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Victoria mandates zero carbon new buildings by 2025, ahead of B.C. timeline

Provincial requirement for new construction likely to take effect in 2030
The City of Victoria plans to phase in a movement to a zero-carbon requirement on new buildings by 2025. (City of Victoria )

The City of Victoria will require all new construction to produce no greenhouse gas emissions as of 2025.

The city expects its zero carbon mandate to come into effect five years ahead of the provincial timeline for fully renewable energy-powered new buildings.

Victoria’s phased-in mandate will take effect once the province adds carbon pollution standards to B.C.’s building code, which is expected to happen late this year. That move will give municipalities the ability to directly limit emissions from new construction.

With the phased approach, smaller new residential buildings in Victoria will need to meet a low carbon standard by July 2023, with all other residential and commercial types having to do so one year later. The zero-carbon standard will then impact all new structures in July 2025.

Municipalities to this point have had the choice to buy into the provincial Step Code – an optional guideline that can be used to mandate energy efficiency in new construction that goes above and beyond the building code.

The capital city touts itself as one of the first B.C. municipalities to make the expedited requirement for new builds. Vancouver had committed to ensuring the majority of new buildings produced no operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and all new ones to have no GHGs by 2030.

“Buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas pollution generated in the city,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a release. “Each new building will last more than 50 years, so raising the bar now is critical to meeting our long-term climate goals, and to preparing the taxpayers of the future to have less climate-related costs down the road.”

After engaging with the construction industry earlier this year, the city said those participants expressed support for regulation on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new construction – as long as they got sufficient notice.

“The technical review has found that the building and development industry is technically capable of meeting both the low carbon and zero carbon ready standards today, and what is needed is time and clarity for industry to integrate new requirements into building, site planning and design,” a city report reads.

Two costing analyses found that incremental capital costs for all building types fell within a range of 0.1 per cent in savings to increased costs up to 2.2 per cent. Operational cost impacts ranged from a savings of seven per cent to an annual increase of 2.2 per cent.

The move will account for up to seven per cent of the city’s total emission reductions by mid-century. Victoria aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.

READ: Road vehicles drove Capital Region’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions, despite COVID-19 impacts

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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