Front entry of environmentally designed home in Vancouver

Green Buildings

Our goal: Lead the world in green building design and construction

The electricity and natural gas that our buildings use generate the majority of Vancouver's greenhouse gas emissions.

We are working to improve the environmental performance of buildings throughout the city.

Read about the:

Clarification of our position on natural gas

We are not banning the use of natural gas, despite claims to the contrary in a misinformed opinion piece in The Province newspaper. Learn more.

Our target: Require all buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations
Our target: Reduce energy use and GHG emissions in existing buildings by 20% over 2007 levels

Progress we've made so far

All buildings
New buildings
All buildings
Hover on data points for more information on that year's performance.
To learn more about this metric, see the 'How We Measure Success' section below.

We’ll continue to use a combination of incentives and regulations to meet our green building targets.

  • 2.1 - Update the retrofit requirement options in Vancouver’s Building By‐Law to further reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 2.2 - Launch a Green Condominium Program and expand the Green Landlord Program.
  • 2.3 - Launch a Home Energy Efficiency Empowerment Program and a Home Energy Technology Program.
  • 2.4 - Require annual energy benchmarking and reporting for large residential and commercial buildings.
  • 2.5 - Launch a program for green industry partners.
  • 2.6 - Develop a zero-emission new buildings strategy.
  • 2.7 - Restructure our Green Building Rezoning Policies to specifically target GHG emission reductions and introduce mandatory GHG emission targets for new buildings.
  • 2.8 - Update minimum energy efficiency requirements for new buildings in the Vancouver Building By-Law.

Our 2015-2016 successes

Recent initiatives that bring us closer to reaching the Green Buildings goal.

Passed by Council in February 2016, the Building Energy Retrofit Fund will support and expand programs that result in energy efficiency upgrades for buildings throughout the city.

What the Fund supports

The Fund will support the Building Energy Retrofit Strategy  (6 MB) (adopted by Council in June 2014), which targets buildings that have the most potential to reduce energy use and emissions.

The initial programs that the Fund aims to support when implemented will result in an estimated 3,000 tCO2e reduction annually.

Passive House

Passive House is a well-established ultra-low energy building performance standard. There are over 40,000 passive house buildings in every climate around the world. 

In 2015, we enabled the certified Passive House standard in new homes in Vancouver by relaxing certain restrictions for homes that committed to the standard.

Passive design

Passive design is based on the simple principle that a thoughtfully designed, better-insulated building can reduce or even eliminate the necessity and costs associated with heating and cooling, while staying comfortable for occupants year-round. 

First certified Passive House in Vancouver

Passive House certified buildings can have up to 90% lower emissions than typical buildings. The first Passive House in Vancouver, completed in early 2016, had heating bills below $20 a month in its first few months of occupancy for a family of four in the middle of winter.

Our city has a diverse population, with new and old residents originating from around the world. Engaging all Vancouverites inclusively around energy conservation requires an understanding of some of the potential barriers, from language to cultural differences and everyday living habits in a new climate. 

In 2015, we began supporting Empower Me , an award-winning energy conservation program for new immigrants and ethnic communities in BC. Empower Me encourages peer learning and actions that:

  • Save energy
  • Reduce energy costs
  • Increase the overall comfort and safety of participants’ homes

Data shows that between 2007 and 2014—over the period our green building policies began to take effect—the greenhouse gas emissions per square metre of newly built floor area decreased by 30% from 2007 levels. 

Get more details about our successes: Read the implementation update for 2015-2016  (8 MB)

Our 2014-2015 successes 

Initiatives that brought us closer to reaching the Green Buildings goal from 2014 to 2015.

Adopted by Council in June 2014, the Energy Retrofit Strategy for Existing Buildings aims to reduce greenhouse gases that result from energy use in buildings that already exist.

The strategy focuses on buildings in four target sectors:

  1. Detached houses
  2. Large multiunit residential buildings (MURBs)
  3. Large commercial
  4. Large industry

On April 1, 2014, Council enacted the 2012 British Columbia Building Code with additional requirements and revisions specific to Vancouver.

The new building bylaw

Developed in consultation with industry professionals, the new bylaw took effect January 1, 2015. The new bylaw:

  • Includes amendments to improve housing for seniors and people with disabilities
  • Supports the greening of Vancouver’s building stock by increasing the requirements for energy efficiency in new buildings, while also requiring buildings undergoing renovations to reduce their energy use

The Rezoning Policy provides an opportunity to improve energy efficiency building-by-building.

In June 2014, the Rezoning Policy was updated to promote connection to future low-carbon neighbourhood energy utilities. The updated policy also recognizes energy efficiency programs, such as:

  • An EnerGuide 84 rating requirement for townhouses and residential buildings of up to four stories
  • The rigorous Passive House standard

The Rezoning Policy exceeds the Vancouver Building By-Law by 22%, meaning that new buildings have to be that much more efficient if they are built on rezoned land.

Get more details about our successes: Read the implementation update for 2014-2015  (2 MB)

We publicly report our greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory to the Carbon Disclosure Project for Cities (CDP for Cities) platform. Free registration to CDP is required to view responses.

This metric is maintained by the Sustainability Group within the City Manager’s Office at the City.

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Initiatives that are helping us reach our goal and targets

Zero Emissions Building Plan

This plan will eliminate emissions from new buildings by 2030 through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and is the next step to advance the Renewable City Strategy.

Building Retrofit Strategy - 2014

Learn how we plan to save Vancouver residents and businesses over $90 million and 160,000 tonnes of GHGs per year by 2020.

Neighbourhood Energy Strategy

The Neighbourhood Energy Strategy will help develop additional neighbourhood energy systems throughout Vancouver.

Zero emissions buildingsBuilding Retrofit Strategy - 2014