Public Review of Green Code Change Proposals

Proposal for Energy Efficiency Requirements for High-Rise Multi-Family Residential Buildings and Larger Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Buildings
  1. BC Building Code objectives met by the proposed change:
    • Health
    • ‘Green building’ objectives, such as energy conservation, water conservation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, use of non-reactive building materials, and resource or site sustainability.

  2. Why are these changes being proposed?

    The Province has committed to a greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 33 per cent by the year 2020 and an energy conservation target equivalent to 50 per cent of BC Hydro’s electricity demand growth by 2020. The building sector will be expected to construct new buildings that will contribute to achieving these target reductions. In addition, the Province has committed to introducing new green building code requirements that will implement the highest energy efficiency standards in Canada. This will result in houses in B.C. costing less to heat and will reduce impacts on the environment.

    Changes to the BC Building Code are required to make energy and resource conservation an objective of the Code and to introduce energy efficiency standards for non-Part 9 buildings. Non-Part 9 buildings include commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-unit residential buildings, over 600 square meters of floor space or more than three storeys high. The Province of Ontario and City of Vancouver have regulated standards for non-Part 9 buildings, along with 45 U.S. states, including Washington, Oregon and California.

    The British Columbia market has demonstrated strong leadership on energy efficiency through the Leadership on Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the Canadian Green Building Council, targeting primarily the institutional sector.  However, the majority of commercial and multi-unit residential buildings do not incorporate cost-effective, energy efficiency standards. As a result, consumers have higher than necessary energy costs and buildings produce higher than necessary GHG emissions. Without changes to the B.C. Building Code it is unlikely that new buildings will be constructed to standards aligned with the Province’s GHG reduction targets. The advantage of increased standards in the Code is that this will level the playing field for all developers and builders ensuring that all consumers benefit from these new standards.

    Several local governments have policies that support energy efficiency such as rezoning requirements or density bonuses. While the principle of local government leadership on energy efficiency is strongly supported by the Province, there is industry and consumer confusion around the range of different standards being promoted (e.g., LEED, Power Smart, etc).

    The Energy Efficient Buildings Strategy (Attachment No. 1) provides further background on this matter.

  3. What is being proposed and how these proposals meet the provincial target?

    A new energy efficiency objective will be added to the BC Building Code. This proposal will enable high-rise multi-family residential buildings and most non-residential buildings to meet this new objective.

    Under this proposal, high-rise multi-family residential buildings (more than four storeys above grade), which fall under Part 3 of the Code, and larger commercial, institutional and industrial (Part 3) buildings must meet the 2004 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), number 90.1. This standard does not apply to smaller (Part 9) non-residential buildings or low-rise residential buildings (four storeys or less), which are captured by a separate proposal. Heritage buildings, as defined in the B.C. Building Code, are exempted from the requirements in this proposal.

    The ASHRAE 90.1 standard can be viewed on the Internet at

    Four background reports on this proposal are included as Attachments No. 2 through No. 4. Attachment No. 2 outlines the impacts of the ASHRAE 90.1 (2001) standard. Attachment No. 3 outlines the lighting power density requirements of ASHRAE 90.1 (2004) and Attachments No. 4 and No. 4a outline the glazing requirements of ASHRAE 90.1 (2004).

    The ASHRAE 90.1 (2004) standard applies to the following components of a building:

    • Building Envelope – including opaque walls, glazing and air tightness.
    • Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) – including requirements for heat recovery.
    • Service water heating.
    • Power – focusing on voltage drop.
    • Lighting – emphasizing the overall system design based on building type or designed use of space.
    • Other equipment – focusing on motors.

    Compliance with the standard can be achieved through prescriptive, performance, and simplified performance paths.

    1. The prescriptive path is a simple approach and provides specific equipment and design components to meet the prescribed energy efficiency standard. These are detailed below.
    2. The performance path uses the Building Energy Cost Budget Method (ECB) method. This approach uses energy performance simulation software, giving the designer the flexibility to trade off energy use among lighting; envelope; heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and service water heating systems.

      First, an energy cost budget (i.e., its allowed energy target) is established for the building, by simulating its energy performance using the prescriptive requirements and applying local published utility rates. Second, the design energy cost is determined for the proposed design with its actual building characteristics. The design energy cost must be equal to or less than the energy cost budget for compliance to be achieved. For example, a high-rise, multi-family residential building with 49 per cent glazing could meet the ASHRAE 90.1 standard by using a high-efficiency heating system, such as with exhaust heat recovery and/or geo-exchange, instead of providing for a superior performance envelope system.

    3. Simplified performance paths are available for the building envelope, HVAC and lighting, offering a variety of prescriptive requirements combined with flexibility provisions, such as with the Building Envelope Trade-Off Option, the Simplified Approach for HVAC and the Building Area Method and Space-by-Space method for lighting.

