Green Building Policy

Building for a climate-resilient future

Developing Vancouver’s first Green Building Policy is an important step toward protecting our community from the impacts of climate change while reducing the carbon emissions that contribute to it.

What is the Green Building Policy?

The Green Building Policy will introduce new building and development code standards, incentives, and programs to significantly reduce energy use and emissions and increase resilience to the effects of climate change. Implemented gradually to ensure a smooth transition and minimize costs, this policy will help Vancouver achieve its ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2040. It targets emissions from both new constructions and existing City-owned buildings.

The policy will explore ways to include:

The City of Vancouver will also evaluate how the new Green Building Policy can contribute to housing affordability. The City is committed to creating a just and equitable policy.

Why is Vancouver developing a Green Building Policy?

Unlike many places in Washington, Vancouver does not have a green building policy. This lack of a strategy means sustainable practices are not consistent across new developments. This can confuse developers and create inconsistent experiences for buyers, owners and renters.  

Buildings are a major source of carbon emissions, which cause climate change. In Vancouver, 28 percent of carbon pollution comes from heating, cooling and running appliances in buildings. Energy use, waste and the production and transport of building materials, such as cement and steel, adds more carbon pollution during construction.

Citywide Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Sector (2019)

Buildings and facilities 58%; Street lights and traffic signals 7%; Vehicle fleets 23%; Employee commute 5%; Solid waste facilities 5%; Water and wastewater treatment facilities 2%; Process and fugitative emissions 1%

The energy used by our buildings for heating, cooling, powering appliances, and other uses accounts for 28% of Vancouver’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Green building policies do more than cut carbon pollution. They make buildings more comfortable and healthier by improving air quality and ensuring proper HVAC systems. These policies may also protect the environment, by including bird-friendly designs, encouraging drought-tolerant plants and preserving trees. They help buildings and communities handle extreme weather better by ensuring better insulation from outside temperatures, shedding excess heat through shading or reflective materials, regulating energy usage during peak times, and providing backup power in case of an outage. 

The new Green Building Policy will lower carbon pollution from buildings and construction and improve quality of life. It will also make the development process clearer and more consistent.

How is the Policy being developed?

Policy development began in 2023 with the aim of presenting the Green Building Policy and associated building code updates to the City Council for approval by the end of 2024. The City has hired SSG, a climate planning consulting firm, to help lead the development of the policy.

The policy is being developed through a combination of technical analysis and public engagement. The technical team has conducted a comprehensive review of current city and state codes, programs, development processes and facilities operations. The team has also studied green building policies and how they have been implemented in other communities in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the team is undertaking modeling and data analysis to assess the potential impact of green building policies on greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, energy and construction costs, jobs and equity.

The technical analysis is supported by collaborative engagement with City staff, decision-makers and community members. A Technical Advisory Group, composed of representatives from the construction industry, tradespeople, and utilities, as well as green building experts, environmental and affordable housing advocates, and City staff, is providing input at key stages of policy development. Other community members can give feedback through roundtables, workshops, and a survey.

Project Timeline (2023-2024). October - Start and Data Collection. November-April - Review Context Approaches and Building Energy and Emissions Projections. May - Policy Exploration and Policy Modeling. June - GBP and Implementation Strategy. July - VMC Title 17 (Buildings and Construction Update). Fall 2024 - Final GBP and Council Presentation. Active Community Engagement Period is November through July.

How can I participate?

You can provide input for the Green Building Policy through

The Green Building Policy Roundtables aim to engage members of the construction industry and green building experts. One roundtable will focus on residential buildings, while another will focus on non-residential buildings.  Participants will have a chance to learn about best practices from a green buildings expert, as well as the specific measures under consideration for Green Building Policy. The consultants will seek feedback on how the Policy should be implemented and what support the industry might need to overcome challenges.  

The roundtables will be held online in early to mid-June. If you are interested, please contact Chim Chune Ko at chimchune.ko@cityofvancouver.us.  

The Public Workshop is open to all members of the community. Participants will have a chance to learn about the Green Building Policy and provide feedback on what is included in the policy and how it should be implemented. 

The Equity Workshop aims to engage affordable housing providers, housing advocates, and representatives of equity-denied groups. The workshop will focus on identifying equity considerations related to the Green Building Policy.  

The workshop will be held online in early June. If you are interested, please contact Chim Chune Ko at chimchune.ko@cityofvancouver.us.  

The Green Building Survey is an online survey targeted at developers and contractors. It will gather input on barriers and opportunities for the Green Building Policy, as well as what supports the construction industry needs to implement the policy and how it should be implemented.  The survey will run from late May through to June. A link to the survey will be added here when the survey is available.

Contact us

Any general questions on the overall Green Building Policy development process can be sent to Rebecca Small, Climate Action Lead, City Manager’s Office, rebecca.small@cityofvancouver.us 

Questions on potential Title 17 changes should be directed to Chad Eiken, Director, Community Development Department, chad.eiken@cityofvancouver.us