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Healthy and Efficient Homes, Businesses and Institutions

The first community in North America to institute a LEED standard for new construction, the District of Ucluelet requires that all new hotels, condos, multi-family and commercial developments meet or exceed the Official LEED “Silver Standard”.Low-carbon buildings use the minimum amount of energy needed to provide comfort and safety, and tap into renewable energy sources for heating, cooling and power. With good planning, and increasingly with green building experience, low carbon residential, commercial and institutional buildings make economic sense, especially viewed over the long term.

On top of reducing energy and emissions of each unit of floor space, green buildings, for example as defined by green building rating systems such as Built Green™ and LEED®, also reduce water and resource impacts, provide healthier, more productive indoor environments, and support alternative transportation. Green buildings are also more energy and resource-efficient to build, reducing emissions associated with materials and construction.

In BC, building energy efficiency is primarily regulated through the BC Building Code. Recent and upcoming changes are increasing the required energy performance of buildings. As of September 5, 2008, new requirements come into effect for residential, industrial, commercial and institutional buildings. Though energy consumption is the key driver of GHG emissions, at this time the Code does not include explicit emissions requirements.

Local governments have influence over the energy efficiency and emissions of buildings and, through building permit approvals and development planning processes, are key players in the building and development process.  Provincial legislation gives local government significant authority with respect to the establishment of development permit areas.  2008 legislative changes expanded local governments' authority to include the ability to mitigate environmental impacts of new developments and rehabilitation projects by establishing development permit areas for the purposes of promoting energy and water conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Local governments also have at their disposal a range of policies and tools to help facilitate the transformation to low greenhouse gas emitting buildings and developments.

Building emissions are linked to the planning and design of our communities.

Low carbon buildings will tend toward forms that support higher efficiency and lower emissions, especially when considered on a per-occupant basis – for example multi-family residential. They will often also be designed to connect with alternative local energy infrastructure such as district energy systems or renewable energy sources.

“Net zero” energy buildings, requiring no external energy input to operate, have been put forward as a longer term goal. Net zero buildings will become more practical as the building industry advances its knowledge.

Building efficiency, nevertheless, cannot be viewed in isolation from land use and transportation. Commuting by office workers accounts for 30% more energy than the building they work in, according to Environmental Building News [1]. For an average new office building built to code, transportation accounts for more than twice as much energy use as building operation. Location is therefore a critical consideration in overall emissions; poor location can potentially negate the emissions reductions due to green building features.

Building Green's High Performance Buildings Database provides case studies of projects ranging from homes and commercial interiors to large buildings and even whole campuses and neighborhoods.

Community Examples

  • In the Township of Langley, recent residential developments include several Built Green communities – such as Yorkson Village, where all homes are constructed to Built Green Gold standards; Envision Credit Union was also one of the first financial institutions to receive LEED certification.
  • Spallumcheen Encourages all new single family residential development to be highly efficient by requiring buildings to exceed an EnerGuide for Houses (EGH) rating of 75 or meet BuiltGreen silver standards as a condition of each building permit. Outlined in OCP here.
  • City of Nelson: EcoSave Energy Retrofits - an energy retrofits program that offers on-bill financing
  • City of North Vancouver: Energy Efficient Buildings Initiative is guided by the targets adopted through the City’s Official Community Plan and Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP)

  •  [Use the tab above to learn HOW to reduce emissions with this tool.]
[Use the tabs above to learn WHY this sector is important in GHG management and HOW you can reduce emissions in community buildings.]

[1] Green Buildings Inc., The Transportation Energy Intensity of Buildings, Sept 2007, Environmental Building News