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Top Priority: Energy Performance

Building a new home? Energy performance should be top of mind, as early in the planning process as possible.

Gone are the days when you could simply make choices for your framing, HVAC, fireplace, air conditioning, insulation and even exterior finishing on the fly as construction proceeded. These days, you can’t even apply for a building permit without finalizing all of these choices.

A home’s energy efficiency now has to be a known quantity before any construction can begin here in BC (and across Canada and even in many parts of the western world). This is one of several ongoing changes to the BC Building Code that will ultimately see all new buildings in BC, including single family homes, be net zero by the year 2032.

What is net zero? According to the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA), a net zero home produces as much energy as it consumes and is up to 80 percent more energy efficient than a home built to conventional standards. Here in our province, the BC Energy Step Code has been created to guide our local governments, home builders, and home owners down a path that ultimately leads to full, mandatory net zero compliance by 2032. Municipalities and regional districts in BC, including the CSRD, are already incorporating the code’s “steps” over time so that full, mandatory compliance is achieved through a series of manageable and realistic incremental changes.

In late 2023, many municipalities and regional districts across BC (including the CSRD) adopted Step Three of the BC Energy Step Code. For single family homes, the requirement is to be 20 percent more energy efficient than was previously allowed. This improvement in energy efficiency can be achieved through many different ways, but regardless of the approach selected, it has to be clearly demonstrated prior to any issuance of a building permit can be applied for.

In practical terms, this means that our new clients have to select and confirm their windows and exterior doors, exterior wall construction, insulation, water heater, furnace and heat recovery ventilation, air conditioning, fireplaces, in-floor heating, basement wall type, and exterior finishes—and submit this information with their building permit application.

All of this information is needed so that mandatory energy performance modelling can be completed for any planned home.

You might be reading this and thinking, “That sounds like a lot of difficult choices and a lot of work!” We won’t lie—these are all complex, inter-related choices that some new clients struggle with even when they were only required to make them throughout the construction process. But it’s important to remember that all these choices have always been required at some point during construction of your home.

“Our experience tells us that moving these decisions into the pre-construction/pre-building permit planning process really doesn’t represent more work,” says Marcus Picton, CIFH President and CEO. “In fact, we find our clients are relieved to make these decisions prior to construction, and we also believe that the final product is often better due to this proactive planning. It’s also important to remember that, here at Copper Island Fine Homes, we’ve been leaders in energy efficiency since long before these changes became mandatory—we’ve got the knowledge and experience to help you make these decisions, and we’re committed to providing this assistance to you.”

Picton also reminds potential clients that it’s in their best interests to consider going above and beyond the Step Three requirements for energy efficiency.

“I think it’s safe to say that, when it comes to energy efficiency, we are the Shuswap’s leader,” he explains. “Through professional accreditation and experience, we’ve acquired a great deal of expertise in this area. Clients who we’ve helped take a highly energy-efficient approach are always extremely happy with their choices. With energy costs expected to continue rising, the payback time for investing in energy efficiency continues to be lowered. And so it’s making more economic sense with each passing year.”

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.