By 2025, Victoria’s new buildings cannot use natural gas or other fossil fuels, council decides

Councilors want the new buildings to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels to heat spaces and heat water.


Almost all new construction in Victoria, from single-family homes to offices and residential towers, will need to be “zero carbon” by 2025, meaning they cannot be heated by fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane or fuel oil. .

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Citing concerns about climate change and pollution, Victoria council made the decision to fast-track greenhouse gas reductions in new buildings five years ahead of provincial requirements.

Victoria is among the first municipalities in the province to make the move to new construction, moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy. For most projects, that will likely mean using electricity to power equipment for space heating, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying.

The decision comes ahead of the province’s new building code and pollution guidelines, which are due to be announced later this year.

The Saanich and Central Saanich councils are considering a similar move. The three municipalities have had relationship processes with developers and builders. The Capital Regional District is supporting early adoptions of the plans.

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“Buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas pollution generated in the city,” Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement Monday.

“Each new building will last more than 50 years, so raising the bar now is critical to meeting our long-term climate goals and preparing tomorrow’s taxpayers for lower future climate-related costs.”

Laura Berndt, manager of energy and climate action for the city of Victoria, said the fossil fuel-free requirement for new buildings is part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% and move to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

He said the move was one of four priority actions, along with mobility, waste reduction and municipal operations, to reduce emissions.

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Victoria City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019.

The province’s carbon pollution standards are new regulations that are expected to be added to the provincial Procedural Code in December.

It will provide local governments with the ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new construction.

A city staff report said a series of discussions with the construction and development industry raised several concerns about electrifying new buildings, including the availability of adequate equipment and expertise, cost increases, design challenges and access. to enough electricity.

Several US cities, including New York City, are adopting fossil-free rules for new buildings.

In addition to electricity cost and supply issues, concerns have also been raised about restaurants in new buildings not being able to cook with natural gas and people not being able to make their own decisions about the types of energy they want to buy.

Some states, including Texas, seek to ban any policy that limits the use of natural gas.

To read more of the Times Colonist, click here.

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