In their efforts to achieve BC’s zero carbon emissions target by 2030 and contribute to Canada’s overall goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 as part of abiding by the new Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, the City of Vancouver recently implemented its new embodied carbon requirements within their Vancouver Building By-law. This stemmed from council’s approval in May of 2022 to require designers to calculate, limit and later reduce, embodied carbon in new Part 3 buildings. According to BC’s Building Act Guide a Part 3 building falls within the category of a complex building such as a shopping mall whereas, a Part 9 for instance falls under the category of a simple building such as a single family home for context.
Embodied Carbon emissions come from the production, distribution, assembly and demolishing of buildings and because the city is a mecca for gentrification, infrastructure and development, this is a great opportunity to ensure that buyers and their architects are following the guidelines and conducting their business in an environmentally conscious manner. Materials listed in the guidelines range from steel-reinforced concrete to office and commercial storefront aluminum curtain walls and windows. The hope is that this shift in reduction will help the city meet their target of reducing embodied emissions by 40% with little over five years to get there as part of their climate emergency declaration.
This takes a lot of the responsibility off of consumers and individuals and places it directly in private entities to be accountable for their conduct when it comes to taking the environment into consideration in their day to day ventures. This also gives rise to supply and demand for creators of new, innovative and sustainable renewable resource design ideas to be manufactured sustainably. There is still more work to be done on strengthening the guidelines to become more stringent for each project as the guidelines do give leeway for multiple buildings to be calculated in one combined embodied carbon report. However, enforcing absolute and baseline compliance of the new policy is a great start and we will hopefully see more cities following suite in the near future.
One such consultant, Elisabeth Baudinaud at Carbone Wise, has posted additional content respecting these new rules, which you can find here.
For information about development matters and disclosure requirements, reach out to James Struthers ([email protected]).
This blog was written by Katlia Lafferty.