Lower Mainland strata councils join the fight against climate change

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      A new front in the war against climate change has opened up in Metro Vancouver.

      The battle is being fought in multifamily residential buildings, and waging it are strata owners, councils, and property managers.

      A pilot program started last year by the Metro Vancouver regional government has put into motion more than 100 projects designed to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

      Bringing the fight against climate change to strata buildings makes sense.

      A background paper for the region’s strata energy adviser pilot program noted that there are more than 7,200 residential strata buildings across the Lower Mainland.

      These structures are occupied by at least 300,000 households. The buildings produce between 600,000 and 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions a year from space and water heating. Those emissions account for four to five percent of the region’s total emissions, based on the Lower Mainland’s total of 14.7 million tonnes in 2015.

      The paper noted that every year, four to 11 percent of strata corporations identify major building-renewal projects, which include “refurbishment or replacement of heating, mechanical and electrical systems, or building envelope upgrades”.

      “These projects present important opportunities to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the document.

      The pilot program involves the provision of professional energy-adviser services to strata councils and property managers.

      An update report about the ongoing trial has been prepared for Metro Vancouver’s climate-action committee, which meets Friday (July 12).

      “The pilot has demonstrated the interest in and potential GHG reduction benefits of such a program,” Jason Emmert and Erik Blair, senior planner and air quality planner, respectively, wrote in the report.

      The projects that are in various stages of approval and completion by strata corporations involve building tune-ups, smart-building enhancement, mechanical upgrades, and improvements in building envelopes.

      “As of May 17, 2019, 87 strata corporations have completed walk-through energy assessments and received businesses [sic] case reports,” Emmert and Blair reported.

      This could be just the start. Emmert and Blair wrote in their report that depending on the final results of the pilot, which runs until November 2019, an “ongoing program in the region may be recommended”.

      According to the background paper, actions taken during major renewals and regular maintenance could result in greenhouse-gas reductions of more than 25,000 tonnes per year by 2020 and more than 280,000 tonnes a year by 2045.

      The pilot program is being delivered by SES Consulting, a Vancouver-based energy-efficiency engineering firm.

      Based on earlier calculations by the Pembina Institute, a climate- and energy-policy think tank, retrofitted buildings that are more energy-efficient and have switched to electricity and low-carbon power sources can achieve reductions of 60 percent in their emissions.