Thermal Imaging program

Greenhouse gas
of emissions come from detached homes.

We launched a thermal imaging pilot program in January to help homeowners identify energy loss in single family homes and to share information on energy saving incentives that are available. We've identified five neighbourhoods  (220 KB) to participate in the pilot. The images will be taken throughout the month of January and staff will follow-up with homeowners later this spring.

What is a thermal image?

A thermal image is a picture of the heat that comes off of an object. Often in a thermal image, when something is hot, the image is bright yellow; if something is cold, it shows up as dark blue.

Thermal imaging is becoming an increasingly popular tool around the world to quickly identify opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades to a home that will also improve comfort and may improve health. 

Discover your home’s energy efficiency potential

In Vancouver, 55% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from buildings, and detached homes account for 31% of all GHG emissions from buildings.

Through the Greenest City Action Plan, we are aiming to reduce emissions from existing buildings by 20% by 2020. This would eliminate 160,000 tonnes of GHGs per year - the equivalent of removing 40,000 cars from the road.

The City of Vancouver in thermal imaging

By City of Vancouver

In this image, red indicates warmer temperatures. Blue and purple are cooler.

  • The City of Vancouver in thermal imaging

    By City of Vancouver

    In this image, red indicates warmer temperatures. Green, blue, and purple represent cooler temperatures, respectively.

  • Thermal imaging for homes

    By City of Vancouver

    This thermal image shows the front of a house. Areas in yellow are warmer than areas in purple.

  • Thermal imaging for homes

    By City of Vancouver

    This thermal image shows a home without insulation. Yellow indicates hotter areas, and purple indicates cooler areas.  

  • Thermal imaging for homes

    By City of Vancouver

    This photo shows a home losing significant heat. Yellow represents warmer temperatures, and purple represents cooler temperatures.

Reaching our Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) targets

A thermal image of a building is a quick, low-detail image that helps easily identify what parts are leaking heat and what parts are well insulated. The information gained from a thermal image can show you what upgrades you can make, while helping reduce Vancouver’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and saving you money.

In order for us to reach our GCAP Green Buildings target we need to reduce our energy use and increase efficiency.

The University of Calgary study found that heat loss from the nearly 38,000 homes thermal imaged cost homeowners $4.9 million a year, and emitted 29,000 tonnes of C02.

Imagine the GHG reductions we could achieve if home owners could easily see the energy efficiency improvements that could be made to their homes!

Global use of thermal imaging for homes

The first use of thermal imaging for homes in Canada was done as part of an award-winning research project at the University of Calgary.

Other cities that have implemented thermal imaging include: 

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
  • Cambridge, Brookline, and Wenham, Massachusetts, USA
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Manchester, Liverpool, and London, England.

The Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) at the University of British Columbia prepared a report prior to the launch of our Thermal Imaging Program. The report identifies best practices, communication, and engagement with homeowners on large-scale thermal imaging. You can view the report here External website

Addressing privacy concerns

We take the privacy concerns of residents very seriously. As you can see from the examples above, thermal imaging shows only the heat. This allows you to see energy leakages in your home, without requiring someone to come in to your home or take detailed pictures.

If you still have concerns, you can opt out by emailing us:

How the program works

We have hired Essess to image five neighbourhoods in Vancouver (220 KB). These neighbourhoods were chosen based on: 

  • Diverse location in the city
  • The majority of homes are owner occupied
  • Diversity of home age

We'll be providing free thermal images to approximately 3,000 homes that have the greatest opportunity for energy savings. These homeowners will also be provided information on incentives offered by companies like BC Hydro and Fortis to encourage them to retrofit their home and potentially save hundreds of dollars annually in heating bills.

In the meantime, if you would like a thermal image of your home, please send us an email, and include your name and address: