Lesson series

Building Better Future (Homes) with BC Energy Step Code

The Energy Step Code came into effect on December 15, 2017, under the Climate Leadership Plan (August 2016), the Province is implementing a number of policies to encourage the development of net-zero buildings, one of which is the development of energy-efficiency requirements for new buildings that go beyond the BC Building Code. The Energy Step Code provides municipalities with a consistent provincial standard for energy efficiency, replacing the wide range of existing policies and programs developed by local governments. For those requiring training to meet the new condition, this 40-hour course will cover the BC Energy Step Code and its applications in eight training modules to ensure builders are prepared to build to Step 3 of the BC Energy Step Code; The objectives of the course are to provide in a single volume, a compendium of the best of the current knowledge and practices in the BC energy step code. The course will go through the following topics in residential construction and provide insights to the BC residential builders and professionals: we will go through the following 8 modules to introduce the concept of the BC Energy Step Code to the BC residential builders so builders would be able to “consider” the implications of the potential Code requirements on design and construction.
Module 1 - BC Energy Step Code Overview and Requirements
Module 2 - Meeting the BC Energy Step Code by Design
Module 3 - Building Science for the BC Energy Step Code
Module 4 - Building Envelope Options for the BC Energy Step Code
Module 5 - Air Barriers for the BC Energy Step Code
Module 6 - Mechanical Systems for the BC Energy Step Code
Module 7- Building Envelope Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Module 8 - BC Energy Step Code Project Management

Module 1: BC Energy Step Code Overview and Requirements
We will discuss how to present evidence to team members and clients that modeled projected climate conditions indicate a need for houses with improved home energy efficiency, durability, and occupant comfort.
We will discuss how to compare at a high level the energy use, durability, occupant comfort characteristics, and potential broader climate impacts of “business-as-usual” houses with those of Step 3 or higher houses, including for a diverse range of Part 9 housing formats and users.
So ultimately, builders would be able to recognize the importance of building housing in BC that responds to climate change through energy efficiency, durability, and comfort, for a diverse range of occupants.
We will discuss how to explain to a layperson how the BCESC compliance pathway works, its origin, and the need for a code that regulates energy efficiency.
We will discuss how to explain to a diverse range of clients and team members how the BCESC compliance pathway can offer value both financially and in comfort to end-users, especially in the context of future climate conditions and its impact on at-risk populations.
We will discuss how to identify how a performance-based BCESC Step 3 compliant home’s design and construction process is different from a current prescriptive-based building, the benefits in increased flexibility, and how it can effectively accommodate a diverse range of Parts 9 house formats.
We will discuss how to list the owner/occupant benefits of a home built to BCESC Step 3 or higher from an energy usage and building operation perspective.
So ultimately, builders would be able to formulate an appropriate explanation for team members and clients from diverse backgrounds on how the BC Energy Step Code works, its benefits, its origin, and its primary goals.
We will discuss how to identify the primary building design characteristics that contribute to a building’s ability to meet the requirements of Step 3 and above, and potential challenges associated with diverse Part 9 housing formats and locations in BC.
We will discuss how to check that a building energy model reported energy usage metrics to comply with Step 3 BCESC requirements and be able to translate the outcomes of the energy report in plain language (grade 5 level) to a client/homeowner.
We will discuss how to consider greenhouse gas emissions, both for intensity and total use, from building energy fuel type, the use of low carbon non-electric fuels, and the future compliance metrics that may govern their use.
So ultimately, builders would be able to quantitatively assess a building’s BC Energy Step Code compliance based on energy modeling results using thermal and mechanical energy use metrics.
We will discuss how to assign the appropriate party for filling out sections of the compliance report and understand the typical timing of generating inputs.
