annually. Air changes per hour (ACH) in the Step Code 5 are 1.0. Where as Passive House is slightly more stringent at 0.6. While the BC Energy Step Code has a requirement only covering mechanical energy use intensity (MEUI) with a maximum 25 kWh/m2 annually, this does not account for auxiliary electricity and domestic hot water. Passive House, in comparison, measures overall primary energy renewable (PER)—the total energy use intensity (EUI) multiplied by a PER factor (i.e. the energy supplied from renewable sources divided by the final energy demand of the building). Passive House sets the PER limit at 60 kWh/m2 annually (Slide No. 6).
Multi-Unit Residential, the BC Energy Step Code only goes up to Step 4. In this instance, thermal energy demand is again set at ≤ 15 kWh/m2 annually—the same as Passive House. While the BC Energy Step Code sets a maximum total energy use intensity at 100 kWh/m2 annually, Passive House has a requirement for PER with, as previously noted, a limit of 60 kWh/m2 annually.
Commercial Buildings, the BC Energy Step Code only goes up to Step 3. Here the thermal energy maximum is increased to 20 kWh/m2 annually and the MEUI goes up to 120 kWh/m2 annually, which matches earlier versions of the Passive House Standard (Slide No. 8).
The BC Energy Step Code, though different from Passive House, has made a significant move to the methodology and criteria of the Passive House standard. By explicitly accepting Passive House as an “equivalent” to the highest levels of the regulation for each of the three building types referenced, it has provided building professionals the option of using one universal standard for energy compliance.
Conclusion: Passive House provides a single standard and methodology for meeting energy requirements in zoning and codes throughout the province. The standard comes with straightforward energy modelling tools, a consistent methodology, best construction practices, and thousands of precedent projects to assist designers and builders. As municipalities and the province increasingly strive to meet zero or near-zero emissions targets for buildings, one can expect to see increasing reference in regulations and codes to Passive House.
Passive House design tools and methods make the energy performance gains both cost-effective and predictable.
Passive House is the only way we should be allowed to build. It presents a wonderful opportunity to build better, create healthy environments and future-proof our buildings. Where energy is saved, and emissions are avoided. Passive House is the easiest, most defined way to achieve Net Zero Carbon and Net Zero Energy Buildings.
EFFICIENCY: The First Renewable Energy.