Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan will take key step forward with rezoning policy updatesLetter to Mayor Gregor Robertson on Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings

Publication - Nov. 15, 2016 - By Karen Tam Wu

The Pembina Institute sent the following letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver council regarding proposed updates to the city’s Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings:

November 15, 2016

Delivered via e-mail (

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
V5Y 1V4

Dear Mayor and Council,

RE: Updates to the Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings

We are writing in support of the proposed changes to the Green Buildings Policy for Rezonings as a key step in implementing the city’s ambitious Zero Emissions Building Plan. This policy will enable a new generation of high-quality buildings that are low-emissions. The policy prescribes a simple approach that focuses on the building envelope — an airtight design, super insulation, and good ventilation. As a result, these buildings use very little energy and will be more affordable to heat and operate. Such buildings will have moderated indoor temperatures, high indoor air quality and soundproofing, and are more durable.

The internationally recognized Passive House standard, the leading-edge standard for energy efficient buildings, inspired the changes to the Rezonings policy. Passive House construction is already common in Europe, where new construction in EU member countries must meet net zero energy by 2020. A boom in construction to the standard in Vancouver is already happening, with over 600 units currently in construction around the city that are targeting Passive House certification. We are seeing the future of low carbon buildings already being built today; this demonstrates that the requirements for homes and buildings under the Zero Emissions Plan is achievable, which will make low carbon buildings the norm. It’s also important to note that the green building sector is a major employer in the local clean low carbon economy, and the Zero Emissions Plan will encourage continued growth in this sector.

The Zero Emissions Building Plan positions Vancouver as the first city in North America with a roadmap for eliminating emissions from new homes and buildings by 2030. Vancouver’s leadership demonstrates how to move from ambition to action. This should serve as an important blueprint across Canada as we collectively work to curb emissions to meet our 2030 and 2050 climate goals and stimulate the low carbon economy across the country.

Yours sincerely, 

Karen Tam Wu
Director, Buildings and Urban Solutions Program
Pembina Institute


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