Clarification of our position on natural gas

Long-term plans call for transition to more renewable energy forms, zero emissions buildings

A warmer climate with more frequent extreme events and rainfall in Vancouver will have implications for how much we heat, cool and protect our homes.
September 23 2016 –

We are not banning the use of natural gas, despite claims to the contrary in a misinformed opinion piece in The Province newspaper.

The facts

Earlier this year, City Council adopted the Zero Emissions Building Plan – an action plan that lays out a phased approach to combat and reduce carbon pollution in Vancouver:

  • The plan establishes specific targets and actions to achieve zero emissions in all new buildings by 2030
  • The plan does not focus on retro-fitting buildings
  • Restaurants can continue to cook with natural gas
  • You are not being asked to replace your gas appliances

Renewable City Strategy

The Zero Emissions Building Plan is a product of Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy (RCS), committing Vancouver to derive 100% of its energy from renewable sources before 2050. Vancouver is one of many cities worldwide that have adopted 100% renewable policy strategies to combat climate change.

The three core strategies in the Renewable City Strategy (approved by unanimous City Council vote in fall 2015) include:

  1. Reduce energy use through energy conservation and efficiency programs.
  2. Increase the use of renewable energy (for example biomethane – renewable natural gas). We power City Hall with green gas we purchase from FortisBC.
  3. Increase the supply of renewable energy and support that with new infrastructure.

Phased approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

58% of the energy used in buildings (heat, hot water) comes from natural gas use (with the remainder from electricity); because electricity is green energy, natural gas is responsible for 96% of a typical building’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The phased approach laid out in the Zero Emissions Building Plan aims to reduce emissions from newly permitted buildings by:

  • 70% by 2020
  • 90% by 2025
  • 100% by 2030

In addition to helping to combat climate change, these new building standards will also result in better quality homes that are quieter, healthier, and easier to operate and maintain. 

Zero Emissions Building Plan

The Zero Emissions Building Plan was brought forward after extensive consultation with designers, builders, developers, building operators, and utilities. Consultation will continue as components of the plan are implemented. Stakeholders consulted (see Report to Council) included:

  • BC Hydro (co-funded research and consultation) 
  • FortisBC 
  • Creative Energy 
  • River District Energy
  • Urban Development Institute (collaborated on establishing scope of research work and supported industry consultation to ensure representative voices from the designers, developers, builders, and suppliers for multi-unit residential buildings) 
  • Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association 
  • BC Ministry Responsible for Housing, Building and Safety Standards Branch 
  • BC Ministry of Energy and Mines, Electricity and Alternative Energy Division 
  • Staff from the cities of Richmond, New Westminster, and Surrey 
  • BC Housing and the Homeowners Protection Office 
  • International Building Performance Simulation Association - BC Chapter 
  • Fenestration Association of BC
  • New Buildings Institute (one of the leading U.S. building energy code think tanks) 
  • Pembina Institute 
  • Canadian Passive House Institute 

Cost savings by reducing energy use

As a result of our green building policies there have already been significant cost savings for residents and businesses due to less energy use in buildings. We estimate that, relative to our 2007 baseline, Vancouver’s businesses and residents save $44 million annually in building energy costs thanks to decreasing energy use and reduced buildings emissions.