B.C. pitches net-zero energy challenge to developers

The B.C. government will provide financial rewards to several building projects in the province that are designed to the highest level of energy efficiency.

The Better Buildings B.C.: Net Zero Energy-Ready challenge was launched in downtown Vancouver last week at an event held by the Urban Development Institute.

The program has two financial incentives: one for the design phase of a project, the other for the construction phase. The program will provide up to $40,000 to successful design teams to offset the additional costs of designing net-zero energy buildings and up to $350,000, depending on the type and size of building, to offset additional construction costs.

The program begins immediately and is open to projects anywhere in the province.

“It’s a program to support and celebrate net-zero energy-ready buildings,” said Andrew Pye, senior energy efficiency coordinator with the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Petroleum Resources, which is funding the program. Integral Group Consulting is administering the pilot project.

Pye said the program aims to familiarize the B.C. building industry with the technologies, tools and procedures needed to get to net-zero designation while rewarding successful projects and sharing expertise and knowledge.

A net-zero energy-ready building is one that has been designed and built so it could meet its own energy needs and could include on-site solar panels or other renewable energy technologies.

The program is available to builders and developers of multi-family, commercial and institutional buildings that are designed to achieve the top tier of the province’s Energy Step Code. Projects targeting the passive house standard are also eligible. So, too, are projects within the top level of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan.

“In order to be eligible, the project has to either be in the process of having submitted an application to a municipality in British Columbia, a permit application, and/or the title for the lands have already been secured,” said Lisa Westerhoff, an associate for sustainability research and planning with Integral Group in Vancouver.

“Basically, (we have to make) sure this is going to be a viable project that is going to come to fruition,” she told a room of developers, designers, consultants and others at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Projects that already have a building permit cannot apply.

She called the program a pilot project that she hopes will be continued.

The design incentive could be awarded to between 10 and 14 projects, while the secondary net zero energy-ready construction incentive could be awarded to about six projects, she said.

Ottawa’s Natural Resources Canada and the B.C. government’s Forestry Innovation Investment company are also funding the program.

Westerhoff said each application would be assessed by an advisory panel, a technical review panel and a selection committee, including a variety of government, utility, and industry leaders with knowledge of high-performance buildings.

“We want to make sure these buildings also are aesthetically pleasing, well designed. … the kinds of buildings that we want to work and live in,” she said.

The second incentive will offer awards depending on the type and size of the building. Low-rise multi-family buildings could receive a maximum of $100,000; highrise multi-family could get up to $350,000; offices up to $250,000; retail up to $175,000; and institutional buildings up to $350,000.

Westerhoff said the hope is to attract applications from around the province.

“Certainly, we expect to see quite a few from the Lower Mainland as there has been momentum in this direction, but we would very much encourage applications from everywhere across British Columbia,” she said. “We would love to see representation from all the different climate zones and all the different industries.”

She said the application process is not expected to delay development of the participating projects.

“Many of the components that we’re asking for within the application form are materials and information that will have to be produced anyway by a design team in applying for a permit … so we don’t expect this to add much additional burden at all to a design team.”

Expressions of interest will be accepted until Nov 30, full program applications must be received by the end of March and the announcement of winners would be announced in June.

Westerhoff said the payments would be made between 2020 and 2023, depending on the individual developments’ timelines.

Providing incentives now to the homebuilding industry to offset the initial cost of getting to net-zero building standards will be helpful, said Anne McMullin, the president and CEO of the UDI, which advocates for developers.

“This will enable the establishment of some local best practices and knowledge transfer, as well as a robust, regional supply chain so that the entire industry will be ready for this new standard by 2032,” she said in an email.



Reposted from The Vancouver Sun


The Cora Group has earned Canada’s first Zero Carbon Building Design certification for, a commercial multi-tenant office building in Waterloo, ON.

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) presented the certification, which required the building to:

  • model a zero carbon balance for future operations;
  • incorporate a highly efficient envelope and ventilation system to meet a defined threshold for thermal energy demand intensity; and
  • design onsite renewable energy systems capable of providing a minimum of five per cent of building energy consumption.

Still under construction, evolv1 is one of 16 projects across Canada selected to participate in CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard two-year pilot program.

The high-performance building envelope incorporates triple glazing, a solar wall for preheated ventilation, a geo-exchange/VRF HVAC system, three-storey green wall, and a combination of photovoltaics. It is due for completion in summer 2018.

