An open letter to the Honourable David Eby on building electrification

September 28, 2021
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We urgently need to reduce carbon pollution from buildings

Honourable David Eby
Attorney General
Minister Responsible for Housing
Room 232 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4


RE: Carbon Performance Requirements for New Developments

Dear Honourable David Eby,

We commend your Ministry’s commitments to affordability, equity, and reducing carbon pollution from BC’s buildings.

As you know, in March 2021, the BC government established a target for BC Buildings and Communities to reduce total GHG emissions 59%-64% below 2007 levels by 2030. Achieving this target will require new buildings to be zero GHG emissions in their operations as soon as possible. Building emissions are the source of 13% of BC’s GHGs. As Minister Responsible for Housing, you have within your portfolio an important means by which to make clear to British Columbians that we face a climate emergency, and that your government is prepared to meet this moment with bold action.

We the undersigned are calling upon you to require zero emissions new construction in the BC Building Code. In BC’s more temperate climate zones (e.g. Climate Zones 4 and 5), where the large majority of new development occurs, zero emissions requirements should come into effect by January 2023 (if not late 2022). These requirements may then expand to colder parts of the Province, where markets for heat pump systems are less well developed, in subsequent years (e.g. 2024 or 2025).

It is critical for buildings’ emissions performance requirements to be structured appropriately to ensure real-world outcomes. The best way to ensure zero emissions is to require new construction be allelectric, with no gas plumbing to major building energy end uses like space heating, domestic hot water and clothes drying; requirements should continue to allow new buildings to connect to neighbourhood district energy systems. Such All-electric requirements, and “all-electric preferred reach codes”, have been adopting by over 47 leading cities in North America, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Sacramento.

We also urge you and your government to give priority to measures such as differential electric utility rates and capital grants to ensure that new housing is more affordable for BC’s most vulnerable citizens during the transition to a more sustainable future. While zero emissions all-electric buildings can be cost-competitive with polluting buildings, these measures can mitigate the occasional circumstances where a zero emissions all-electric building is more costly or entail higher monthly operating costs.

The attached Issue Brief provides further background and references to additional information, including recommended language for all-electric building system requirements.

Thank you & best regards,

Will Cole-Hamilton, Councillor, City of Courtenay & Director, Climate Caucus
Stephanie Smith, President, BC General Employees’ Union
Thom Armstrong, CEO, Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
Jill Atkey, CEO, BC Non-Profit Housing Association
Teri Mooring, President, BC Teachers’ Federation
Melissa Lem, President-elect, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Dr Linda Thyer, Doctors for Planetary Health
Laurel Hart, Babies for Climate Action – Vancouver
Marian Hakze, For Our Kids Northshore
Maureen Marriott, For Our Kids Vancouver
Liz McDowell, Director of Digital and Campaign Strategies, Stand.Earth
Seth Klein, Team Lead, Climate Emergency Unit
Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaigns Manager, Dogwood
Celine Trojand, Chief Impact Officer, on behalf of Ecotrust Canada
Ian Bruce, Acting Executive Director, David Suzuki Foundation
Brendan Haley, Policy Director, Efficiency Canada
Karen Tam Wu, Regional Director, BC & Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze, Buildings & Urban Solutions
Director Pembina Institute
Chris Ballard, CEO, Passive House Canada
Rob Bernhardt, Former CEO, Passive House Canada
Albert Rooks, Chief Executive Officer, Small Planet Supply & President, Passive House Northwest
Sunny Ghataurah, P. Eng., President, & Brendan McEwen, Director Low Carbon Strategies, AES
Engineering Ltd.

Lisa Westerhoff, Principal, & Stuart Hood, P.Eng., Regional Director, British Columbia, Integral Group
Jennifer Cutbill, Architect AIBC, FRAIC, Principal, Lateral Agency
Peter Sundberg, Executive Director, City Green Solutions
Jason Packer, President, Recollective Consulting Ltd.
Devon Miller, Principal, Origin Sustainable Design + Planning
Christine Gustafson, P.Eng., C.E.M. – Harbourgreene Consulting Inc.
Louis Conway, Architect
Dani Pretto, Principal, Vanterre
Shirley Shen, Director, Haeccity Studio Architecture

Note: You can download the full text of this letter and additional Issue Brief on this topic here.