The $10B+ Opportunity – BC’s Emerging Retrofit Economy - men on a construction crane insalling new insulation on an apartment building

The $10B+ Opportunity: BC’s Emerging Retrofit Economy

Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city of Vancouver, and one of the largest in the region

The economic potential of both reducing these emissions, and the work that would be required to do so, is hard to overstate.

Health Canada estimates the total economic cost of all health impacts attributable to air pollution, like greenhouse gases, is $120 billion annually(2016 CAD). At the same time, work by the Delphi Group estimates that a broad approach to decarbonizing existing buildings, applied to just three regions – Metro Vancouver, the Capital Region, and the Thompson-Okanagan – would generate over $8 billion in net-new demand for building products. When services and infrastructure upgrades are taken into account, and other regions in the province are considered, demand will easily surpass $10 billion in the next decade and a half. As Dunsky Energy Consulting noted in 2018, this is on top of the incredible economic multipliers (7:1) of money spent on retrofits.

Retrofitting existing buildings is a clear economic, climate, and health priority

Retrofits are a core part of the new CleanBC Roadmap, which includes measures to decarbonize existing buildings, such as building energy labelling and benchmarking, new financing programs, and equipment efficiency standards. Regulations and requirements will now come forward even more quickly at both the regional and city levels in Vancouver. For Metro Vancouver, this is through the Clean Air Plan, and for the City of Vancouver, it is through the “Big Move 4: How we Build and Renovate” in the Climate Emergency Action Plan.

The general direction is clear: levels of carbon pollution must go down in an orderly way towards 2050, beginning with our largest commercial buildings in the region, and equipment and envelope efficiency must rise.

The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC), Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), and the Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) have been proud to partner on the year-long events series The Competitive Edge – Growing Your Business in the Future of Construction.

The fourth event of this series will feature two policy leaders laying out their organizations’ work to regulate and support retrofits for existing buildings, Erik Blair from Metro Vancouver and Micah Lang from the City of Vancouver; as well as industry leader John Loop, to talk about the practical experience of undertaking these in both public and private buildings.

Resources mentioned during the panel on BC’s Emerging Retrofit Economy

The Regional Approach – Cleaner Air and Resilient Buildings

Erik Blair, Metro Vancouver

Retrofitting Vancouver’s Commercial Buildings

Micah Lang, City of Vancouver

Construction Services and Retrofits

John Loop, Special Projects Manager, Scott Construction