Over the course of the first 12 months of operation, evolv1 will monitor performance to demonstrate a zero emissions balance in order to earn Zero Carbon Building Performance certification.

“It is extremely satisfying for all involved to have our work nationally recognized,” said Adrian Conrad, COO of the Cora Group. “We firmly believe it sets a new benchmark for green building design and construction.” www.coragroup.com

From www.HPACmag.com  with thanks!

BC Insulators talking sustainability with Mechanical Insulation to city councils

Bob Barter at booth - UBCM-small

Bob Barter of BC Insulators spreading the word on Mechanical Insulation – the 1% Solution for sustainability!


BC Insulators’ Bob Barter and Neil Munro made a presentation to the Sustainable City Advisory Committee of the City of Burnaby on June 7, promoting the use of proper Mechanical Insulation and illustrating heat loss through the use of a thermal imaging camera and 3e Plus software.  Committee members were impressed and called the presentation “very informative” – and the information has been sent on to Burnaby staff to review.  We look forward to further discussions with the city to help them meet their sustainability goals.

We are scheduling more appearances before city councils throughout the province.

Local 118 is also working on the language for three resolutions to be presented to the Union of BC Municipalities conference in September, where city mayors and councillors gather to discuss and debate policies.  Our resolutions involve: Building Commissioning; Building Labelling; and Benchmarking.


Justin Teskey and Riley Feser-Gray from the BC Insulators attended the Certified Insulation Energy Appraiser course hosted in Edmonton by Insulators Union Local 110 and the I Save team. Both members are now Certified Appraisers and will be included on future Audits that Salamander Inspections conducts. BC Insulators now have five Energy Appraisers available to conduct Audits and use thermal cameras and the 3ePlus software that generates the reports.


Teskey and  Munro also attended the Building Lasting Change Conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The conference was very interesting and focused on Net Zero Buildings. To achieve Net Zero buildings will have increased attention to building envelope, ventilation strategies and onsite energy generation (solar, wind and Biomass). Buildings will also have new targets including Total Energy Use Intensity, Thermal energy Demand Intensity, GHG Intensity Targets.

This will include building commissioning that ensures that buildings are constructed and operated properly.




BC Insulators get JUST Label for social justice work

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BC Insulators are first union to receive JUST Label for commitment to social justice and equity from Seattle-based International Living Future Institute – joining green building architects, engineers, contractors with JUST Label status


Wednesday May 11, 2016

VANCOUVER – The BC Insulators have become the first labour union to receive a coveted JUST Label from the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute – for its commitment to social justice and equity and it’s transparency and accountability

Lee Loftus, Business Manager of the BC Insulators, says it is an honour to be the first union to obtain a JUST Label after going through the application process and making an organizational decision to provide the public with full information about how it addresses social justice and equity issues.

“We are very proud indeed to be the first union to receive a JUST Label and be among many progressive businesses and non-profits in the Pacific Northwest who are committed to social justice, equity and transparency,” says Loftus.

“It is gratifying to have our union join with green building construction firms, architects, engineers, banks, non-profits and others in starting a process where anyone can see how we practice social justice and promote equity in our daily work, with our employees, our investments and our members,” Loftus said.

According to the Institute: “The JUST Program acts somewhat as a ‘nutrition label’ for socially just and equitable organizations…. the program provides an innovative transparency platform for organizations to reveal much about their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments.”

Loftus said the BC Insulators will promote the JUST Label as a positive benefit with contractors who employ the union’s members in a wide variety of commercial, industrial and residential construction in BC, as well as with the public and in the labour movement.

“The BC Insulators are well known for our work promoting energy conservation and efficiency, green buildings and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption – this JUST Label is an important recognition of our values,” Loftus said.

BC Insulators at GLOBE 2016 Vancouver Conference

Financing the Green Economy

GLOBE 2016 Vancouver is on March 2 to 4 and the BC Insulators will be there at the Innovation Expo!

GLOBE 2016 – The Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business – is one of Canada’s biggest and best known environmental events.

The BC Insulators will have a booth at the Expo to provide information about mechanical insulation, energy conservation and efficiency to the more than 1,600 people attending.


What’s at Stake in Metro Vancouver Transit Vote?