    Buildings with more than 50 per cent glazing are not eligible for the prescriptive building envelope path, but need to use the Building Envelope Trade-Off option or the full ECB method. However, this should not pose a significant design cost burden, as a major British Columbia engineering firm has indicated that they charge no additional fees for pursuing the Building Envelope Trade-Off option. Further, the City of Vancouver's Energy Utilization Inspector has indicated that buildings typically demonstrated compliance using the trade-off method (via ASHRAE's Envstd software program).

    The ASHRAE 90.1 (2004) standard is based on the specific climate where the building is constructed, which includes a number of one through eight that reflects the heating and cooling needs and a letter of A, B or C that reflect humid, dry and coastal climates respectively. The following climate zones are relevant to British Columbia:

    • Greater Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Nanaimo and southwest coast – Zone 5C
    • Okanagan, Kamloops and south – Zone 5B
    • Prince Rupert and central coast – Zone 6C
    • Southern interior, north of Kamloops, east of Okanagan – Zone 6B
    • Prince George, Dawson Creek and northern interior – Zone 7B
    • Fort Nelson and north of Fort St John – Zone 8B

    Different climate zones set different standards for building envelope performance levels. For example, wall insulation levels for wood-framed residential buildings more than 600m2 or three stories are as follows:

    • Zone 5 – RSI thermal resistance greater than or equal to 2.3 meters squared (m2) degree Kelvin (K) per watt (W) -- approximately R-12 in imperial units
    • Zone 6 – RSI >= 2.3 plus 0.7 continuous insulation (ci) – less than R-20
    • Zone 7 and Zone 8 – RSI >= 2.3 plus 1.3ci – approximately R-22

    Example of the prescriptive path
    Highlights of key prescriptive items that are required for Zone 5C (coastal British Columbia) for steel-framed, residential buildings with 49% glazing include the following:

    • Building Envelope
      • building envelope sealing
      • air leakage rate limits for glazing and doors
      • vestibules for doors not associated with a dwelling unit
      • wall insulation of RSI 2.3 plus 1.3ci – approximately R-22
      • continuous roof insulation of RSI 2.64 – R-15
      • floor insulation of RSI 5.3
      • heated slab on grade floors RSI 1.8 for 0.9 meters
      • glazing performance with a heat loss coefficient less than or equal to 2.61 W/m2/K for fixed windows and 2.67 for operable windows
    • Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC)
      • control of HVAC system by zone (6.4.3)
      • assurance of no simultaneous heating and cooling in a zone (various)
      • automatic shutdown of HVAC systems with a timer, occupant sensor or other approach (,
      • installation of dampers for supply of outdoor air or exhaust (
      • piping, duct and plenum insulation and sealing (6.4.4)
      • use of fresh air economizers to reduce the use of chillers for a capacity of greater than 19kW (3.5 ton of cooling capacity, or 41,000 BTU/hr) (6.5.1)
      • water economizers and hydronic system controls where appropriate (
      • fan power limitations (1.7 to 1.9 kW per 1000 litre per second for constant volume or 2.4 to 2.7 kW/1000L/s for variable volume) ( and control requirements
      • exhaust air energy recovery of 50% for heating systems with a design supply air capacity of 2400 litres per second and at least 70% outdoor air supply (
      • condenser heat recovery for service water heating systems for large, continuously operated buildings with a service water heating load of over 293 kW (1 mmBtuh) and a cooling system heat rejection capacity of over 1759 kW (500 tons) (
      • various equipment standards for air conditioners and condensing units; heat pumps; water chillers; packaged terminal, single package and room air conditioners and heat pumps; furnaces; boilers; heat rejection equipment and centrifugal chillers
    • Service water heating – tank efficiency, temperature and pump controls, pool covers or solar thermal
    • Power – voltage drop less than 2% of design load for feeder conductors and 3% for branch circuits
    • Lighting – lighting power density of 12 watts per square meter of floor space on average
    • Other equipment – motors meeting NEMA standards.

    This standard is effectively required within the City of Vancouver under their Building Bylaw – see the website: for more information. While the Bylaw references the 2001 edition of the ASHRAE 90.1 standard, it has also adopted the addenda to that standard, including the more stringent lighting power density standards in Addendum G.

