BC Energy Step Code: Here's why BC builders need only modules 3, 4, and 5

BC Energy Step Code: Here's why BC builders need only modules 3, 4, and 5

Shawna HendersonNovember 17, 2022

In fact, Blue House Energy only offers these 3 out of the 8 mandatory modules — why?

Envelope First.

That’s why.

Blue House Energy online construction courses - Building Science, Construction Technology, Net Zero Energy - all emphasize understanding the envelope first, then understanding the fundamentals of HVAC systems.

Our experience is that the Envelope First approach is key to long-term success for comfort, health, durability, and energy conservation. 

Notice that comfort, health, and durability come before energy. 

While energy efficiency and energy conservation measures were a response to high energy prices back in the 1970s, the reality is that a well-designed thermal envelope that minimizes thermal bridging, air leakage, and moisture problems provides an amazingly comfortable and healthy indoor environment where controlled ventilation provides clean, filtered air as an integral part of the HVAC system. Energy efficiency becomes a bonus point, not the driver!

Envelope First: The Building Science Approach

This is how we should be building houses and this is how we should be retrofitting houses. All house building and construction training courses need to focus on the envelope. Start with the components of the building that are more or less permanent. Foundations, walls, roofs - they're likely not going to be touched for 30-50 years and then, often, it’s only the wall and roof cladding that get replaced once or twice. The structure and the air/moisture/heat flow control layers are left as-is (insert that grimacing emoji right here!). Mechanical equipment lifespans can be half of that, and appliance/lighting lifespans can be even less. 

The best (and least expensive) time to improve the building envelope for the long-term is in the construction phase!

Blue House Energy responded to BC Housing’s request for training providers for their Step 3 Mandatory Training Program by focusing on what we know best: the house as a system. We have always been building science nerds, focused on the envelope first, then the mechanicals - control of the envelope means smaller capacity equipment and less energy to keep occupants comfortable. The BC Energy Step Code is built around the Envelope First approach, as are NRCan’s retrofit programs through the Greener Homes Initiative.

BC Housing and Mandatory Builder Training for Step 3

Now that BC is moving to Step 3 of the BC Energy Step Code, BC Housing has created a Mandatory Training requirement for builders who are renewing their license. Over a 2 year period, builders must prove their competency in the following 8 modules:

  1. BC Energy Step Code Overview and Requirements
  2. Meeting the BC Energy Step Code by Design
  3. Building Science for the BC Energy Step Code
  4. Building Envelope Options for the BC Energy Step Code
  5. Air Barriers for the BC Energy Step Code
  6. Mechanical Systems for the BC Energy Step Code
  7. Building Envelope Quality Assurance and Quality Control
  8. BC Energy Step Code Project Management

Read the BC Energy Step Code Training Overview for full details on the learning objectives of each module.

We are laser-focused on Modules 3,4, and 5: Building Science, Building Envelope Options, and Air Barriers. Not only do these 3 modules meet the Mandatory Training requirements, they also count towards your BC Housing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.

How We Built Our BC-Specific Online Training Course

To make sure we had the right content for BC Builders, we reached out to some of our building science colleagues in BC to review our curriculum and content and give us feedback specific to BCESC, BC markets, and BC building processes. Thanks to our reviewers for their keen eyes and insights:

  1. Richard Kadulski, Trainer and Subject Matter Expert, Architect
  2. Matheus Alfred-Olmedo, Senior Energy Advisor, Capital Home Energy Inc.
  3. Arthur Lo, High Performance Builder, Insightful Healthy Homes Inc.   

And to Les Shuert, Red Seal Carpenter, Contractor and Trainer, Interior B.C. Residential Construction Institute, who did a comprehensive rewrite for us based on comments and feedback from our reviewers as well as his expert knowledge of construction and the BC Energy Step Code. 

Course badge for BC Energy Step Code Modules 3, 4 and 5. This course is offered as an audio course.

BC Energy Step Code Modules 3 4 and 5

Equivalency Exemptions

Note that BC Housing has allowed for equivalent training. To be granted this exemption, you must provide completion certificates for courses that BC Housing has reviewed and determined is equivalent to the eight training modules. This document,  BC Energy Step Code: Past and Current Equivalent Courses provides an overview of courses considered equivalent to the BC Housing modules.

Some courses, like Blue House Energy’s Foundation Program, are eligible for 3 of 8 modules. If you’ve taken our Foundation Program, submit your certificate of completion and then you only need to take training in the modules you haven’t covered.

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