- Blog

Building Ahead of Step Code with Higher Performing Homes

Copy Link
Building Ahead of Step Code with Higher Performing Homes

What is a high performance home?

A high performance home utilizes design, construction processes, methods, materials and technologies that prioritizes energy efficiency, sustainability and durability. The result of building a high performance home is typically a Net Zero and/or Net Zero Ready home. Net Zero homes produce as much clean energy as they consume and are up to 80% more energy efficient than typical new homes. Net Zero homes achieve this level of high performance through thoughtful design, high insulation, excellent airtightness, high performance windows and doors, controlled ventilation, and energy efficient mechanical systems and appliances. Net Zero Ready homes are built to the same standards as a NetZero home, but the only difference being the renewable energy system such as solar panels have not yet been installed. They would however, be designed and constructed to readily install solar panels at any point after the build.

Is it required to build a high performance home?

The Province of British Columbia has committed to increasing the energy efficiency of buildings to help reduce our carbon footprint. To do this, the province has implemented the BC Step Code program which is regulation that sets performance targets for new construction incrementally or in “steps”, to aid the construction industry's transition towards the higher demands of the upper steps of the program. By 2032, the target is for all new construction to be Net Zero Ready at “Step Code 5”. Until then, it is up to local governments and jurisdictions to implement the energy step code program and the rate in which they move up the step code until the mandated 2032 Step Code 5 deadline.

These energy requirements are a new performance-based approach rather than a prescriptive approach traditionally used in the industry prior to the BC Step Code program. The performance approach establishes the desired target outcome of a number of energy performance metrics and leaves it to the discretion of the designer and builder to decide how to achieve it.

As of 2023, most jurisdictions are at either step code 2 or 3, with some set to implement step code 4 in the coming years. To incentivize homeowners and designers/builders to build higher performing homes, some municipalities have density bonuses for projects committing to a higher step code.

Why build a high performance home with Novell Design Build now?

It has become our standard throughout the design build process to make your project as high performing as possible. Our clients will experience a seamless process of design, construction techniques and best practices for achieving a high performance home, no matter what the current legislated targets are for the jurisdiction of the subject property. We’re ahead of the curve! We believe its important to deliver high performance homes to our clients even before province legislated deadlines because your home is a long term investment and the benefits are:

  • Reduction in your household's environmental footprint overall.
  • Extend the life your home and remain up to date in energy standards well into the future.
  • Greater comfort, healthier living and well-being, due to advanced construction methods and materials which regulate temperature, air quality, noise and ventilation.
  • Durable and robust homes, which prevent mold and other damage that could cause early deterioration of building components.
  • Deliver exceptional value year round with lower energy costs, and future increases in energy costs will be less impactful.
  • Our designers and construction crew are gaining the knowledge and experience now, by executing the necessary techniques into practice and developing a routine.

What are the performance metrics used by the BC Step code to evaluate energy efficiency?

With performance-based metrics to evaluate a home’s energy performance, there isn’t one one way to achieve a high performance home. The BC Step Code performance metrics are:

  1. Air Tightness
  2. Mechanical Energy Use Intensity (MEUI)
  3. Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI)

It is important for high performance homes to be airtight in order to control and restrict the movement of air. Air is a transport mechanism for water, vapour, heat energy, and airborne contaminants. An airtight home will prevent uncontrolled heat loss from the building and therefore reduce the energy demand of the home’s mechanical systems. Furthermore, water vapour carried by air movement when uncontrolled, can cause damage to the building enclosure due to the risk of condensation when warm air leaks and comes into contact with a colder surface. Moisture accumulation inside the building enclosure can lead to mould and premature deterioration of building components.

Mechanical Energy Use Intensity
This metric measures the annual energy consumption of the building’s mechanical systems - space heating and cooling, ventilation and domestic hot water.

Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI)
TEDI represents the annual heating energy that is needed for the floor area of a building. Many factors impact TEDI such as wall/ceiling/floor assemblies, size/shape/orientation of the building, solar heat gain from the size/orientation/performance ratings of windows, and

How does Novell achieve a high performance home?

As a Design Build firm, Novell is able to take a holistic approach to achieving a high performance home build. From the design stage, we’ll study the site to determine ideal size, shape and orientation of the building to maximize the impact of the solar path of the site. We’re able to advise clients of ideal locations or sizes of windows, spaces or uses to correspond with the site’s unique characteristics. In the design stage, we’re also able to advise ideal assemblies, materials/products and identify potential areas of interest where further detailing would be required to ensure we meet the energy.

Once we get into construction, we have designated our Site Supervisor, Angelito as our “Air boss” to make sure an airtightness plan is in place and strictly followed by our crews and sub-trades. We make sure areas and penetrations at risk for air leakage are properly sealed.

Ready to build a high-performance home?

Sources: Canadian Home Builder’s Association and BC Energy Step Code

No items found.
- Related Posts


Filmed in part on a Novell active site and featuring our very own Site Supervisor, Angelito Camaclang, we are proud to be Trades-Made and part of the 2023 Red Wing Shoes Campaign.

In Search of the Missing Middle

Great news! Regulatory change from the Province of BC will permit the development of three or four residential units on lots currently zoned single-family or duplex and up to six units on larger lots. The goal is to increase housing supply, reduce the red tape associated with middle-density, and improve housing affordability.

Vaulted Heights and Unlacquered Gold in our Kitsilano Residence