BC Energy Step Code and Universal Access Design 

Information about the BC Energy Step Code and Universal Access Design

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1 . BC Energy Step Code

New home construction on the island is an opportunity to ensure Gabriola’s housing stock is highly energy efficient and designed to meet the diverse and changing needs of the occupants.

Currently in British Columbia, all new dwellings must be constructed to meet the requirements of the BC Building Code, and manufactured homes must meet the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requirements. In 2032, the province will be introducing new mandatory regulations to ensure all new dwellings also comply with the “BC Energy Step Code” which will result in homes that use “net-zero energy”.

Net-zero energy buildings produce as much clean energy as they consume. They are up to 80 percent more energy efficient than a typical new building, and they use on-site (or near-site) renewable energy systems to produce the remaining energy they need.

A net-zero energy ready building is one that has been designed and built to a level of performance such that it could, with the addition of solar panels or other renewable energy technologies, achieve net-zero energy performance.

The BC Energy Step Code is currently voluntary but local governments may use it, if they wish, to incentivize or require a level of energy efficiency in new construction that goes above and beyond the requirements of the BC Building Code.


2 . Universal Access Design

Universal access design (or “adaptable housing”) means designing a home in an adaptable way to make future renovations easier and less costly. Changes to a home may be needed if your mobility changes through illness, injury or due to aging, or if you family size grows. The median age on Gabriola Island in the 2016 Census was 61 (which means half the population was over the age of 61 and the other half was under).  

Currently in BC the BC Building Code has accessibility requirements for public buildings, but not for private homes. A local government could require that any rezoning that would result in new dwellings, include universal access design elements to ensure the new housing stock is more adaptable to meet the changing needs of occupants.

Universal Access Design:

  • Helps people stay in their own homes through illness, injury or aging
  • Provides housing options for accessibility for people with disabilities
  • Reduces the cost of future renovations to accommodate people whose abilities change or whose family size increases.

Design and construction can include:

  • Corridors, doorways, bathrooms and kitchens that are easier for people with disabilities to use
  • Features like approachable and reachable electrical outlets and switches
  • Building in a way that allows for future installation of items such as grab bars in bathrooms
  • Building in a way that “roughs in” a secondary suite contemplates an addition, where zoning permits.

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