Low Carbon New Buildings

Low Carbon New Buildings in Victoria

The energy we use to heat, power and cool our homes and other buildings makes up over half of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these emissions come from using natural gas, which is 17 times more polluting than electricity in British Columbia.

As part of the City’s commitment to climate action, Victoria is one of the first local governments in the province adopt the highest level of British Columbia's Zero Carbon Step Code to limit greenhouse gas emissions in new buildings. Most new buildings must also meet the base code level for energy efficiency set by the BC Energy Step Code. Additionally, residential and commercial developments in Victoria must be equipped for the installation of EV chargers. Learn more about EV Readiness.

What is the Zero Carbon Step Code?

The Zero Carbon Step Code sets a limit on how much greenhouse gas a building can release in a year. This limit depends on how big the building is and how many people use it. 

The Zero Carbon Step Code consists of four levels, each representing different levels of allowable emissions. Once these regulations come into effect, the City of Victoria will mandate the highest level, known as Emissions Level 4: Zero Carbon Performance, for all types of buildings. Achieving this level usually involves relying entirely on electricity for energy use.

Learn more: Zero Carbon Step Code Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code, which came into effect in 2018, can be opted into by local governments as a way for them to require a higher level of energy efficiency in new buildings than what is required in the BC Building Code.

For information and resources on the BC Energy Step Code and the Zero Carbon Step Code, including the implementation guide, costing study, technical webinars and FAQs, visit www.energystepcode.ca.

What is required now?

As of May 1, 2023, all new residential and commercial buildings in Victoria are required to demonstrate compliance with the following BC Energy Step Code steps:

  • Step 3 for single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes and small homes/garden suites (Part 9 buildings)
  • Step 3 for mid-rise/wood-frame residential buildings (Part 3 buildings)
  • Step 2 for high-rise/concrete residential buildings and commercial buildings (Part 3 buildings)

As of November 1, 2023, all new single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes and small homes/garden suites (Part 9 buildings) must demonstrate compliance with the highest level of the BC Zero Carbon Step Code.

Starting July 1, 2024, new requirements will be added to building permit applications for Part 3 buildings as outlined in the tables below. For more information, see the Building and Plumbing Regulation Bylaw Amendment Bylaw (No. 2).

When and how are these requirements going to change?

The adoption of higher steps of the BC Energy Step Code will follow the provincial adoption schedule. The highest step of the Zero Carbon Step Code will be implemented during 2024 for Part 3 buildings by category.

    Part 3

Phases of Adoption

Building permits submitted on or after the following dates must meet the relevant standard below.

 May 1, 2023July 1, 2024November 1, 2024
between 4 and 6 storey
Energy Step 3Zero Carbon Emissions Level 4


over 6 Storey
Energy Step 2 (Base Code) Zero Carbon Emissions Level 4
CommercialEnergy Step 2 (Base Code) Zero Carbon Emissions Level 4


Zero Carbon Step Code Information Session

Low Carbon Electrification and BC Hydro Connections Webinar