We will discuss how to check compliance reports for the correctness and realistic assumptions, including for diverse building characteristics, and communicate effectively with team members to gain assurance that compliance report inputs are correct. BC Energy Step Code Training Overview
So ultimately, builders would be able to coordinate the completion of modeling, testing, submissions, and inspections needed in the BC Energy Step Code compliance process for a diverse range of Part 9 construction projects.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of the groundwork for the overall design and compliance process and share the motivation behind this evolution towards performance-based code. It is not intended to cover design principles for the BCESC since it is covered in Module 2.
Module 2: Meeting the BC Energy Step Code by Design
We will discuss how to identify project coordination efforts that should be implemented to ensure design strategies are considered by the whole team.
We will discuss how to understand how house size/ ratio/orientation and window size/orientation can impact home energy performance and construction cost, including for a diverse range of Part 9 housing types.
We will discuss a list of common BC design and construction approaches that might have to be adjusted as Step 3 of the BCESC becomes code minimum, and as the BCESC progresses up to Step 5 with an increased focus on resilience
We will discuss how to communicate effectively to a diverse project team the key characteristics that should be considered at early-stage design for each of the building elements and track these decisions before permitting.
We will discuss how to compare mechanical systems that may become more common with Step 3 houses and beyond including their impact on energy use, and the home’s characteristics that impact mechanical design
So ultimately, builders would be able to explain to team members and clients the basic considerations for designing and building to the BCESC both for Step 3 and beyond, including considerations for future climate readiness, market expectations, potential cost implications, diverse building types, and future code readiness.
We will discuss how to estimate overall relative energy usage based on house shapes and ratios without knowing specific thermal or mechanical performance numbers.
We will discuss how to suggest improvements and potential optimization of a building’s overall design to help more easily achieve code requirements while considering the diversity of building types and occupants.
We will discuss how to identify key detailing and building form elements that can impact air tightness, thermal performance, and mechanical system installation.
We will discuss how to evaluate energy model metrics that can indicate heating and cooling thermal comfort for the occupant, including ventilation parameters
So ultimately, builders would be able to assess qualitatively a building’s likelihood of meeting various performance requirements of the BC Energy Step Code based on its design elements.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of how architectural and mechanical design choices can have a significant impact on certain building performance parameters, which can either help or hinder compliance as well as impact overall cost.
Module 3: Building Science for the BC Energy Step Code
We will discuss how to identify the key characteristics of typical building assemblies that impact the energy performance of the building
We will discuss the key enclosure selection criteria that affect the building construction cost and schedule.
We will discuss how to use building science principles to guide the evolution of the design and construction of building enclosures with increased R-value in the “envelope first” approach, accounting for BC’s five climate zones and diverse building types and occupancies.
We will discuss how to assess and mitigate the potential impacts of solar heat gain on occupant comfort, including a basic understanding of the solar heat gain coefficient, Low-E coatings, window operability, and the influence of mechanical systems
We will discuss how to differentiate between enclosure elements and construction practices for achieving airtightness and those intended for vapor control
So ultimately, builders would be able to apply to build science principles to help in the selection of durable building components, assemblies, and construction approaches in the diverse British Columbia climate and market.
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We will discuss how to find the typical ranges of assembly R-values associated with wood frame, below-grade concrete, and wood-frame roof assemblies.
We will discuss how to be mindful of prescriptive code items that still apply to building enclosures even if they are used as part of performance-based compliance and of design approaches that may require design professional involvement/sign-off during assembly selection.
We will discuss how to consider the five key design and construction criteria of cost efficiency, constructability, airtightness, moisture durability, and sustainability in selecting an appropriate enclosure assembly
We will discuss how to assess the benefits of an exterior-insulated assembly compared to an interior-insulated assembly in terms of building science principles.
We will discuss how to evaluate a window product based on key characteristics including NAFs rating, energy, durability, design options
We will discuss how to evaluate industry resources, product documentation, and training programs for their suitability as tools for builders in the context of the BCESC, including for diverse builder teams and building design perspectives.
