BC Energy Step Code to be implemented along with top-up incentive funding for home renovation rebate program
Whistler is moving ahead with three initiatives aimed at improving energy performance of new and existing residential buildings in Whistler.
The first initiative is an amendment to Whistler’s building and plumbing regulation bylaw to enable the BC Energy Step Code (ESC) within Whistler. The Energy Step Code is a tool that local governments can use to require a higher level of energy efficiency in new construction than the requirements of the base BC Building Code.
When implemented, the Energy Step Code, will apply to all new Part 9 residential buildings in Whistler (generally single family, duplex and smaller multi-family buildings).
The other two initiatives apply to existing residential buildings. The municipality will continue to provide Power Down Home Energy Assessment incentives to help support the transition to the new Energy Step Code performance requirements, and will provide an additional $2,000 top-up incentive funding (in addition to provincial rebate values) for eligible heat pump conversions in support of the Province’s upcoming Home Renovation Rebate - Partnership Retrofit program.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said, “These initiatives are tangible steps to reduce emissions and improve the energy performance of buildings in Whistler, which consume approximately two thirds of the energy used in Whistler annually, while supporting recommendations in the 2016 Community Energy and Climate Action Plan.”
“We are pleased to move ahead with implementation of the Energy Step Code for new homes—something that the North Shore communities, City of Vancouver, District of Squamish and others have also been integrating in their municipal bylaws, as well as continuing to provide incentive funding for energy efficiency upgrades for existing homes.”
Implementing the Energy Step Code
Developed over a number of years by a provincial working group, the Energy Step Code (ESC) establishes a series of measurable, performance-based energy efficiency requirements for construction that builders can choose to build to, and communities can choose to adopt in local bylaws and policies.
Municipal staff and the local building sector have been working with the provincial government and the Energy Step Code Council on the development of the ESC framework, and are supportive of the current opportunities and structure that it provides.
A local stakeholder working group was convened to discuss potential implementation of the ESC in Whistler, and has recommended moving to Step 3 of the Energy Step Code for Part 9 residential buildings, effective January 1, 2019, to allow sufficient time for in-progress design projects to be completed, and contractors or homeowners managing new projects to be aware of the pending changes. To ensure successful integration, the working group has also recommended providing training programs, site visits and opportunities to learn about the specific requirements of the ESC, as well as hands-on opportunities to learn more about energy modelling on actual building sites.
The municipality is also requiring a slightly higher energy performance (Step 4) for any new Part 9 residential buildings on properties applying for rezoning to increase density or permit additional uses, and any new residential buildings that include construction of additional in-ground basement floor area excluded from gross floor area calculations.
Learn more at whistler.ca/stepcode.
PowerDown home assessments
Council is supportive of staff continuing to deliver the Power Down Home Energy Assessment incentive program to provide rebates of up to $250 for a home energy evaluation, which would usually cost homeowners $350 to $500. Learn more about the program at whistler.ca/PowerDown.
Retrofit Partnership program and top-up
In September, the Province of BC will be launching a new Retrofit Partnership program, which will be integrated with the existing Home Renovation Rebate (HRR) and will continue to be administered by the utility sector. Whistler Council has supported providing optional top-up funding for Retrofit Partnership rebates to increase potential retrofit uptake levels and maximize GHG reductions in Whistler.
This funding of a maximum of $50,000 over two years, will provide a $2,000 municipal rebate in addition to the Province’s $2,000 rebate for up to 25 property owners to incentivize a switch from natural gas or propane-based furnaces to electrical heat pump systems. This switch has the potential to yield the single most substantive greenhouse gas reduction potential of any available retrofit strategy for these homes. A typical upgrade to a heat pump system for an existing home will range from $10,000 to $12,000, and up to $17,000 for larger or more complicated installations.
More information about this program will be provided on whistler.ca, when it is available.