When building a house, it is important to ensure that the building will meet certain safety requirements. The BC Building Code gives builders the minimum requirements for answering questions like ‘how high should a guardrail be?’ and ‘how do we prevent a fire from spreading from room to room?’. It also gives builders information on structural details, like the number of fasteners to use or how much of a load-bearing beam should sit on a supporting post. These bits of knowledge ensure that all construction done in British Columbia is completed in a way that will provide a safe and comfortable dwelling space capable of withstanding the elements for a reasonable amount of time. However, the BC Building Code only represents the minimum standard to which buildings must be constructed (building lower quality that BC Code is illegal). There are other voluntary building standards that are becoming more popular.
Since April 2017, the BC Energy Step Code has been a guideline for builders who want to exceed the minimal energy efficiency requirements put in place by the BC Building Code. The overall goal of the BC Energy Step Code is to gradually encourage builders to build more energy-efficient buildings. Its final goal is for all new construction in BC to be “net-zero energy ready” by 2032. These are gradual steps that will take place over time and are not required by law at the moment.
The Passive House building standard is one of the highest building standards available today. Unlike homes built to the BC Building Code or the BC Energy Step Code, Passive House buildings are already “net-zero energy ready.” Passive House buildings meet or exceed the basic safety requirements of the BC Building Code and are as energy efficient as the BC Energy Step Code aims to be in 15 years. Remarkably, the energy efficiency of Passive House buildings provides some unexpected benefits. As expected, there are significant savings on energy use (up to 90% less than BC Building Code), but also, the day-to-day comfort and quality of living experience is unparalleled: the air is clean, the temperature is consistent throughout the house, and there is no noise pollution. So, not only do Passive House buildings exceed the legal requirements for building, they also provide a significantly higher quality living space for their occupants.
In an industry that is beginning to make a drastic shift towards energy efficiency, the Passive House standard goes well beyond the minimum requirements and is years ahead of voluntary standards.
To read more about the BC Building Code click here
To read more about the BC Energy Step Code click here
To read more about the fundamentals of the Passive House standard click here