So ultimately, builders would be able to use industry resources to determine appropriate enclosure components and assemblies, mechanical components, and construction approaches that can be used to meet the current and future requirements of the BCESC and achieve best practices.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of basic building science principles and would be able to apply them to the evolving/emerging enclosure design and construction practices required to meet the “envelope first” approach.
Module 4: Building Envelope Options for the BC Energy Step Code
We will discuss how to identify exterior wall assembly configurations that optimize cost, durability, and thermal performance including reduced thermal bridging, and buildability in all climate zones in BC.
We will discuss how to develop basic strategies for constructing wall assemblies that use exterior insulation that is durable and buildable.
We will discuss how to manage key design and construction concerns for below-grade concrete assemblies with increased thermal performance including reduced thermal bridging while using moisture control best practices.
We will discuss how to manage key design and construction concerns for roof assemblies with increased thermal performance including reduced thermal bridging, and airtightness while using moisture control and resilience best practices.
We will discuss the typical correct sequence of exterior wall membrane installation that includes airtightness and the use of exterior insulation and identify the parties in charge of each step in this sequence.
We will discuss the typical correct sequence of exterior insulation installation and identify the parties in charge of each step in this sequence.
We will discuss the correct overall sequence of typical airtightness and insulation detailing, and identify the parties in charge of each step in this sequence.
We will discuss how to align cost and construction priorities across the project team and with the owner/client, including for a diverse group of trades/subcontractors with a varying understanding of enclosure assemblies.
So ultimately, builders would be able to compare and contrast the performance, cost, constructability, compatibility, and future-readiness parameters at play in the design and construction of modern enclosure assemblies that are used in buildings meeting the BC Energy Step Code.
We will discuss how to list key planning considerations that contribute to the successful construction of a cost-effective building enclosure across a range of diverse housing types.
We will discuss how to identify key building specifications and drawing information that assists in enclosure assembly selection and construction, including key product information, detailing accessories, assembly thickness constraints, and window specifications.
We will discuss how to determine core competencies needed by team members in the enclosure construction process and implement ways to train them considering diverse backgrounds and learning styles, especially Indigenous persons and those from equity-seeking groups.
We will discuss the factors that can lead to improper installation and poor quality control in building enclosure construction, and how they can be addressed during design and early-stage construction
So ultimately, builders would be able to plan the construction of enclosure assemblies, including aligning a diverse range of trades/ subcontractors, managing supply chains, sequencing site work, and ensuring correct installation practices are used.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of the different options they have to achieve higher performance levels when it comes to the building assemblies and their interfaces.
Module 5: Air Barriers for the BC Energy Step Code
We will discuss how to appreciate the importance of the building air barrier as a way of significantly improving energy efficiency with minimal construction cost implications.
We will discuss how airtightness impacts energy performance from code minimum to current practices to best practices.
We will discuss how to describe the four attributes of a correctly installed building air barrier: air impermeability, durability, continuity, and stiffness.
We will discuss how to compare the design and construction sequence considerations of typical interior and exterior air barrier systems, including key details for implementing them successfully.
We will discuss how to assess cost trade-offs of different air barrier approaches including materials, installation techniques, sequencing, and effectiveness
So ultimately, builders would be able to select an appropriate air barrier approach for a given roof, wall, floor, and party-wall assembly based on performance, cost-effectiveness, and constructability, bearing in mind current and future BCESC requirements.
We will discuss a list of the key factors that contribute to the successful installation of a complete air barrier system.
We will discuss how to manage the key wood-frame construction practices that can interfere with achieving a successful air barrier, including coordination and education for all trades interacting with the enclosure.
We will discuss how to coordinate qualitative and quantitative testing at the appropriate times and use the results to track quality control of the air barrier.
So ultimately, builders would be able to apply knowledge of the correct design and installation practices for a given air barrier approach to properly manage the planning, installation, and testing of the building’s complete air barrier.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of the different options when selecting an air barrier approach, and the important planning steps associated with a successful air barrier.
