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Vancouver takes next step to advance Renewable City Strategy

July 14 2016

Deschner Lane House, the EnerGuide 2014 top laneway house
Photograph by Colin Perry

Zero Emissions Building Plan will eliminate emissions from new buildings by 2030

We will be changing the way energy use in new buildings is regulated to target greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions instead of energy efficiency levels. On July 13, 2016, Vancouver City Council approved the Zero Emissions Building Plan – an action plan that lays out a phased approach to aggressively combat and reduce carbon pollution in Vancouver.

Vancouver is the first major city in North America to establish specific targets and actions to achieve zero emissions in all new buildings by 2030. The phased approach aims to reduce emissions from newly permitted buildings by 70% by 2020 and 90% by 2025.

 "This plan is more than just about reducing our carbon pollution in Vancouver," said Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver City Manager. "This is about building better quality homes for the people who live in Vancouver. It's ambitious yet achievable and will benefit everyone as we work towards our Greenest City, Renewable City, and Healthy City goals."

About 56% of all GHG emissions in Vancouver come from buildings – more than transportation and waste together. This plan mandates that all new building constructed produce little to no GHG emissions by either:

  • Being built to a zero emission standard like the Passive House standard (which essentially reduces energy demand)
  • Connecting to a neighbourhood energy utility (increasing renewable energy supply)

These new recommendations will curb the amount of GHG produced by homes and buildings throughout Vancouver and support our efforts to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

Council's approval also included:

  • Building all future City facilities to a zero emissions standard
  • Developing tools to catalyze private sector leaders to do the same

Zero Emissions Building Centre of Excellence will encourage builders and developers

Staff will also be working with community partners and industry stakeholders to create a Zero Emissions Building Centre of Excellence to build capacity for builders, developers, designers, and home owners to share information and lessons learned. Part of the centre's mandate will be to address barriers faced by ethnic and multicultural builders such as language to ensure everyone is successful.

Building to zero-emission standards isn't just good news for our environment but also for families who live in these spaces. These new changes will mean better quality homes and better quality of life, and are specifically aimed at ensuring new homes are quieter, healthier, and simple to operate and maintain. They're also resilient – so if your power goes out in the middle of winter, your home will stay warm.

This is the first major policy change following our adoption of the Renewable City Strategy last November, committing Vancouver to derive 100% of its energy from renewable sources before 2050.

Read the Zero Emissions Building Plan PDF file (520 KB)

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