Transforming Community Buildings

A condo complex of six homes built in the former Koo's auto shop, Koo's Corner incorporates solar water-heating panels on the roof, reclaimed materials on the inside and a heat recovery ventilation system.Despite the regulatory role of the BC Building Code, local governments have at their disposal a wide range of tools that can further facilitate the transition to green, low carbon community buildings, as described in this section.

Land use patterns are a significant factor in community building emissions. While most energy and green building standards measure building performance by unit of floor area, total community emissions will also be determined by the floor area each person or business occupies. For residential buildings, on a per person basis, higher density urban buildings are less energy and GHG intensive [1, 2] than lower density, suburban residential buildings. Compact, mixed use neighbourhoods can also create better business cases for district energy systems that can incorporate renewable energy sources.

At a technical level, low-carbon buildings will need to be addressed through a combination of siting, energy efficiency and renewable, low-emission energy sources. There is no single solution or set of design options that will work in every building or project; in each case, the optimal configuration needs to be determined by the designer or project team. This process can be influenced by the local government in order to bring a stronger awareness of energy and emissions objectives, benefits, and cost-effective solutions, as well as policies and incentives to spur positive change.


Official Community Plan

The OCP sets out key climate goals and targets for a community, as well as land use patterns that will influence future building emissions.

Regional Growth Strategy

The RGS can shape growth and land use across a region, influencing future building emissions.

Community Energy and Emissions Plan

Provides a full picture of energy in a community including buildings, and develops a roadmap to reduce energy use and/or move to renewables.


These policies can be used to encourage new low-carbon buildings and development in the community:


Innovative New Building Projects

Work with property developers and green building industry to develop projects such as:

District Energy System

Work with a property developer and/or private energy utility to implement a district energy system within a development, including alternative, renewable energy sources.

Community Building Retrofit

Facilitate energy efficiency retrofit projects for specific sectors.


Build and promote educational package(s) for residents and businesses, for example to include information on how to reduce emissions from their homes and businesses, and/or provide resources and links in the local government web site.

The Canada Green Building Council provides a searchable database of hundreds of LEED (LEED BC and LEED Canada) projects across Canada.


Third Party Building Incentives

Help residents and businesses take advantage of energy incentives and programs from other governments, agencies and utilities. The District of Saanich contracted the non-profit organization City Green Solutions to act as the community's Energy Manager.

Encourage and promote green operations for existing buildings - e.g. BOMA Go Green

[1] Norman et al, March 2006, Comparing High and Low Residential Density: Life Cycle Analysis of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Journal of Urban Planning & Development

[2] Energy Information Agency, US residential energy intensity by type of housing unit