Module 6: Mechanical Systems for the BC Energy Step Code
We will discuss how to compare strategies for improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions of mechanical systems both in the overall building design and in system selection, including for up-front and lifetime costing.
We will discuss how to set expectations for deliverables from the energy modeler and mechanical contractor regarding right-sizing, design and installation, quality assurance, and verification/ commissioning
We will discuss how to assess basic mechanical installations for overall quality and communicate with designers/ installers on areas of concern.
We will discuss how to evaluate basic code-compliant mechanical systems design and installation approaches and use industry resources to guide the selection of appropriate heating/ cooling/ventilation systems likely to be used in homes complying with Step 3 and beyond.
We will discuss how to compare the cost implications of the installation and operation of typical mechanical systems as part of the selection and evaluation process, including maintenance and lifecycle implications.
We will discuss how to manage the sequencing and coordination of the mechanical system installation and verification on-site to account for the BCESC compliance process including airtightness testing, inspections, commissioning, and compliance reports.
We will discuss how to assess modern and emerging mechanical systems for suitability and integration with homes built to BCESC Step 3 and beyond, especially relating to increased airtightness and future GHGI considerations.
We will discuss how to consider throughout design and construction the diverse range of occupants such as Indigenous persons, the elderly, and those from equity-seeking groups, who will be using the mechanical system to control interior conditions to meet their needs.
So ultimately, builders would be able to use knowledge of the basic characteristics of correctly designed and installed code-compliant mechanical systems used in BCESC homes when communicating with mechanical designers and mechanical trades.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of the correct design and construction steps for heating, cooling, and ventilation systems used in BCESC homes.
Module 7: Building Envelope Quality Assurance and Quality Control
We will discuss how to plan the correct sequencing for typical detail installation relating primarily to air barrier and insulation, without compromising other control functions and durability.
We will discuss how to identify key building enclosure QA/QC items from construction documents and plan for ways to address them including modifying details and using mockups.
We will discuss how to understand the scheduling, preparation, and testing process for airtightness testing at mid-construction and for final compliance, for both detached and attached homes.
We will discuss how to assess the suitability of qualitative and quantitative testing techniques in the construction process for BCESC homes, including challenges with diverse housing types
So ultimately, builders would be able to use basic quality assurance and quality control tools like mockups and airtightness testing to achieve airtight durable enclosures.
We will discuss how to use checklists to manage QA/ QC of key enclosure items related to BCESC compliance steps from design to completion, including avoiding costly errors and the need for repairs through effective quality assurance.
We will discuss how to effectively communicate to trade the key QA/QC items related to BCESC compliance and identify and mitigate potential conflict and bias that might arise between team members especially relating to different cultural backgrounds.
We will discuss how to identify desirable qualifications and responsibilities for an onsite QA/QC supervisor to support all aspects of BCESC compliance, including insulation, airtightness, and mechanical systems.
We will discuss how to enlist appropriate personnel, tools, and techniques for repairing incomplete enclosure items and improving building airtightness.
We will discuss how to integrate key quality assurance and quality control language relating to BCESC compliance into contract agreements with designers and trades, including performance-based contractual obligations
So ultimately, builders would be able to coordinate QA/ QC measures for enclosure detailing and airtightness control, including enlisting the correct parties responsible and tracking items from design through to completion.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of building envelope details that are more commonly associated with performance issues and have a better understanding of the quality assurance and control of the air barrier, and on diagnosis and repair of the air barrier with the assistance of air tightness testing.
Module 8: BC Energy Step Code Project Management
We will discuss how to recognize the overarching opportunity and impacts of the BCESC compliance process on project delivery approaches, including the value of early-stage design and the use of the Integrated Design Process.
We will discuss how to adjust the project schedule to account for coordinating supply chains and subcontractors in the context of the enclosure and mechanical systems and the compliance process associated with the BCESC.
We will discuss how to consider how the project can approach capacity development through inclusive training that considers the diverse range of trades/subcontractors entering the industry.
