In July of 2016, the City of Vancouver announced it’s Zero Emissions Building Plan, which aggressively targets using renewable energy in all new buildings by 2030, and all new and existing buildings by 2050.

This plan will significantly change the type of HVAC systems used in future buildings, resulting in a major reduction of gas-fired systems. In our opinion, an increase in heat pump mechanical systems in various forms will be the leading technology that can meet performance requirements.

But how does COV’s plan compare to other cities?  Just last month, New York City announced a mandate to dramatically reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in existing buildings.

Here’s a summary of how the plans compare between the two cities:


The two plans are fairly similar to start with;  both have the same end goal of reducing green house gas emissions by 80% by 2050.   Both plan to use new regulations to improve the efficiency of both mechanical systems and envelope.

However, there are significant differences.  The COV’s plan is to require renewable energy in all new buildings by 2030.  NYC’s plan is to aggressively require retrofitting existing buildings by 2030.  While there are fossil fuel caps in NYC’s plan, COV’s plan is extreme by only allowing renewable natural gas to be used.

From a HVAC perspective, there is a much wider range of mechanical systems available if natural gas is an economical perspective.  In a study done in 2014, 58% of the energy used in buildings comes from natural gas use.  There is going to be a significant amount of retrofits required to “electrify” buildings so that they can comply with the 2050 renewable energy mandate.

In the next 10 years, new building construction in the City of Vancouver is going to be dominated by heat pump-type systems that can meet performance requirements, without using fossil fuels.

For more information on how to prepare your building for this renewable energy mandate, contact our Design team today.