Upgrading older buildings could make a huge impact on emissions

Making some simple energy upgrades to older buildings could have a huge impact on carbon missions according to a new report.

Looking specifically at older apartment buildings in British Columbia, FortisBC says that measures such as new boiler systems, and energy-efficient taps, faucets and showerheads, go a long way to making these homes sustainable.

Based on an estimation of more than 11,000 older apartment buildings across the province, the report calculates that carbon emissions could be slashed by 200,000 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking 43,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road.

"Rental apartments are so important in our communities, and our early research showed almost 80 per cent of apartments in B.C. were built more than 35 years ago to lower efficiency standards than exist today," said Danielle Wensink, director of conservation and energy management, FortisBC. "Lowering energy use in these buildings is critical. Building owners already face so many maintenance concerns that we worked to simplify what can be a complex and overwhelming process."

FortisBC says that these older buildings provide affordable homes but building owners and investors are pressured by their utility and maintenance costs, community infrastructure and emissions.

But simple upgrades can, for example, reduce domestic hot water energy use by an average of about 12 per cent per year.

Upgrade program
FortisBC’s Rental Apartment Program launched in 2015 and enables building owners to benefit from energy-saving measures at no cost.

"The results so far are substantial, and have proved very beneficial for participating owners, especially those who are investing in further upgrades," said Wensink.

LandlordBC, which represents more than 3,300 owners and managers of rental housing in B.C., is a strong proponent of energy efficiency in rental buildings with their members and understands that support is a key element.

"Building owners who invest in energy-saving upgrades show a real commitment to keeping these important rental buildings on the market and operating them more sustainably," said David Hutniak, chief executive officer, LandlordBC. "Support like this is critical given the significant cost pressures building owners face, and it pays off for tenants, owners and communities by making these homes more comfortable and sustainable, more affordable to operate and less impactful on community water systems."  

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