Small commercial new construction program

We’re rethinking energy in BC to help build a healthier future for British Columbians. Our 30BY30 target aims to reduce customers’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent by the year 2030 and one way we’re supporting this is by providing rebates to encourage the construction of high energy performance buildings, built beyond the minimum levels of the BC Building Code (BCBC).

Using the BC Energy Step Code, you can decide on how to achieve the energy efficiency goals of your small commercial new construction project. The rebates will help you save money on construction costs and the energy-efficient building will have lower energy costs and fewer GHG emissions, saving money and ensuring occupant comfort.

Eligibility

  1. The project must be located in a FortisBC natural gas and/or electricity service area, including the municipal utilities of Grand Forks, Penticton, Summerland and Nelson Hydro.
  2. The building permit must be issued on, or after, January 1, 2022.
  3. The program is for the construction of the following:
  4. At least two of the following end uses must use energy supplied by FortisBC:
    • space heating
    • ventilation
    • domestic hot water heating (DHW)
  5. For MURBs and mixed-use MURBs located outside FortisBC’s electricity service area using natural gas to service common areas,** the following conditions must be met for ventilation and DHW, with the intent being to use natural gas as efficiently as possible:
    • Ventilation: the professional engineer of record must provide a description of the ventilation design in natural gas-served areas including strategies to limit heating energy on Appendix A of the application form. This should include:
      • rationale for cubic feet per minute (CFM)/door for corridor ventilation. Corridor adjustment factor must be <10 kWh/m2; if greater, then CFM/door should be reduced; this threshold is based on the formulae per Section 2.5.2 of the City of Vancouver Modelling Guidelines v2.0
      • an explanation of lower temperature set points and other control strategies used where possible to reduce heating load
      • gas-fired units must use condensing technology
    • DHW: the professional engineer of record must provide a description of the DHW design in natural gas-served areas to limit hot water use on appendix A of the application form. This should include:
      • water-efficient showerheads, faucets and other DHW flow rates must be incorporated to reduce hot water use to flow rates lower than BCBC maximums
      • gas-fired boilers must use condensing technology

Review all the terms and conditions.

Program details

The program offers rebates based on the performance levels of the BC Energy Step Code, allowing for innovative solutions to help you achieve whole-building energy performance.

If your project is located in an area that hasn’t yet adopted step code requirements, please contact us to discuss. You can also check online to see if your municipality has implemented the BC Energy Step Code.

This program may be right for you if:

  • Your project is an office, retail, hotel, mixed use or multi-unit residential building.
  • You’re planning to design a building with a better energy performance than the BCBC.
  • You’re planning to implement energy-efficient technologies.
  • The finished indoor area will be no more than 50,000 sq. ft.

If the above doesn’t describe your project, you may want to consider individual high-efficiency product rebates instead.

Available rebates

Step code rebates are based on the square footage of the completed building. Optional rebates for an energy model and airtightness testing are also available. Pre-approval is not required to be eligible for these rebates.

BC Energy Step Code performance target Rebate per sq. ft. of indoor floor area Maximum rebate
Step 2 $1.00/sq. ft. $50,000
Step 3 $1.60/sq. ft. $80,000
Step 4 and higher $2.20/sq. ft. $110,000

Energy model rebate

The energy model rebate can help you with the cost of a detailed engineering analysis of your facility. The rebate is 50 per cent of the cost of the energy model, to a maximum of $5,000.

Airtightness rebate

The airtightness rebate encourages you 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 may be eligible for a rebate equal to 75 per cent of the cost of the airtightness test, to a maximum of $2,500 per test (maximum of two tests).

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 to apply

  1. Review the Small Commercial New Construction Program participant guide and terms and conditions.
  2. Work with an energy advisor or energy modeller to develop a model and assist with airtightness testing.
  3. Once construction has been completed and within six months of building occupancy, email your completed and signed application along with the following supporting documents:
    • a copy of the BC Energy Step Code Part 3 Energy Design Report or Part 9 Energy Compliance Report and EnerGuide® N Report and Label for service organization energy advisors or Energy Model Report
    • as-built drawings of the building
    • energy model invoice or progress draw (optional)
    • air tightness testing results and invoice or progress draw (optional)
    • if applicable, completed professional engineer of record declaration for MURBs (Appendix A on application form)

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 commercialrebates@fortisbc.com.

*MURBS must have at least one commercial FortisBC meter.
**E.g. corridors, amenity spaces and/or first floor retail or office space. Appendix A on the application form must be completed by the professional engineer of record.