Good jobs and reduced congestion, says recent study by Green Jobs BC and Blue Green Canada

By Blair Redlin

Residents who are waiting to hear the results of the vote on the $7.5 billion, 10-year transit plan proposed by regional mayors may be interested to know the results of our recent economic study for Green Jobs BC and Blue Green Canada.

One of the questions that economist David Fairey and I sought to answer was: ”How many jobs will be generated if the Mayor’s 10 Transit Plan is implemented?” We also asked about the economic impact of better transit and reduced climate stress because of fewer green house gas emissions. Along the way we found some very interesting numbers about congestion as well.

To prepare our report, we reviewed a wide number of documents from January to early March. Our findings on potential jobs and economic impacts that would result from the mayors’ transit plan are based on economic consultant reports commissioned by TransLink.

The deadline for mailing your transit ballot was Friday, May 29, with results expected by mid-to late June.

As it turns out, the number of direct jobs arising from implementing the mayors’ transit plan is significant. Currently, TransLink contributes roughly 6,000 jobs to our economy. Our analysis shows that the mayors’ plan would add another 3,600 direct jobs over the next decade.

By way of comparison, the number of direct jobs in oil and gas extraction last year, according to B.C. Statistics, was 6,200. And that was before the recent drop in oil and gas prices. If the mayors’ plan is implemented, there would be 50 per more jobs in transit by the end of the decade than in extraction of oil and gas.


Economic consulting firm HDR found that the mayors’ plan would also cut the congestion that costs $487 million and enormous amounts of time every year. Maintaining the status quo will result in an additional $1 billion in congestion costs by 2045. By providing a way for more trips without a car, the plan would cut lost time and money by up to four per cent. Investment in new rapid transit lines, additional bus service, and a new Patullo Bridge means getting people out of traffic, giving them more time to spend with family and friends.

Reduces emissions

The plan also means real action on the climate. The effects of climate change are playing out in real time, with everybody from insurance companies to the U.S. Navy preparing for a less stable climate future. British Columbia’s greenhouse gas reduction plan aims to reduce emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.

Transportation makes up a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Metro Vancouver, and investments in climate-friendly transit infrastructure are key to meeting these targets. The mayors’ transit plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 8.2 per cent over the status quo, dramatically decreasing our per person use of fossil fuels.

Metro Vancouver has already embraced transit: between 2003 and 2013, the annual number of trips taken on transit increased by almost 90 million. The most recent significant transit investment in our region, the Canada Line, carries more than 122,000 people per day, already surpassing ridership projections for 2021. With a million more people expected in our region by 2045, transit will play an even bigger role in keeping our region moving.

Implementing the mayors’ transit plan would create thousands of good jobs, strengthen the regional economy, significantly cut congestion, and tackle climate change in a meaningful way.

* * * *

NOTE:  Balloting closed in the transit and transportation plebiscite on May 29.  Originally published in The Tyee; reprinted with kind permission.

Blair Redlin is a former BC deputy minister of Transportation and former CUPE researcher. He co-authored Good Jobs, Clean Skies with economist David Fairey.

BC Insulators promote Energy Conservation at BUILDEX Vancouver 2015

Buildex Vancouver 2015

The BC Insulators will have a booth to promote mechanical insulation at the annual BUILDEX Vancouver 2015 – Western Canada’s largest conference and tradeshow for construction, renovation and related work.

The conference takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre – West on February 25 & 26, 2015.  The are a limited number of free tickets for anyone interested in attending the Trade Show – please contact the BC Insulators office to arrange your ticket.

There are over 600 exhibits on the trade show floor, which is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm  February 25th and 9:30 am to 4:00 pm on February 26, 2015.  You can check out the details at the exhibitors’ list.

Green Chamber of Commerce BC throws party July 10


The Green Chamber of Commerce BC is celebrating its 1 Year Anniversary with a Green Products Showcase Party!

Come sample various green products and join us for a fun night of celebration.

There will be food, music, wine, beer, and lots of door prizes.

The event takes place Thursday, July 10, 2014 from 8:30pm at Greenworks Building Supply,  79 W 3rd Avenue in Vancouver.

It’s free for Member and just $10 + tax for non-members.

The BC Insulators are proud Founding Members and supporters of the Green Chamber of Commerce, which exists to bridge “the gap between businesses and a green sustainable economy.”

