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Energy requirements, forms, and checklists for large and retail / commercial buildings

Background on the City's energy requirements

As part of the City's Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, we require all new larger buildings – specifically, buildings classified in the Vancouver Building Bylaw as Part 3 and Part 9 non-residential buildings – to be designed to strict energy standards. Energy reduction targets for new buildings are 20% below 2007 levels by 2020, and “carbon neutral” by 2030.

The City also introduced Canada’s first energy code/bylaw for existing larger buildings classified as Part 3 and Part 9 non-residential. The new bylaw requirements were added to the existing upgrade mechanism process used in Part 11 for Life Safety, Structural, and Accessibility. Our 2020 energy reduction target for existing larger buildings is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 2007 levels.

In addition, some areas of the City have been designated for the establishment of neighbourhood energy systems that supply thermal energy for heating, hot water, and in some cases cooling. These areas have specific thermal requirements for buildings to connect and use neighbourhood energy services.

Starting December 18, 2014, the 2014 City of Vancouver Building and Plumbing Systems Bylaws are available online from the Queen's Printer.

Until the entire 2014 VBBL is available in print, keep current on its changes and additional requirements by reading these documents in tandem with the 2012 BCBC:

All projects

Building types, sizes, and classifications

The ASHRAE 90.1 standard and NECB code are not used for 1 and 2 family dwellings, or residential buildings of three storeys or less. With the exception of Passive House projects, all other building types and sizes are required to use either ASHRAE 90.1 or NECB, including any low-rise buildings that have a non-residential component.

Energy statements on drawings

For ASHRAE 90.1 or NECB projects, starting January 1, 2015, new construction and renovation drawing sets must include the energy criteria used in the project design.

Energy statements must follow the methodology outlined in the appropriate building energy design tool – see the section “Tools and reference materials” below.

Certified Professionals (CP) projects

Official application date: The official building permit application date of a CP application is the accepted application date for Stage 1 only.

Energy checklist submission: You are required to submit either the 90.1 or NECB energy checklist on a staged project at the full construction application stage only.

Rezoning projects (Rz): energy and LEED conditions

Rezoning projects must meet the project-specific rezoning conditions listed in the “Prior To” letter approved by the Development Permit Board or the Director of Planning.

The applicable energy and LEED conditions for your project depend on the date of your rezoning project application.

Green Buildings Policy for rezoning projects

2017 Rezoning Policies

The 2017 Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings contains two pathways to meet the performance limits: the Envelope path, and the Low-Carbon Energy Systems path.

For projects pursuing the Low-Carbon Energy Systems path, please refer to the following policy.

For all 2017 Rezoning projects, the energy models must be in accordance with the modelling guidelines, and energy model submissions must include a completed ZEBP energy checklist.

2014 Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings (effective June 25, 2014)

On June 25, 2014, the City updated its Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings to increase energy performance expectations and to better align with the neighbourhood energy objectives and requirements.

2010 Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings (effective January 31, 2011 to June 24, 2014)

In addition to LEED and energy conditions, rezoning projects within neighbourhood energy areas must immediately tie into existing neighbourhood energy systems.

2014 General Policy for Higher Buildings

On June 25, 2014, the City updated its General Policy for Higher Buildings to increase energy performance expectations and to better align with the neighbourhood energy objectives and requirements.

City of Vancouver Neighbourhood Energy Interpretation Guide for Rezonings

For projects subject to either the General Policy for Higher Building or the 2010 Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings, and required to tie into the South East False Creek or North East False Creek neighbourhood energy systems, use this guide to help you meet the requirements:

LEED Projects

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) ventilation requirements

Ventilation requirements for LEED certification differ from code and bylaw ventilation requirements. In some building uses the ventilation requirements of the VBBL will dictate, while in other uses or circumstances the LEED requirements will dictate. Installation and distribution requirements also need to be considered to ensure compliance with the VBBL and LEED certification requirements.

The following credit interpretation requests (CIRs) have been published with the written permission of the CaGBC.

CaGBC district energy guidelines

Projects connecting to neighbourhood energy systems and pursuing LEED certification need to be aware of the CaGBC guideline “LEED Canada 2009 Interpretation Guide for District Energy Systems”.

