Demonstration projects to make existing homes safer, more energy-efficient, less polluting

Pembina Institute joins BC Housing, Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation, City of Vancouver, BC Non-Profit Housing Association to issue request for proposals

May 26, 2021
Media Release
Worker on scaffolding retrofitting multifamily house

Next-generation retrofit solutions integrate energy efficiency with climate and seismic resilience, while dramatically reducing the buildings’ carbon pollution. Photo: Roberta Franchuk, Pembina Institute

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's design and construction community has a chance to contribute to next-generation housing retrofit solutions to make homes safer, more energy-efficient and less polluting, while reducing heating costs for residents. 

The Pembina Institute, in partnership with the province through BC Housing, Metro Vancouver Housing, the City of Vancouver, and the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, is issuing requests for proposals for design teams to participate in the collaborative retrofit design initiative, called the Reframed Lab.

BC Housing RFP is available here; The Metro Vancouver RFP will follow.

The initiative will include retrofit demonstration projects on multi-unit residential buildings in Kamloops, Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Victoria, and Vancouver.

The lab invites innovators from all areas of the construction sector, including architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, to collaborate on creative approaches to integrated retrofit bundles for existing buildings. Selected teams will be invited to join a six-month exploration lab to learn from experts, share ideas and draw on peer insights.

Teams will create solutions for their assigned building with support from experts on climate change, energy and health that show next-generation retrofit solutions integrating energy efficiency with climate and seismic resilience, while dramatically reducing the buildings’ carbon pollution.

While the BC Building Code and Energy Step Code chart pathways for new homes in B.C. to be built with high energy performance standards, applicable requirements for existing buildings are not consistently enforced and exclude low-rise residential buildings. CleanBC commits the province to develop new regulations by 2024.

Building retrofits use local labour and resources, creating good, long-term jobs for people in the province and supporting growth of B.C.’s sustainable economy.

BC Housing is supporting the initiative with funding from the Capital Renewal Fund, a 10-year, $1.1-billion investment committed to preserve and improve B.C.’s 51,000 units of social housing. Metro Vancouver is leveraging its capital reserve funds to maximize benefits for the people living in the retrofit buildings.

This initiative has received $460,000 from the province’s CleanBC Building Innovation (CBBI) Fund. The CBBI Fund has provided $1.65 million to manufacturers, developers, builders and researchers for accelerating availability and affordability of highly efficient, advanced building designs, construction methods and technologies with minimal greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime.

The City of Vancouver will be providing technical and regulatory guidance to help support this work, which helps advance the city’s climate goals and housing affordability. The cities of Kamloops, Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver, and Victoria are also all providing regulatory support to facilitate projects in their communities.


"We're working together to build more comfortable and energy efficient homes for people. Finding innovative ways to retrofit housing will reduce carbon emissions and cut energy costs. Through CleanBC, these investments support people where they live, advance our climate plan and create many new, clean jobs in local communities across British Columbia."
— George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

“We are pleased to partner with leaders in affordable housing to launch the Reframed Lab, which will give the region’s bustling construction sector opportunities to develop, test and upscale building retrofit solutions that fit our local context. Buildings are a leading source of carbon emissions in the region, and being able to retrofit existing sites in ways that are faster, cheaper and less disruptive will help us achieve the ambitious environmental and social equity targets of Climate 2050 and our Housing 10 Year Plan.”
Sav Dhaliwal, Metro Vancouver Board Chair, Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation

“This opportunity to partner with the Reframe Lab is a positive step to retrofit existing multi-unit residential buildings in Vancouver and BC. We’re pleased to support this project, which advances our climate goals, supports housing affordability by focusing on retrofits that protect and improve existing building, increases comfort for residents, and strengthens our green economy. It also aligns with our climate goals to reduce emissions from buildings by 50% by 2030, as buildings produce nearly 60% of Vancouver’s carbon pollution.”
— Kennedy Stewart, Mayor, City of Vancouver

“This much-welcomed initiative breaks new ground in the shift to deep comprehensive energy retrofits in the non-profit housing sector. We are pleased to be part of a program that will help extend the life of aging building stock, improve tenant comfort and reduce the non-profit sector’s carbon footprint. Retrofitting older buildings protects the affordable housing we already have, and the lessons in integrating climate resilience with energy efficiency will be valuable to share to the entire sector for even greater impact.”
Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association

“We need to transform the renovation of residential buildings in order to eliminate carbon pollution from housing operations while protecting critical affordable housing and keeping the tenants safe and healthy. Working together, we will shift the retrofit ecosystem and open the door to healthier, safer, low-carbon homes.”
— Karen Tam Wu, B.C. director, Pembina Institute

Learn more

Find out more about the Reframed Lab


Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing
Media Relations
778 678-1572

BC Housing
Media Relations

City of Vancouver
Media Relations

Metro Vancouver Housing
Media Relations

Media Relations

Pembina Institute


Report: Aggregation of energy retrofits in affordable housing
Blog: For health, climate and jobs, Canada needs a major housing investment

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