Friday, November 4, 2016

Vancouver is leading the way towards zero emission buildings

Vancouver's Zero Emissions Building Plan, approved by City Council in July, is to fundamentally shift building practice in Vancouver within next 10-15 years. The Plan includes detailed actions to ensure the majority of new buildings in Vancouver use 100% renewable energy and have no operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and that all new buildings achieve these outcomes by 2030.
The four strategies of the Plan envisage:
- establishing GHG and thermal energy limits by building type and and gradually reduce them over time to zero
- leading by example: the Plan requires City-owned and City managed building projects to demonstrate zero emission building approaches where viable
- developing tools to catalyse private builders and developers to demonstrate effective approaches to zero emission new buildings
- capacity building through establishing a Centre of Zero Emission Building Excellence to facilitate the removal of barriers, the sharing of knowledge, and the development of necessary skills.
Builders in Vancouver have already incorporated a near-zero emissions approach to their projects, including, the Passive House standard, the leading standard for energy efficient buildings.  According to Pembina Institute, the six-storey, 85-unit, market-rental residential building on Vancouver's East Hastings Street (see the photo below) will be Canada’s largest building certified as achieving the Passive House standard.

Sixty seven large condominium, apartment, and commercial buildings representing over 850 thousand square meters of new development are under construction or have been built to achieve LEED  Gold certification.
Important factor that will enable Vancouver to achieve challenging targets is that electricity in the Province of British Columbia (BC) is legislated to be at least 93% renewable and currently 97% of electricity is provided from renewable sources.
The increased production of renewable electricity in BC combined with  City of Vancouver & energy utility programs to support and incentivise energy conservation have reduced GHG emissions from existing buildings and industry by 20% as compared to 2007.  Emissions from newly constructed buildings have been reduced by 48% in comparison to 2007.