Projects within neighbourhood energy areas (formerly district energy)

Is your project within a neighbourhood energy area?

If yes, design your project according to the area's guidelines.

If your project is tying into a neighbourhood energy system, either as a City requirement or voluntarily, see the section "City of Vancouver Neighbourhood Energy Interpretation Guide for Rezonings" above.

If your project is pursuing LEED certification, whether as a City requirement or voluntarily, see the section "LEED Projects" above.

New construction, additions, and reconstruction

Design all new construction, additions, and reconstruction to the latest energy standard and complete the energy checklist of the standard used.

Starting January 1, 2015, all additions and reconstruction must also comply with the 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw's Part 11, existing building energy upgrade mechanism requirements. Refer to the Part 11 (Existing Buildings) section below.

Passive House projects

Building designs using the Passive House standard are accepted by the City of Vancouver. The Passive House standard is being recognized as an alternate compliance path for some requirements within the 2014 Building Bylaw. For information on our requirements and processes for projects pursuing Passive House certification, refer to the Passive House webpage.

Multi-unit Residential (MURBs) of 1-6 storeys

Effective March 1, 2018, the City of Vancouver implemented the 2017 Building Bylaw amendments pertaining to multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) by requiring designs for new construction to meet or exceed specific prescriptive and performance requirements  (208 KB) that affect building energy performance. The 2017 Building Bylaw amendments are meant to harmonize the requirements across three categories of residential buildings, specifically, 1 and 2 Family Dwelling, MURBs (1-3 storeys), and MURBs (4-6 storeys).

These requirements are for fully residential use only and do not apply to mixed use buildings. MURBs (4-6 storeys) must still meet ASHRAE/NECB energy requirements. An energy checklist specific to MURBs (4-6 storeys) has been made available below. For more details on the MURB (1-6 storey) requirements, access the webpage via the following link.

Tenant improvements (TI)

Tenant improvements are required to comply with the energy requirements of the Vancouver Building Bylaw. To learn about the requirements and processes, and get links to important information and required documentation:

Starting January 1, 2015, all TIs must comply with Part 11 of the 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw including the energy upgrade mechanism requirements, unless the base building already complies with ASHRAE 90.1-2007 requirements or other possible exemptions. See the section "Part 11 (Existing Buildings)" below.

First TI (new construction TI)

Tenant improvements within a space not previously occupied are considered an extension of the original new construction and are to be treated like new construction. The scope of work must comply with the relevant sections within the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 energy standard. First TI projects must complete and submit the following checklist with their building permit applications:

Part 11 TI

Tenant improvements within a space previously occupied are considered alterations to existing buildings and therefore classified Part 11 TIs. The scope of work for a Part 11 TI must comply with the “Alterations” portion within each relevant section of the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 energy standard and the Energy Upgrade Mechanism within the VBBL's Part 11. Effective January 1, 2015, Part 11 TI projects (except residential suites - see below) must complete and submit the following checklist with their building permit applications:

Alterations to residential suites must complete and submit the following checklist with their building permit applications:

Envelope retrofit

Any tenant improvements undergoing a building envelope retrofit or upgrade, where the energy performance of the resulting envelope is not obviously an improvement over the original envelope performance, will use the Building Envelope Energy Performance Comparison Calculator to confirm the building’s overall envelope performance has not worsened. See the calculator in the section "Tools and reference materials" below.

ASHRAE 90.1-2010

Building permit applications using ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 must be in compliance with the following conditions:

  • Applicability: May be used on any building, excluding:
    • Residential buildings of 3 storeys or less (regardless of size)
    • Temporary buildings
  • Exclude 5.5.4.5 Fenestration Orientation from Section 5 Building Envelope (June 27, 2016 amendment)
  • Exclude 8.4.2 Automatic Receptacle Control from Section 8 Power (per Bulletin 2015-001-BU)
  • Vancouver is to be considered within climate zone 5
  • Ventilation must comply with ASHRAE 62-2001 (except addendum n)
  • Projects over 3,000 gross square feet must have vestibules at all doors used as building entrances. (For exact requirements and exceptions, see 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw Div B, 10.2.1.1.7)
  • BE Trade-Off Method (COMcheck users): Starting February 2014, COMcheck software offers a dozen BC weather station locations. Vancouver projects are to choose the "Vancouver" location option.
  • Exempt assemblies (starting August 1, 2016): Modelers are to follow requirements of Table 11.3.1.5.a. using 2% in place of the 5% indicated.

