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Saving Money Through BC's Step Code

Energy Savings

Is it possible to save money through BC's Step Code?

Municipalities such as Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, North and Centra Saanich, View Royal, and Colwood are all raising the bar and adopting part of the voluntary BC Step Code. As a result, both residential and commercial builders are getting familiarized with energy modelling and enerlytic reports.

In most cases, a contractor or owner will hire an energy modeller to conduct a code review and adjust their building systems, including windows, doors and exterior insulation to meet the minimum Step Code. These requirements will be under review by the development and building code office. We often hear grumblings in the industry on how the Step Code has impacted the costs of building within the new energy standards. 

Armed with knowledge and a little bit of understanding of how energy modelling works; industry trades, contractors and owners can work together to assist with simple tradeoffs on key building system components to achieve the same compliance. At the design stage of your project, speaking with experts will allow you to better understand and appreciate how each component of your building envelope and mechanical systems are going to work together to achieve the overall desired building performance. Whether building to step 1 or step 5, there are major savings opportunities available.

Being More Energy Efficient

Are you currently building within a municipality and are looking at cost-saving measures for your customers or clients? Make sure you have allocated the budget to run a few different scenarios in the energy model to swap a few building systems: Let’s take a closer look.

Windows are a great way to save money on a project, as upgrading to a lower U-Value window may ultimately be cheaper than an exterior insulation package. Ask your energy adviser to run a few scenarios to determine the impact the U-Value has on other items on the project such as:

  • Exterior Insulation
  • HRV System

We often get great feedback working alongside energy modellers and engineers. One that I use daily with my customers is a quote that still resonates and has made a lot of impact on projects throughout British Columbia.

 “An energy advisor has indicated that if we use a U1.25 window in a step 3 building in most cases you can eliminate the need for exterior insulation.  The window to wall area needs to be below 25%.  Consider this in which windows you select.  You will pay a bit more for windows however you will save a considerable amount on the project in insulation.”

As we shape our region in the new Step Code format and become more familiar with how to build within the program, we will understand how to work together to not only build energy-efficient buildings but create more cost-effective projects that are profitable and sustainable. To wrap up, speak with the experts around you. Trust your trades and energy advisors. Look at your projects from a holistic perspective and you can find savings the next time you find yourself navigating the BC Step Code. Lastly, get a window geek in your corner!

We are your certified Window Geeks

Centra Windows is not only the manufacturer but also the installer of its product, which enables us to offer a full warranty, eliminating any confusion between product performance and installation. We view the house as a system and understand how each of the elements must work correctly to maximize the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Contact our local Employee Owners at 1-888-534-3333 or send us an email at for more information about this topic and many more. You can also sign up for our biweekly newsletter for all the tips and tricks about the window industry.

Written by: Les Ferris , November 13, 2021
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