Read about Metro Vancouver’s current climate action projects related to Buildings, search for technical data, and explore best practices from our region. You can also browse our management plans and policies, and find links to what other cities, provinces and countries are doing to address climate change.

About This Priority

Buildings generate greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels (primarily natural gas), for space and water heating. Emissions from buildings are significant, accounting for approximately one quarter of all regional greenhouse gas emissions.

Buildings are long-lived assets (50 years or more) so energy and carbon intensity requirements and programs for buildings will have a long-term impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate 2050: Buildings

Both existing technologies and new ideas will reduce GHG emissions from buildings (which burn fossil fuels for space and water heating) – currently the second largest GHG source in our region.

Download a full description of this priority.


Anticipated Impacts

  • Hotter summers will increase the need for cooling in homes and offices.
  • Cooling systems will increase energy demand, placing stress on the province’s energy infrastructure and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More wildfire events will increase the need for indoor refuge areas and costly air filtration systems.
  • Energy efficiency and passive design will become increasingly important in buildings, and the business case to build and retrofit to high efficiency standards will improve.

Featured Story: Passive House Standard

The City of Vancouver has adopted the Passive House standard, which cuts a building's energy consumption by up to 90%. The Passive House standard and the BC Building Code were put to the test in an Ice Box Challenge. See which one came out on top.

 

Opportunities

Local governments can reduce emissions from new residential and commercial buildings through building code and development policy that encourages more energy efficient design and the use of low carbon energy.

Improving energy efficiency and switching to low carbon energy systems (e.g., district energy, electric heat pumps, solar, renewable natural gas) can reduce greenhouse gases from buildings. Trees can be used to reduce the energy required to heat and cool buildings.

Actions taken today to reduce building GHG emissions will have a long-term impact because buildings are long-lived assets; many that exist today will still be here in 2050.

Governments, utilities, and building owners need to consider how climate change will impact building design and energy use, and in response, modify policy and planning for energy demand, and building management. Increased risk of flooding due to climate change needs to be considered in the design and siting of new buildings and the retrofit of existing buildings

Local governments can influence building energy efficiency and the use of low carbon energy systems by adopting the BC Energy Step Code. They can also deliver programs that encourage building and home owners to improve energy efficiency and switch to low carbon energy sources.

"When we talk about policies, like the Step Code, we need to talk about benefits for residents; buildings that are energy efficient are also comfortable and have good air quality due to good heat exchange; it’s about framing the policy lens towards individuals."
-- Municipal Staff forum, June 26, 2018

Local government policy and industry leadership has resulted in several buildings in the region achieving net zero certification, meaning these buildings produce as much energy as they use.

 

Learn More About Climate Change

Climate change is already affecting our planet and our region in profound ways, making our summers hotter and drier, our winters warmer and wetter, and increasing the occurrence of extreme weather events.

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