BC Insulators at Canada Green Building Conference – Toronto June 2-4

Building Lasting Change 2014 expo

The BC Insulators will be at the Canada Green Building Council Expo and Conference in Toronto from June 2 to 4 – spreading the message about the 1% Solution – Mechanical Insulation.

The 2014 Conference theme is Building Lasting Change – Exploring the Value of Green Building.

The BC Insulators will share a booth with the Insulators union Local 95 from Ontario – come by and say hello if you are there.

According to Conference organizers, this year’s program will address new information on the business case and performance of green buildings, but also embrace the broader value proposition of building green. Going beyond the operational savings, the focus will be on emerging benefits that are now becoming better understood such as:

  • Enhanced health and well-being;
  • Tenant attraction and retention; and
  • Innovation and job growth with linkages to enhancing corporate social responsibility, shareholder value, environmental quality, livability and international trade.

The conference is Canada’s largest green building event,

Lee Loftus and Cher Hanusiak: Save energy and the planet with mechanical insulation

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Published in The Province newspaper, Sunday April 6, 2014

“Waste not, want not.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790

With Earth Day coming up on April 22, we will hear about “greener” energy efficient buildings and alternative power sources like solar panels. But the simplest and most economical way of saving money and the planet isn’t new — it’s old.

The best way to save energy follows what Benjamin Franklin said — don’t waste it — and the way to do that is through mechanical insulation of pipes and other mechanical systems.

Properly installed mechanical insulation can reduce our carbon footprint, lower greenhouse gas emissions, use less energy, cut costs and pay for itself in a remarkably short period of time.

And with B.C. Hydro rates going up 28 per cent over five years and ever-rising bills for other heating fuel, it’s an opportune time to discuss how individuals and businesses alike can save money by cutting energy consumption — and how government can help too.

The Green Chamber of Commerce B.C., the B.C. Insulators union and the Mechanical Contractors Association of B.C. have come together to promote sustainable, environmentally sound approaches to the challenges businesses face today.

Growing a sustainable economy that embraces people, the planet and profit is the Green Chamber’s mission, while the B.C.

Insulators have helped construct energy-efficient buildings for more than 50 years.

Mechanical insulation is rightly called the one-per-cent solution because it amounts to only one per cent of the construction costs of a new building. When done correctly, mechanical insulation pays for itself in energy savings in record time.

For example, if appropriate mechanical insulation were utilized in a new 25-storey, electrically heated residential apartment building, the annual energy savings would be 320,000 kilowatt hours.

That’s 14 per cent of total energy consumption — an enormous amount in just one year!

And mechanical insulation would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions of carbon dioxide by an amazing 58.8 tonnes annually.

The best part is that the payback period for investing in proper mechanical insulation during construction is estimated at less than 2.7 years, based purely on energy cost savings.

A study by HB Lanarc Consultants commissioned by the B.C. Insulators documented these savings and showed how retrofitting older buildings with proper mechanical insulation also pays for itself in short order.

Energy savings for a four-storey, wood-frame residential building 20 to 40 years old would cover the cost of retrofitted mechanical insulation in less than four years.

There are still more benefits: reduced noise through properly insulated heating and cooling equipment; increased fire prevention and better protection of mechanical systems from fire damage; and eliminating condensation and resulting mould, avoiding expensive repairs.

Lower energy bills, significant greenhouse-gas reductions and a quick return on the costs — the only question is: Why isn’t this happening all over Canada? Fortunately, more people are getting the message, including many B.C. municipalities that have endorsed better mechanical insulation.

Unfortunately, too often corners get cut during construction to reduce the purchase price and as a result, mechanical insulation is often inadequate and improperly installed by untrained workers.

The goal of developers, architects and construction contractors is to sell units, not guarantee lower operating costs — but it’s the end user who would see the energy savings benefits.

What can be done to ensure mechanical insulation is more broadly used as a cost-effective solution?

Utility companies are already very interested and can offer rebates for energy-efficient buildings.

The provincial and federal governments should play a huge role by amending building codes to demand best practices and appropriate installation of effective mechanical insulation, while doing the same for their own buildings.

Homebuyers and businesses can still demand proper mechanical insulation in new buildings or look at retrofits to quickly cut energy costs. This Earth Day it’s the easiest and most economical way to go green every day.

Lee Loftus is business manager of the B.C. Insulators union, local 118. Cher Hanusiak is a director of the Green Chamber of Commerce of B.C.