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Zero Emissions Building Catalyst Policy is Step Forward for Vancouver

A green building under construction in Vancouver. Photo: Stephen Hui/Pembina Institute

A green building under construction in Vancouver. Photo: Stephen Hui/Pembina Institute

Vancouver, B.C.’s Zero Emissions Building Catalyst Policy constitutes a key step in implementing the City’s ambitious Zero Emissions Building Plan. This policy will support industry leaders who are working toward meeting the City’s goal of realizing a new generation of high-quality buildings that are also low-carbon.

Passive House and International Living Futures Institute (ILFI) Zero Energy are internationally recognized standards for energy-efficient buildings — offering quality control and training programs to prepare industry to deliver high-performance, low-carbon buildings. They are increasingly being pursued in new buildings, both public and private, throughout Vancouver, but regulatory and cost barriers still limit their adoption across the sector.

Based on a review of successful policies in other jurisdictions and input from local industry stakeholders, we know that selective relaxation of inhibiting regulations and increases in floor area are effective tools to support uptake of these standards.

Multi-unit residential and mixed-use buildings constructed to Passive House and ILFI Zero Energy standards use very little energy and are affordable to heat and operate. They offer moderated indoor temperatures, high indoor air quality and soundproofing, and increased durability. We are seeing examples of these buildings being constructed in the city today; this demonstrates that the requirements for homes and buildings under the Zero Emissions Building Plan are achievable.

The Zero Emission Buildings Centre of Excellence allows for the dissemination of knowledge and lessons learned during the implementation of this policy, reinforcing Vancouver’s efforts and serving as an important resource for other jurisdictions.

The Zero Emissions Building Plan has positioned Vancouver as the first city in North America with a roadmap for eliminating carbon pollution from new homes and buildings by 2030, and the Zero Emissions Building Catalyst Policy is an important step in its implementation.

By Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze

Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze is director of the Buildings and Urban Solutions Program at the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading clean energy think-tank. He lives in Vancouver.

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