City of Vancouver’s Zero Emission Building Retrofit Strategy

In November 2020, Vancouver’s City Council approved a bold new Climate Emergency Action Plan that details how the City will reduce carbon pollution 50% by 2030. Mechanical Contractors will have a key role in reducing carbon pollution by 2030 and MCABC will continue to collaborate with the City of Vancouver and other industry organizations and provincial and local stakeholders to ensure that our members can prepare for and be at the forefront of the changes required to support the City’s goal.

One of the “Big Moves” within the plan is the Zero Emission Building Retrofit Strategy, which is organized around four action areas designed to significantly reduce carbon pollution from the existing building stock. Collectively, these actions are designed to enable building and homeowners to:

  • Significantly reduce their energy waste and improve comfort through eliminating drafts, better windows, insulation, smarter buildings and capturing waste heat;
  • Switch space heating and hot water equipment from fossil fuel natural gas to clean electricity or to use renewable gas.

The full Zero Emission Building Retrofit Strategy, can be found in Appendix J, starting on page 134.

The four core action areas of the Strategy are:

  1. Set carbon pollution limits and streamline regulations.
    • Require annual energy and emissions reporting by building owners starting in 2023.
    • Limit annual carbon pollution from existing large office and retail buildings and detached homes beginning in 2025 and condos beginning in 2030
    • Streamline permitting for energy retrofits and heat pumps, and
    • Review and remove the current energy upgrade requirements so that City processes are not a barrier.

  2. Support Early Owner Action
    • Partner with industry associations, senior government and utility companies to establish a Retrofit Accelerator Centre (RAC) that houses retrofit programs, creates decision-support tools, provides equipment incentives, funds demonstration projects, and facilitates access to innovative financing for the major building types in Vancouver to achieve low-carbon retrofit outcomes. Consultation for the RAC will begin in Spring 2021. The RAC will launch in 2022.

  3. Build Industry Capacity
    • Enable an effective transition away from fossil fuel based heating by providing clarity on future regulations for building owners, contractors, trades and equipment suppliers working in all building sectors;
    • Work with industry, the provincial government and utilities to increase the capacity of trades and to ensure consistent quality for heat pump installations in detached homes through training and installation incentives.

  4. Facilitate Access to Renewable Energy
    • Work in partnership with BC Hydro, FortisBC, and district energy providers, to significantly scale up building electrification, renewable gas use, and other zero emissions heating supply and address connection barriers;
    • Transition the City-owned Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU) to 100% renewable energy by 2030.