Commercial new construction performance program

We’re rethinking how we use energy and lower our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions, including encouraging the design and construction of buildings for energy performance beyond the minimum levels required by the BC Building Code. Using the BC Energy Step Code, you can decide how to achieve the energy efficiency goals of your project while saving costs, reducing energy use and emissions and increasing occupant comfort.

Eligibility

  1. The project must be located in a FortisBC natural gas and/or electricity service area, including municipal utilities of Grand Forks, Penticton, Summerland and Nelson Hydro.
  2. The program is for the construction of new Part 3 commercial buildings.
  3. The project must be in the pre-construction phase when applying to the program.
  4. If the project is a multi-unit residential or mixed-use residential/commercial building and natural gas will only be used for domestic hot water and ventilation in corridors, amenity rooms and/or retail/office spaces, but NOT in-suite ventilation, the following conditions must be met for using natural gas efficiently:

    • Ventilation:
      • The mechanical engineer must provide a description of the ventilation design in natural gas-served areas and explain how heating energy will be reduced, including rationale for CFM (cubic feet/minute) per door for corridor ventilation2 and control strategies such as lower temperature set points.
      • Gas-fired equipment must use condensing technology.
    • Domestic hot water:
      • Water-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators must be incorporated to reduce hot water use relative to building code maximum flow rates.
      • Boilers must also use condensing technology.

    For other projects, contact your FortisBC account manager or technical advisor to determine eligibility.

Review all the terms and conditions.

Program details

The program offers capital incentives based on the performance levels of the BC Energy Step Code, allowing for innovative solutions to help you achieve whole-building energy performance. Additional rebates are available for having an energy model study and for mid- and post-construction airtightness testing.

If your project is located in an area that hasn’t yet adopted Step Code requirements, your building may still be eligible to participate. Check online if your municipality has implemented Step Code.

This program may be right for you if:

  • Your project is commercial, institutional, multi-unit residential or light industrial.
  • You are planning to design a building with a better energy performance than required by the BC Building Code.
  • You are planning to implement energy-efficient technologies.
  • You are considering completing an energy model study to evaluate how your building will perform.

If these do not describe your project, you may want to consider individual high-efficiency product rebates instead.

Capital incentives

This program provides capital financial incentives to cover a portion of the incremental cost to build a higher performing building, compared to a building that simply meets minimum BC Building Code (BCBC) requirements. Capital incentives are based on the target energy performance of the building and the square footage of the indoor floor area. The higher performing the building, the higher the rebate.

Mixed-use buildings must be energy modelled to produce a single total energy use intensity (TEUI) and thermal energy demand intensity (TEDI) for the purpose of the incentive. Select the path appropriate for your building’s energy performance target: 

Path 1: Capital incentives for energy modelling based on the BC Energy Step Code

BC Energy Step Code performance target Incentive factor Maximum rebate
Step 2 $1.00/sq. ft. x indoor floor area (sq. ft.) $500,000 per year
Step 3 $1.60/sq. ft. x sq. ft.
Step 4 and higher $2.20/sq. ft. x sq. ft.

Path 2: Capital incentives for commercial buildings not subject to the BC Energy Step Code

Performance target % better than BC Building Code Incentive factor Maximum rebate
10-20% $1.00/sq. ft. x indoor floor area (sq. ft.) $500,000 per year
20-30% $1.60/sq. ft. x sq. ft.
more than 30% $2.20/sq. ft. x sq. ft.

Energy model rebate

The energy model rebate can help you with the cost of a detailed engineering analysis of your facility. Paid upon completion and approval of the energy study, the rebate is 50 per cent of the cost of the energy model, to a maximum of $15,000.

Airtightness rebate

The airtightness rebate encourages program participants to include airtightness testing during and after construction and feed the results back into the energy model.

For each stage (mid-construction and post-construction test) you'll receive 75 per cent of the cost of the airtightness test, to a maximum of $5,000 per test. (Note: if multiple tests are performed in one stage while an issue is being investigated and remediated, the total cost of all tests can be submitted for reimbursement.)

Requirements:

  • Airtightness tests must be performed according to (BCBC Part 10.2.3.5.): ASTM E 779, “Standard test method for determining air leakage rate by Fan Pressurization,” or USACE Version 3, “Air leakage test protocol for building envelopes.”
  • The mid-construction test should be performed after the air barrier component of the building envelope is installed to help identify any problem areas while they're still accessible.
  • The final test is performed after construction is fully completed and the energy model updated to provide a more accurate understanding of how the building performs.
  • Tests must use an induced air pressure of not less than 75 Pa.
  • Results of airtightness tests must be reported to FortisBC, not just whether it passed or failed requirements.
  • Post-construction airtightness test results must also be entered into the final energy model using the procedure outlined in the City of Vancouver Energy Modelling Guidelines version 2.

How rebates are paid

The rebates are payable in two or more instalments.

1. Energy model review and invoice submission

Once an energy model is reviewed and approved, the first instalment of the capital incentive is paid, which is equal to 10 per cent of the total capital incentive, as verified by the model, to a maximum of $25,000.

For the additional energy model rebate, submit an invoice for the energy model and receive 50 per cent of the cost, up to a maximum of $15,000.

Both of these incentives are paid out at this time.

2. Project completion

The remaining 90 per cent of the capital incentive rebate is paid after the building construction and commissioning is complete, subject to a successful site inspection to confirm that energy conservation measures were installed as described in the energy model.

3. Airtightness testing

If airtightness testing has occurred mid-construction and post-construction, rebates are paid after the results of the test and the invoice or progress draw are submitted to FortisBC for review.

These should be submitted after each stage for an airtightness rebate equivalent to 75 per cent of the cost of each test, up to a maximum of $5,000.

How to apply

  1. Review the Commercial New Construction Performance Participant guide.
  2. Early in the design phase, contact your FortisBC key account manager, energy solutions manager or technical advisor to discuss your project. We’ll then schedule a project kick-off meeting between you, your design team and FortisBC to see if the project is a good candidate for program participation.

We’re here to help

If you have questions, contact your key account manager, energy solutions manager or technical advisor, call 1-866-884-8833 or email customdesign@fortisbc.com.

1 Municipal utilities include Summerland, Penticton, Grand Forks or Nelson Hydro.

2 The corridor adjustment factor must be less than 10 kWh/m2; if it is greater, CFM per door should be reduced. This threshold is based on the formula in section 2.5.2 of the City of Vancouver Modelling Guidelines, version 2.0.