Vancouver looks to boost energy-efficiency standards

Vancouver looks to boost energy-efficiency standards

Green buildings like this one under construction in Vancouver will, under proposed city regulations, have such features as increased insulation and air tightness. Photo courtesy of The Province

The city of Vancouver plans to boost green building requirements for new residential buildings under seven stories, including “exceptionally large” single-family homes.

The energy efficiency measures, which would kick in March 1, 2018, if approved by the city council, would cut greenhouse gas emissions from the affected buildings by 40 to 55 percent, according to a city report.

The measures include requirements for increased insulation and air tightness, and the use of improved windows, heat-recovery ventilators and more efficient equipment, reports The Province of Canada.

The additional green measures would increase building costs by an average of $3.50 per square foot, according to the city.

Sean Pander, a green building manager with the city, said housing affordability is “of critical importance” and suggested any additional construction costs brought on by the policy change would unlikely to be passed on to the buyers of new homes. 

“Our understanding of how the market behaves is sale price is not related to the cost of producing a good or service. Sale price relates to what the market is willing to pay for it,” Pander said. 

Meanwhile, staff project the regulations would reduce energy costs by about $9 per month for an average condo. So even if someone did have to take out a slightly higher mortgage to cover increased construction costs, “the utility savings — the cost savings — are even greater than that incremental cost. So the homeowner or the renter … would save money from the day they move in,” Pander said.

The city’s green policies already have similar regulations in place for smaller one- and two-family buildings, said Chris Higgins, a green building planner with the city. 

Under the new regulations, new homes any larger than 325 square meters would need to limit their emissions to that of a 325-square-metre home.

“The larger the home above this threshold, the greater leadership in improved design, better building envelopes, and improved equipment that will be required to comply with the carbon pollution cap,” the staff report said.

Residents would still be free to choose what type of fuel they use in their homes, Higgins said.

The city consulted last year with stakeholders that include the Architectural Institute of B.C., the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders Association, Landlord B.C. and the Urban Development Institute, Higgins said.

Last summer, city council members approved a green building plan with a goal of reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions in all newly permitted buildings by 2030.

Topics: Architectural Firms, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Energy Recovery & Heat Recovery Ventilation, Energy Saving Products, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Sustainable Communities, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation, Windows - Glass and Glazing Strategies and Systems

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