Consequences of the BC Energy Step Code on Offsite Construction


  • Guido Wimmers Master of Engineering in Integrated Wood Design, University of Northern British Columbia
  • Alison Conroy Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, University of Northern British Columbia



In Canada, off-site construction is still the exception rather than the norm when it comes to wood construction. In Europe’s Alpine Region or Scandinavian countries, off-site construction is standard when it comes to wood construction. This paper will focus on the reasons why Canada’s wood construction industry will shift from mainly on-site to mainly off-site construction over the next 10 to 15 years. In countries with relatively demanding requirements on energy efficiency and air tightness, off-site construction has been dominating the market for more than 20 years. British Columbia adopted the BC Energy Step Code in 2017, a roadmap defining the energy efficiency of buildings over the coming years leading up to 2032, when all new construction will be required to be Net Zero ready. It is expected that the National Building Code of Canada will also encourage higher energy performance levels in the near future. Consequently, thermally better-performing envelopes will have to be produced and rigorous air tightness levels will have to be achieved for the sustainability goals given by the province. Envelope assemblies will get thicker, bulkier and heavier to meet these requirements. In this regard, a market shift to a greater amount of off-site construction is likely to be experienced to meet these targets in a controlled environment. This study is exploring the direct and indirect connections between sustainability and energy efficiency requirements given by codes to technical and cost-efficient solutions offered by industry.