At last week’s Happy Hour Chris Higgins, green building planner with the city of Vancouver, spotlighted the policy changes that have propelled Vancouver to the top of the Passive House charts in North America. The roadmap to replicating Vancouver’s success: Make permitting and constructing a Passive House building as easy as a code-minimum one by removing barriers and piling on incentives. Declaring a climate emergency in 2019 also helped.
After several years of Passive House support, the city can tout an impressive 2020 statistic—4,713 formal permit applications or early-stage inquiries for Passive House projects, including some very large buildings. There’s been good news on the supply chain front as well. In 2014 there were zero locally fabricated Passive House windows. Today there are six manufacturers that produce a variety of window types, including wood-framed, fiberglass, and aluminum.
The impetus that helped spur a smoother path to Passive House was a 2013 study of Vancouver’s carbon emissions. A whopping 54% of carbon emissions were traced to natural gas use in buildings—mostly for heating—and 39% from gas and diesel in vehicles. With those numbers not dropping quickly enough, a climate emergency was declared, which established six areas of emphasis to address the crisis: walkable neighborhoods, active transit, zero emission vehicles, zero emission space and water heating, low carbon materials, and restoration of coasts and forests. Passive House sets a clear path toward that fourth goal of zero emission space and water heating—and sharply cutting total building-related carbon emissions.
Find out all about how city staff helps builders choose and succeed with Passive House by watching the Happy Hour video.
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