    Other changes to the ASHRAE 90.1 standard between 2001 and 2004 include the following:

    • Climatic Regions. A major change in the Standard from 2001 to 2004 is the reduction in climatic regions from 26 to 8.The resulting 8 climate zones are consistent with US Department of Energy (DOE) and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) climate tables. As a result of this change, the building envelope requirements for B.C.’s south coast region (referred to as region A herein) have changed and are now identical to those of the southern Interior region (referred to as region B herein). Most of the building envelope requirements for the southern and northern Interior regions have not changed from 2001 to 2004 (northern Interior region is referred to as region C herein).
    • Building Envelope (ASHRAE 90.1 Section 5). Changes to building envelope requirements in region A (South Coast) affect a residential roof type, several commercial and residential above-grade wall RSI-values, several commercial and residential floor RSI-values, a heated slab-on-grade F-factor in semi-heated spaces, and the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) for more than half of the commercial and residential fenestration configurations in the table.
    • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) (ASHRAE 90.1 Section 6). A few additions to HVAC minimum standards have been presented in ASHRAE 90.1-2004. These relatively minor changes include insulation requirements on return air ducts (section, Table 6.8.2B) and ventilation fan control requirements (section
    • Electrical and Lighting (ASHRAE 90.1 Sections 8, 9, & 10). Lighting power density maximum values have decreased significantly (by approx. 30 per cent) in ASHRAE 90.1-2004. Additionally, exit sign power allowances have been dramatically decreased. Light auto-off features are now required in all classrooms, meeting rooms and conference rooms after no activity is sensed for 30 minutes. Finally, there is a new calculation that is required for exterior lighting. Once again, the 2004 lighting power requirements are identical to those in Addendum G of ASHRAE 90.1-2001.

    A number of programs are in place to support this code change proposal. BC Hydro and FortisBC have programs that promote the ASHRAE and Model National Energy Code for Buildings standards.

    Finally, several local governments provide incentives and/or accelerated building permit approvals for energy-efficient and green buildings.

  4. What specific changes to the BC Building Code are being proposed?
  5. How are local government and industry representatives being consulted?

    The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources began consultations in 2003 on this proposed Code change. The Review of Energy Performance Measures for Buildings established a Ministers’ Advisory Group with the following parties:

    • BC Buildings Corporation
    • BC Hydro
    • Building Owners’ and Managers’ Association of BC
    • Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC
    • FortisBC
    • Greater Vancouver Regional District
    • National Association of Industrial and Office Properties
    • Natural Resources Canada
    • Other Provincial Ministries
    • Terasen Gas
    • Union of BC Municipalities
    • Urban Development Institute (not an active participant)

    This process resulted in the completion of a consensus report, Energy Efficient Buildings Strategy, that was presented to Cabinet in 2005. The strategy, Energy Efficient Buildings: A Plan for BC was released in September 2005 with ten collaborative measures with key stakeholders such as those listed above.The energy efficient buildings strategy is attached in draft.

    For the 2007/08 Green Building Code discussions, two advisory committees have been formed:

    1. Industry Advisory Committee, having met three times as of September 11, 2007, consisting of stakeholders from the development, professional, academic, building manager and utility perspectives; and,
    2. Inter-Ministry Advisory Committee, having met three times as of October 11, 2007, consisting of representatives from all relevant ministries.

    Both committees have indicated that the proposal is on target.

    In addition, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists have formed a BC Green Building Code Task Force, with membership by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, that is advising on appropriate standards.

    Finally, the following consultation meetings have been set up to discuss this proposal:

    • November 22 - Building Officials Association of BC, Richmond
    • November 21 - BC Building Envelope Council, Victoria
    • November 16 - UDI Kelowna
    • November 14 - UDI Victoria
    • November 6 - UDI Pacific, Vancouver
    • November 1 - Council of Education Facilities Planners Conference, Victoria
    • October 31 - Comox Valley seminar
    • October 25 - Workshop with architects and building industry organized by Euroline windows, Delta
    • October 25 - BC Wood - re: wooden door manufacturers, Langley
    • October 17 - NRCan Building and Energy Code Collaborative, Saskatoon
    • October 17 - CHBA-BC workshop on Green Building Code, Vancouver
    • October 17 - BC Hydro Power of Business Forum, Vancouver
    • October 16 - CHBA Northern British Columbia
    • October 12 - Window and Door Manufacturers of BC, Burnaby
  6. Are the proposed changes scientifically sound?

    A detailed, science-based, cost/benefit study has been completed for the ASHRAE 90.1 (2001) standard, included as Attachment No. 2. In addition, specific analysis was completed for lighting power density (Attachment No. 3) and glazing requirements (Attachment No. 4 and NO. 4a) of ASHRAE 90.1 (2004), the two major differences from the ASHRAE 90.1 (2001) standard.

    These studies collectively show that the proposed new standards are cost-effective and represent technically feasible construction practices in the building industry.

    Modelling was completed for three regions of British Columbia:

    1. south coast (Vancouver);
    2. southern interior (Kamloops); and,
    3. northern interior (Prince George). 

    Analysis was completed for the following types of buildings:

    • low-rise office
    • high-rise office
    • big box retail
    • high-rise, multi-family residential
    • tilt-up warehouse (with mass wall)
    • extended care
    •  hospital
    • hotel/motel
    • school/university/college

    The recommended standard is developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The mission of ASHRAE is to advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world. ASHRAE vision is to be the global leader, the foremost source of technical and educational information, and the primary provider of opportunity for professional growth in the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating.