We will discuss how to determine the steps required to adjust current building processes to better integrate the BCESC compliance processes.
We will discuss how to coordinate the use of the Integrated Design Process in BCESC project delivery to manage costs and trade-offs
So ultimately, builders would be able to recognize the design and construction factors contributing to the success or failure of a building project in meeting its goals such as meeting BCESC requirements, staying on budget and on schedule, and maintaining working relationships with their team members and clients.
We will discuss how to set out expectations for team members around the timing of on-site checks including testing and inspections, interfacing with building official(s), and filling out and checking the compliance form.
We will discuss how to align project goals across team members to reduce miscommunication and set up appropriate support for team members including feedback and incentive structures for meeting quality and compliance targets.
We will discuss how to prepare safeguards and contingencies to mitigate and respond to missed BCESC requirements such as failed airtightness tests and energy modeling results
So ultimately, builders would be able to integrate broad project management and QA/QC tools that help lower the risk of failing to meet project goals.
Upon completion of this module, builders would have a better understanding of the ways in which the builder can manage the project, in cooperation with the rest of the project team and the trades, to achieve the expected performance levels.
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Reference/Resource information:
Building Envelope Guide for Houses Second Edition – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Achieving Airtight Buildings -BC Housing Research Centre
BC Energy Step Code Builder Guide – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Achieving Airtight Buildings -BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Energy Efficiency Requirements for Houses in British Columbia Climate Zone 4 – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Energy Efficiency Requirements for Houses in British Columbia Climate Zones 5 to 7A – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Energy Efficiency Requirements for Houses in British Columbia Climate Zones 7B and 8 – BC Housing Research Centre
Building Envelope Guide for Houses Second Edition – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide R22+ Effective Walls in Residential Construction in British Columbia – BC Housing research Centre
Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide R30+ Effective Vaulted & Flat Roofs in Residential Construction in British Columbia – BC Housing Research Centre
Illustrated Guide Achieving Airtight Buildings -BC Housing Research Centre
Mid-Construction BC Standard Verification Report - https://energystepcode.ca/app/uploads/sites/257/2019/08/Mid-Construction-BC-Standard-Verification-Report.pdf
BC Energy Step Code Builder Guide – BC Housing Research Centre
Strategies for Collaborative Construction: Integrated Project Delivery Case Studies – BC Research Centre
This course was created based on the above Reference/Resource information: purposely to help BC Housing promote the BC Energy Step Code, not for profit. We thank all the authors of videos, textbooks, and articles. 

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Marking Scheme
This program will have two parts; one part is a theory, and another part is practice.
Completion of distance class of theory will be counted as 50% towards the final grade, Completion of case study, term project, and presentation will be counted as 50% towards the final grade.
Grading scale for each class is as follows:
A 94-100%
A- 90-93%
B+ 86-89%
B 83-85%
B- 80-82%
C+ 75-79%
C 70-74%
D 60-69%
F 0-59%
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Requirements for Graduation
Courses with grades lower than “C” is not counted toward the completion of the corporate training program.
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Capacity (number of participants): 30
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Name of instructors: team of experts of Vancity Institute,
Jamie, Designer with Bachelor’s Degree of interior design and 25+ years of construction professional experience along with tremendous 10+ years experience in teaching and coaching
Vivian, Lawyer with Bachelor’s Degree of law, 25+ years of construction professional experience along with 10+ years experience in teaching and coaching
Richard, Engineer with Bachelor’s Degree of engineering, 25+ years of construction professional experience along with 10+ years experience in teaching and coaching
Bill, QS with Bachelor’s Degree of engineering, 30+ years of construction professional experience along with 10+ years experience in teaching and coaching
Thomas, architect with Bachelor’s Degree of architecture, 35+ years of construction professional experience along with 15+ years experience in teaching and coaching
Qian, Administrator and associate instructor, with Bachelor’s Degree of Economics, 8+ years of admin experience along with 8+ years experience in teaching and coaching


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