Green home building policies

green-homesFamily homes take up three quarters of Vancouver's residential land, and produce about one fifth of the city's greenhouse gas emissions.

To counter this, the City has developed the Green Homes Program.

About the Green Homes Program

Under the Green Homes Program, new one- and two-family homes are required to include a number of sustainable features that will help you save energy, water, and money, while providing an improved indoor environment.

Houses are also required to be adaptable to future energy generation technologies as they become available, as well as power the next generation of cars.

By 2020, all new homes will consume up to 33% less energy. By 2030, all new homes will be carbon neutral. 

13 ways to design your new home to be energy efficient

Did you know dual-flush toilets are required in new homes under the Green Homes Program in Vancouver? Click or tap a red button in any room of this interactive house to learn more about the requirements of this program:

Basement walls

Full-height basement walls need to have the same level of insulation as exterior walls.

This requirement is most easily met through the use of high-density batt insulation, similar to that for above-ground walls.

This step increases the usable space inside our houses, while reducing space-heating needs.

Efficient lighting

Light fixtures in areas like hallways, garages, and porches must use energy efficient light bulbs like compact flourescents or light-emitting diodes.

These bulbs do not draw a lot of power, and help reduce energy consumption.

In-home energy display

It is now required to install an indoor electricity usage display meter in your home.

These meters let you know how your actions (such as leaving the TV on overnight) affect your power usage, empowering you to change your electricity use habits.

Exterior walls

Better-insulated exterior walls help keep homes warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Exterior above-ground walls must now have a higher minimum insulation standard. This requirement can be met by using 2x6 wall construction and high-density batt insulation.

Gas fireplace efficiency

The average fireplace is inefficient in generating heat, and can cause heat loss even when you are not using it.

To improve your gas fireplace’s efficiency, it should use an electronic ignition and should be direct-vented.

Domestic hot water supply efficiency

A large part of your home's energy consumption is tied to your hot water tank. Heat constantly escapes from the tank and the pipes connected to it.

Electrically-powered hot water tanks and pipes must be wrapped in insulation to help limit heat loss.

Under-slab insulation

A minimum standard of R12 insulation needs to be underneath slabs (either in the basement or at grade).

This insulation will help limit heat loss through the floor, and provide a warmer, more comfortable floor to walk on.

Window performance

Windows can leak heat, so window will now need to meet a minimum performance level in order to help reduce energy loss.

Any window that carries the Energy Star™ label meets the new energy efficiency requirements.


Vancouver has some of the best water in the world – so the City of Vancouver is taking action to preserve it.

The Green Homes Program requires us to use approved dual-flush toilets, or high efficiency single-flush toilets in all new homes to reduce our water consumption.

Car charger

Car manufacturers are developing plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles that take advantage of our comparatively low-cost (and clean!) electricity supply.

The Green Homes Program requires that new homes have a cable raceway that runs from the building’s electricity panel directly to the garage, to an empty outlet box.

This little bit of infrastructure will make the future installation of an electric vehicle charging system a snap.

Pre piping

When we build new homes, we want to equip them with the infrastructure they need to take advantage of new technology – such as solar energy generation.

Every new house should be equipped with two 50 mm pipes that run from the home’s service room (where the water tank is) to the attic.

This will allow for the future installation of roof-mounted solar energy generating equipment without needing to tear open walls and ceilings.


To ensure that all houses are provided with a constant supply of fresh air, the Green Homes Program requires that a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) be installed in all new homes.

An HRV operates continuously, pulling in fresh outside air while at the same time exhausting stale indoor air.

The HRV is able to transfer the heat from the warm indoor air to the incoming fresh air, reducing heating requirements for the house.

Solar panels

A residential solar panel system collects the sun’s energy and converts it to electricity.

Technology improvements over the past decade have enabled easier installations, lighter panels, and more cost effective solutions.

Learn more

Start building and renovating your green home

Energy-efficiency requirements and resources for new homes

All homes must be designed for energy efficiency. Learn how to comply with the Vancouver Building Bylaw for your new home up to 6 storeys.

Permits and regulations

Permits and regulations for building and renovating play an important role in supporting life safety and neighbourhood compatibility. Learn more here.

Energy requirements for single family home renovations

Learn about the energy requirements for single family home renovations.

Vancouver Building Bylaw

Updates to the current Vancouver Building Bylaw are provided on an ongoing basis. Make sure you have printed the current amendments to update your printed version of the VBBL2014. If you have an electronic version all amendments once enacted are merged with the electronic version on the effective date.

Application forms and checklists

View and download the application forms or checklists for projects which will require a development permit, building permit, or development-building (combined permit).

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about building and zoning


Location and mailing address
Development and Building Services Centre
Ground floor
515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Energy requirements for single family home renovationsEnergy-efficiency requirements and resources for new homes