    The ASHRAE 90.1 (2004) standard was developed with significant scientific rigour based on both theoretical models of energy performance of buildings and empirical evidence of energy savings benefits of alternative building designs, building components and equipment. ASHRAE writes consensus standards that are developed and published to define minimum values or acceptable performance. In addition, they develop design guides that may be developed and published to encourage enhanced performance. ASHRAE is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and follows ANSI's requirements for due process and standards development.  

    The standard is under continuous maintenance via a specific Standing Standard Project Committee (SSPC). A formal process is in place to make changes to the standard by any party, including members of the SSPC. In addition, ASHRAE conducts research to address:

    • Comfort and Productivity
    • Quality of the Indoor and Outdoor Environment
    • Security, Safety, and Health
    • Cost Effectiveness

    Two ASHRAE chapter organizations are in place in British Columbia – the B.C. Chapter based in the Lower Mainland and the Vancouver Island Chapter. The B.C. chapters maintain a website at

  7. How will these changes reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

    As outlined in Attachment No. 2, the province-wide emissions reductions are estimated about 290,000 tonnes per year by 2020, or 96,500 tonnes by 2010, assuming the standard was implemented in 2005. It is noted that the Vancouver Building Bylaw implemented this standard in that year – and a large proportion of the provincial construction market was subject to that standard. Note that these estimates are based on ASHRAE 90.1-2001 and the impact likely is higher for 90.1-2004 since the lighting requirements were significantly improved. From a BC Hydro sponsored study for assessing the impact of ASHRAE 90.1-2001 for the City of Vancouver , which included the improved lighting requirements of Addendum G (same as 90.1-2004), the additional lighting impact was estimated at about 5.0 kg/mē for the new commercial market floor space added in Vancouver since the Energy Bylaw was updated.

    Note that a recent independent study reviewed the key differences between ASHRAE 90.1-2001 and 90.1-2004, in addition to possible changes in the new construction market, to assess the projected impacts from the 90.1-2004 adoption . This study confirmed that there are very few market barriers to the adoption of the standard. It further verified that the study in Attachment No. 2 provides for a reasonable assessment of the anticipated market impacts and projections for ASHRAE 90.1 applied to B.C.

    Study on the impact of Vancouver's adoption of ASHRAE 90.1-2001, including all addenda, by EnerSys Analytics and sponsored by BC Hydro, is in progress and pending finalization once market penetration estimates from the City are finalized.

    Study by Stantec:  BC Hydro Analysis of Energy Efficiency Standards for Buildings, 5 October 2007.

  8. How will these changes reduce energy consumption?

    As per the table in the previous section, the energy savings are estimated at 5.16 million gigajoules (GJ) in 2020, or 1.72 million GJ in 2010, assuming the standard was in place in 2005. As previously indicated for the greenhouse gas emission impacts, these estimates are likely conservative given the significant reduction in lighting with the 2004 Standard in comparison to the 2001 Standard. Once again, this was effectively verified by a second study which focused on the provisions of ASHRAE 90.1-2004 as compared to the previous 2001 version.

  9. Will these changes improve indoor air quality?

    The provisions in this proposal will improve indoor air quality by reducing interior condensation on walls and windows. This also provides for improved building durability.

  10. Is the proposal cost effective?

    This proposal is cost-effective. Life-cycle costing reports included as Attachments No. 2, 3 and 4 all have positive outcomes. While building costs will increase as a result of new requirements, energy costs will decline such that net financial savings will occur. The Net Present Value is determined by subtracting incremental capital costs from the sum of annual energy savings, discounted to reflect the cost of capital.

    The results of the analysis for Attachment No. 2 illustrate the following:

    • Net capital costs of $385.7 million will by invested by 2020, $128.6 million by 2010.
    • Annual energy savings are $54.1 million in 2020, $18.3 million in 2010.
    • Total net energy savings, over and above incremental capital costs, are $206.2 million in 2020, $68.7 million in 2010.

    In other words, the construction industry will invest $385.7 million between 2005 and 2020 that will result in annual energy savings of $54.1 million in the year 2020, providing a discounted savings of $206.2 million, over and above capital costs between 2005 and 2020.

  11. How will compliance be demonstrated?

    Compliance with the proposed requirements can be demonstrated through a Letter of Assurance (LOA) signed by a professional engineer or architect stating that the building conforms to the ASHRAE standard 90.1-2004 (either through the performance path or prescriptive path), provided to the authority having jurisdiction (this is the system used in the City of Vancouver). Compliance can also be confirmed by demonstrating that the building’s energy performance is 25% better than the 1997 Model National Energy Code for Buildings.

  12. Other reference materials: