North Shore: Step it up on the Step Code

One of the largest sources of emissions in Metro Vancouver is buildings, and here on the North Shore they account for almost half of our community emissions.

But our cities have the power to jump start the transformation to zero-emission buildings right now. British Columbia has ambitious legislation called the ‘Step Code’: optional building regulations that municipalities can adopt that improve the energy efficiency of new buildings. Essentially, the Step Code works like a ladder - every step up from Step 1 to Step 5 means higher energy efficiency of all new buildings (if you want a comprehensive overview check out the Step Code website).

But the provincial legislation is gradual, and under that legislation Step 5 - net-zero energy ready - will not be reached until 2032. That means that every year, more buildings are being built that will have to be retrofitted in the future. Municipalities have the power to move to higher steps at any time, so why not start building to the highest possible standards, right now?

While energy efficiency is important it does not equate to emission free buildings. We also need to build buildings that are not powered by fossil gas. This is where the Step Code becomes really exciting, as municipalities can adopt a low-emission pathway - like Surrey are already doing. A low-emission pathway allows developers the option to build slightly less efficient buildings, Step 3 instead of Step 4, if they power the building with a low-emission energy source. This incentivizes developers to use lower emission heating & cooling systems within new buildings.All three North Shore municipalities have already moved to Step 3 out of 5. And the District of West Vancouver has jumped ahead committing to Step 5 with a low emission pathway by February 2021 while the District of North Vancouver has committed to reach higher levels of the Code and reach zero fossil fuel use in new buildings by 2026.

Therefore, before the end of 2020, we are calling on the the City of North Vancouver to align with the rest of the North Shore to:

  • Map out a pathway and timeline to get to the highest Step Code step for each type of building before 2025.
  • Include a low-emission pathway. Developers will be able to opt for a lower step if they only use low-emission energy source to heat and power the building rather than fossil gas.
  • Include a greenhouse gas measurement requirement.

If we want to hit our 2050 target of net-zero emissions buildings are one of the single most important areas we need to take action on. And we need your help to make sure every municipality is Stepping it up on the Step Code. Will you join us?