Community Consulting | Pembina Institute

Green Building Leaders

Leading the Way to Greener Buildings

house under construction

The Green Building Leaders Project brings together local governments, developers, home-owners, real estate agents, contractors, utilities, environmental organizations and the provincial government to work collaboratively on the design and implementation of new green building policies.

The Green Building Leaders project is an opportunity for leading local governments to develop, test and adopt progressive green building regulations that will help their communities reduce energy use and emissions while setting the stage for broader change in the province.

Current projects:

Home energy labelling

With funding from the Real Estate Foundation and partner communities, the Green Building Leaders are working on mandatory energy labeling.

In 2012, three stakeholder workshops provided feedback on initial program design of labelling for new and existing homes, and we produced a Home Energy Labelling report and webinar.  

Following that work, we recommended that home energy labeling begin with new construction.

In 2013, we developed building bylaw amendments to require energy audits and labelling as part of building permitting. Our report includes FAQs about implementing a home energy labelling program and our fact sheet provides a snapshot overview.

We are continuing our labelling work through engagement with the real estate industry and local governments to advance successful implementation. Let us know if you are interested in exploring a labelling bylaw or learning more about home energy labelling.

Joint letter to the province

In late 2013 and early 2014, partner municipalities and regional districts signed onto a letter asking the provincial government to:

  1. Continue and expand home retrofit rebate and financing programs
  2. Develop a comprehensive suite of opt-in regulations to standardize and expedite green building regulations for local government
  3. Explore home energy labelling
  4. Engage in smart Building Code modernization

Together, these actions would help B.C. lead the way to the greenest building industry in North America. See the Pembina Institute letter with eight local government signatories, and the responses from Minister Bennett and Minister Coleman.

Summary of Green Building Leaders program

Energy workshops

In 2013, we designed Community Energy Workshop materials for citizen engagement on neighbourhood planning and design around land use, energy and quality of life. Based on prior work for the Greenest City Conversations Project at UBC, we produced materials for smaller communities, available for use under a Creative Commons license.

For an overview of the workshop components, see our short introductory workshop presentation from the Harrison Forum. Please contact us if you are interested in using the materials, developing 2D and 3D visualizations for your community, or looking for engagement support around land use, energy and quality of life in your community.

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Renewable Energy Requirement (RER) and financing

Based on research and consultation in 2010 and 2011, the Green Building Leaders project engaged in consultation and design for two policies: 

1) Renewable energy requirements for new homes and buildings.

Working with stakeholders in three partners communities, this project designed and evaluated a policy to implement a minimum renewable energy requirement for new buildings in B.C. We recommended a policy similar to the Merton Rule in the UK, with a performance-based mandate that 10% of a building’s energy be met by building or community-scale renewables such as solar hot water or sewer heat recovery. A renewable energy requirement reduces greenhouse gas emissions, encourages building energy efficiency and improves air quality and local resilience. Read the report.

Dawson Creek successfully advanced a UBCM resolution in 2011 (Resolution B98) calling on the provincial government to explore an opt-in Renewable Energy Requirement regulation with local government. The RER could become one of a suite of green building opt-in regulations, similar to the solar hot water-ready regulation already signed onto by 48 local governments. The suite of opt-in regulations could also include a District-Energy-ready and Electric-Vehicle-ready regulation.

2) Financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This project, developed due to local government interest, assessed various financing programs that facilitate the implementation of building energy efficiency and renewable energy. Working with the provincial ministries, utilities and local governments to advance the best strategies, and with submissions to the provincial government, this project contributed to the provincial on-bill financing pilot.

The BC government is offering on-bill financing in two areas of the province (Vancouver Island and Okanagan-Similkameen) as a pilot.

Submissions to provincial review on Building Code, financing and carbon pricing

Pembina Institute submitted comments on the new energy performance regulations in the BC Building Code, the provincial financing program and carbon pricing. All of these provincial level policies support improved building performance for new and existing buildings, helping local governments reach their climate action targets. 

In April 2013, the BC government passed energy performance amendments to the BC Building Code that will improve single-family residential and multi-family, commercial and other large buildings’ energy performance. These go into effect December 2013 and December 2014.

Background research

In 2008-2009, the Green Building Leaders project worked closely with local government partners to research and consult on three broad policy areas:

  • Energy performance standards for existing buildings
  • Renewable energy requirements for new buildings
  • Higher energy performance standards for new buildings

We produced a series of background reports, including an analysis of local government jurisdictional authority on green buildings.

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