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Vancouver Carbon Neutrality

Vancouver Skyline (City of Vancouver)
Carbon-Neutrality Framework Plans for 
Residential Mid and High Rise Buildings

In order for the City of Vancouver to achieve its vision for “all new buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2020”, a methodology was required by which energy and carbon emissions associated with buildings are defined, supported by meaningful and defensible performance targets. 



De-Carbonizing the Real Estate Portfolio

Intep was hired to develop the carbon-neutrality multifamily building framework plans for the City of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Forestry Innovation Investment company. This framework is a series of studies by Intep, which collectively establishes energy and carbon emission guideline targets and an implementation roadmap for a range of building types in the City of Vancouver. An operating energy/carbon policy methodology, roadmap and targets for high-rise residential buildings were published in 2011; a report for mid-rise residential building including embodied energy was published in 2012. Although the primary purpose of these studies of energy and carbon policy frameworks (completed and proposed) was to facilitate the implementation of carbon emissions and energy consumption reduction policies in buildings in the City of Vancouver, it was anticipated that the findings would be of relevance to other local authorities and asset managers who are seeking to “de-carbonize” their real estate portfolios. 


Making a Clear Implementation Plan with Real Targets

The framework plans address midrise multifamily residential buildings, which typically comprise 3 – 6 story condominium or apartment buildings, and high-rise buildings beyond that. These residential buildings in Vancouver are typically constructed from either concrete, very rarely, steel, and the midrise multifamily typically in wood. As such, they offer an opportunity to go beyond the realm of operational energy and—for the first time in Canada—consider the impacts associated with the materials selected for construction in a regulatory context. Experience from Switzerland—a global leader in low carbon building—shows that as operational energy consumption is reduced, embodied energy increases and becomes more and more important. Ultimately, embodied energy can become the greater portion of the energy /carbon footprint of a highly operationally efficient building. For consistency, all reports follow a similar scope, methodology, format, and implementation timeframe of 2020 with projections out to 2050. The timeline has been driven by the City of Vancouver’s “Greenest City Action Plan” (GCAP) in order to support its goal for “all new buildings to be carbon neutral by 2020” and the 2000-Watt Society goals were used for the 2050 reference targets. 

Key Services Provided
  • Life cycle impact assessment

  • Carbon-footprint analysis

  • Implementation of the 2000-Watt Society framework

  • Creation of carbon-neutrality framework plans

Project Details​
  • Client: City of Vancouver, B.C.

  • Authors:

    • Intep - Integrated Planning​

    • Intep - Integrale Planung

    • Light House Sustainable Building Centre

    • Brantwood Consulting

    • BTY Group

    • The Pembina Institute (peer review)

  • Financial Support:

    • The Real Estate Foundation British Columbia​

    • City of Vancouver

    • Intep

    • BTY Group

  • Project: 2011-12

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