Energy- and water-efficient building design

A sustainable city needs homes, offices, and public facilities that meet high standards for energy and water efficiency and choice of materials.

To help developers and designers create these high performing buildings, City staff have developed guidelines for:

  • Passive energy designs
  • Water wise landscapes

Passive design toolkit for large buildings

Passive design is an approach to building design that discourages using mechanical systems for heating, cooling, and lighting.

Instead, you harness naturally occurring phenomena, such as the power of the sun, direction of wind, and other climatic effects to maintain consistent indoor temperatures and comfort.

The benefits of passive design

By leveraging the natural environment, buildings that incorporate passive design can:

  • Help reduce, or even eliminate, energy bills
  • Improve the comfort and quality of the interior environment
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating, cooling, mechanical ventilation, and lighting
  • Reduce the need for mechanical systems, thereby reducing the resources required to manufacture them
  • Make alternative energy systems viable  

The Passive Design Toolkit for Larger Buildings

The City has created a passive design toolkit for developers and designers that addresses the specific needs of Vancouver.

The Toolkit provides best practices for passive design for such elements as:

  • Layout
  • Orientation
  • Insulation
  • Landscaping
  • Ventilation

The toolkit will help designers and developers move toward a new, higher standard of energy efficiency without sacrificing thermal comfort.

Download the toolkit

Water wise landscape guidelines

Water wise landscapes are gardens or outdoor areas that use less water. Any landscape design can be water wise - formal, traditional, or modern.

Vancouver's water wise landscape guidelines provide ideas for a wide range of landscapes (single family homes, multi-unit residences, commercial properties), to help reduce the use of clean, drinkable water for irrigation, while maintaining the quality of our urban landscape.

Why be water wise?

Demand on the city's water supply is increasing, but our supply is not. This creates a water shortage during the summer, when irrigation demands and other activities like car washing are at their highest.

Water wise landscapes help to:

  • Preserve water quality and availability
  • Create healthy ecological environments
  • Increase plant life
  • Reduce the urban heat island effect (urban areas are warmer than rural areas)
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce maintenance efforts and costs
  • Reduce strain on the local infrastructure

What the water wise guidelines include

These guidelines provide practical advice on how to:

  • Create more planted areas
  • Reduce the use of clean drinking water for gardening
  • Create spaces that are sustainable and enjoyable
  • Build it to last

Download the guidelines

Passive Design Toolkit for Larger Buildings

Passive design toolkit for large buildings

The Passive Design Toolkit is for developers and designers of larger buildings who want to use higher standards of energy efficiency without sacrificing thermal comfort.

Get the Toolkit

Passive Design Toolkit

Passive home guidelines

The Passive Design Toolkit for Homes helps you build a home that harnesses the sun, wind, and other elements to maintain consistent room temperatures and comfort, without expensive mechanical systems.

Get the Toolkit