ASHRAE 90.1-2007

The 2007 version of the ASHRAE 90.1 energy standard is referenced within the 2007 Vancouver Building Bylaw. Building permit applications using this standard will no longer be accepted starting January 21, 2014.

All designs using ASHRAE 90.1-2007 must be in compliance with the following conditions:

  • Applicability: May be used on any building, excluding:
    • Residential buildings of 3 storeys or less (regardless of size)
    • Temporary buildings
  • Vancouver is to be considered within climate zone 5
  • Ventilation must comply with ASHRAE 62-2001 (except addendum n)
  • Projects over 3,000 gross square feet must have vestibules at all doors used as building entrances. (For exact requirements and exceptions, see 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw Div B, 10.2.1.1.7)

NECB 2011

 Neither the CanQuest modeling software nor the NECB Checklist are compatible with Mac OS software.

Building permit applications using the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) 2011 must be in compliance with the following conditions:

  • Applicability: Part 3 buildings, new construction only
  • Vancouver is to be considered within climate zone 4
  • Ventilation must comply with ASHRAE 62-2001 (except addendum n)
  • Projects over 3,000 gross square feet must have vestibules at all doors used as building entrances. (For exact requirements and exceptions, see 2014 Vancouver Building Bylaw Div B, 10.2.1.1.7)
  • For projects with glazing and skylight ratios below Prescriptive maximums (40% and 5%, respectively), ensure that window-wall and skylight-roof ratios of the reference building are identical to the ratios of the proposed building
  • Vertical glazing Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), Assembly Maximum = 0.40
  • Skylight SHGC without Curb, or with Curb and Glass:
    • % of Roof: 0% – 2.0%, Assembly Maximum SHGC (all) = 0.49
    • % of Roof: 2.1% – 5.0%, Assembly Maximum SHGC (all) = 0.39
  • Skylight SHGC with Curb and Plastic:
    • % of Roof: 0% – 2.0%, Assembly Maximum SHGC (all) = 0.77
    • % of Roof: 2.1% – 5.0%, Assembly Maximum SHGC (all) = 0.62

Additional energy requirements (starting January 1, 2015)

Part 10 includes additional energy requirements outside the scope of the energy standards, such as:

  • Vancouver buildings must be metered so as to determine their individual energy performance.

Archive drawings available as PDF

Effective March 24, 2014, the City of Vancouver is offering to applicants the option to receive copies of archive drawings of existing buildings in PDF format.

Energy Upgrade Mechanism

The existing building energy upgrade mechanism process was implemented effective January 1, 2015. The requirements apply to all building permit applications of the following categories:

  • Rehabilitation/TIs (repairs, minor and major renovations, reconstruction)
  • Additions (vertical and horizontal)
  • Change of major occupancy classifications

Preview of 2014 VBBL Part 11 (Energy Upgrade Mechanism)

The following documents provide a simplified view of the Part 11 energy upgrade mechanism process implemented on January 1, 2015. Part 11 and the associated Appendix A can be seen starting on pages 226 and 260, respectively, within the document adopted on April 1, 2014:

Energy checklist training videos

Our training videos help applicants, designers, and installers understand and complete the energy documentation and process. (As we expand our videos, review the videos in the category Energy Checklist for Alterations to Existing Buildings to assist with the checklist in other categories.)

Energy checklists

ASHRAE 90.1-2010

For new construction projects, use the following tools and checklists:

For alterations projects, use the following tools and checklists:

ASHRAE 90.1-2007

For new construction projects, use the following tools and checklists:

NECB 2011

For new construction projects, use the following tools and checklists:

Energy statements on drawings

The energy statements are to follow the methodology outlined in the appropriate building energy design statement tool below.

Envelope upgrade – energy performance comparison

For buildings undergoing an envelope upgrade, we require you to either maintain or improve your building's envelope performance. If you are unsure, use this calculator to confirm compliance: