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Eight B.C. local governments call for greener building standards
Eight local governments have called on the province to consider improving energy efficiency and renewable energy standards for homes and buildings in a letter to the B.C. government.
The communities are partners in the Green Building Leaders project, which unites forward-looking local governments with Pembina's sustainable energy expertise. Together, we have explored energy efficiency and renewable energy regulations that are a step beyond what the provincial government or any local governments in B.C. are currently implementing.
After a year of research, it became clear that one of the major stumbling blocks for local governments that want to improve building standards is that they have limited jurisdiction to regulate new and existing buildings. The Green Building Leader partners believe there is room to go beyond the existing province-wide regulations on new and existing buildings.
With that in mind, Pembina supported eight local governments in writing a letter urging the provincial government to explore and, if feasible, implement improvements in the follow areas:
- Setting higher energy efficiency standards for new homes and buildings, beyond the planned changes to the B.C. building code.
- Requiring existing homes and buildings to meet minimum energy performance standards.
- Requiring that some portion of the energy needs for new homes and buildings be met by renewable energy that is produced on-site or in the community.
The letter also urges the provincial government to:
- Require all homes and buildings to have a rating that clearly communicates how efficiently it uses energy.
• Implement financing tools that make energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions accessible to all British Columbians and B.C. businesses.
These regulations have been used extensively in other jurisdictions; however, Pembina and the Green Building Leaders recognize the need to customize these approaches to the B.C. context. In conjunction with Solar BC and BC Hydro, we are now exploring how to make a renewable energy requirement work in B.C. Dawson Creek and Campbell River were selected as the two leading communities to work with us in-depth on the design of a B.C.-specific renewable energy requirement.
Energy consumption from homes and buildings accounts for approximately 12 per cent of B.C.'s total greenhouse gas emissions, so it's vital to find ways to reduce these emissions for the province to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
By requiring energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades in our homes and buildings, we will take an important step towards addressing climate change. At the same time, we will help support new green jobs across the province and will build homes and buildings that cost less to heat and power. The Green Building Leaders and the Pembina Institute will continue to work toward this goal, and we look forward to working with the provincial government on these opportunities.
The Green Building Leaders that signed on to the letter are: the City of Campbell River, City of North Vancouver, Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Dawson Creek, City of Fort St. John, Regional District of Nanaimo, District of Tofino and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
Josha MacNab is an energy policy expert with the Pembina Institute. She directs the Institute’s work in British Columbia, and is based in Vancouver.