Energy, and the way we use it, is perhaps one of the most critical sustainability challenges facing modern day societies. We use energy every day, for almost every task. It turns on our lights, cooks our food, keeps our houses warm, moves us, and entertains us. In terms of importance to our day-to-day lives, energy is comparable to shelter, behind only food, water, and clean air.
In order to understand how to sustainably use energy, it is important to know how the energy we use works and why our current practices are unsustainable. Read more about how energy in BC works and what makes it unsustainable.
Conserving energy is incredibly important for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change. In North America, we use far too much energy as part of our everyday lives, and reducing this unsustainable energy usage is an important step to take towards developing a sustainable society.
Climate Smart Business Program
Metro Vancouver and Lower Mainland municipalities invite you to join a group of local businesses that are cutting costs by cutting carbon emissions. The Climate Smart training program for businesses is built around a three-step process: measure, reduce, and leverage. Find out more about how it works.
Energy Rebates and Incentives
While altering our lifestyles and energy use habits are important strategies for conserving energy, sometimes there is just no substitute for investing in energy efficient technologies and upgrades. Whether you’re renovating your home, installing an EV charging station, or upgrading your appliances to be more energy efficient, institutions like BC Hydro and the provincial government offer multiple rebates and incentives to help cover the cost of conserving energy and living more sustainably.
Rebates offered by BC Hydro are intended to improve both home energy efficiency by upgrading appliances and prompting renovations, and business energy efficiency by connecting managers with energy professionals and motivating them to replace old technologies. Another way in which BC Hydro promotes energy conservation is through their Team Powersmart program; which challenges homeowners to reduce their electricity consumption by 10% over the course of a year.
Fortis BC offers a wide range of incentives and rebates for both business and residential energy use. This includes the replacement of old technologies, upgrades made to the building envelope, and the construction of energy efficient homes.
Energy Step Code
The provincial government enacted the regulation for the BC Energy Step Code in April of the year 2017. The standard aims to create healthier, more efficient, and more comfortable new buildings by establishing measurable energy-efficiency requirements for new construction. It aims to help ensure that new buildings will be designed and built, from the ground up, to be as energy-efficient as possible.
Using the BC Building Code to prompt the construction of higher performance buildings demonstrates the province’s understanding of how important our built environment is to sustainability and the mitigation of future climate change. By increasing the energy efficiency standard for new buildings, the annual GHG emissions from that building’s operations are reduced over the course of its life cycle. Given that buildings can exist for several decades, the total carbon reductions from this legislature are massive.
Within the step code there are several steps, or levels, of energy performance. The number of steps depends on the type of building being constructed. For detached, residential homes (part 9 buildings), there are five different steps demonstrating a pathway from enhanced energy code compliance (step 1) all the way to new-zero ready construction (step 5). You can learn more about how the code works from the provincial government.