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New data from FortisBC reveal the impact of making older apartments more sustainable
Nov 12, 2019
Simple energy savings measures have potential to reduce B.C. emissions by 200,000 tonnes annually
Vancouver, B.C. ̶ Today, FortisBC released emissions and energy use data showing that simple energy efficiency upgrades in older apartment buildings have the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the province by about 200,000 tonnes annually or the equivalent of removing 43,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road. FortisBC estimates there are over 11,000 older rental apartment buildings in B.C. providing affordable housing, but poor performance within these buildings makes them less viable due to the pressure it places on owners’ utility and maintenance costs, community infrastructure and emissions.
“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.”
To address this issue, in 2015 FortisBC began its Rental Apartment Program aimed at installing simple energy-saving measures directly into suites and common areas on behalf of owners at no cost. The program also provides owners with a pathway and financial support when upgrading building equipment, such as replacing aging and lesser efficient boiler systems with high-efficiency equivalents to meet space heating and hot water needs. Since that time, more than 800 buildings across the province have received upgrades like energy-efficient taps, faucets and showerheads that reduce water consumption and energy usage. Owners have also received hands-on support to identify and make deeper retrofits such as upgrades to their buildings’ overall heating and mechanical systems.
“The results so far are substantial, and have proved very beneficial for participating owners, especially those who are investing in further upgrades,” said Wensink.
The basic upgrades alone reduce domestic hot water energy use by an average of about 12 per cent per year. As of this year, the water savings reached the equivalent of filling close to 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools or running a garden hose non-stop for over 20 years. It’s also lowered carbon emissions by almost 15,000 tonnes, or the equivalent to the natural gas use of just over 3,200 single-family homes.
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.”
With the tremendous potential for energy savings and emission reductions, FortisBC is looking for more ways to help building owners, such as targeting support in the communities with the highest number of rental apartment buildings such as Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna. It’s also evaluating promising new high-efficiency natural gas equipment.
Investing in and improving energy efficiency is one of the ways FortisBC is working towards its 30BY30 Target of lowering GHG emissions associated with their customers’ energy use by 30 per cent overall by the year 2030. For more information, visit fortisbc.com/apartment.
- FortisBC launched the Rental Apartment Program (RAP) in 2015 to improve the efficiency of rental apartments.
- As of August 2019, RAP has provided upgrades to over 800 buildings representing over 30,000 units
- At this time, the program has saved:
- An estimated $2 million in utility costs
- An estimated 283,000 gigajoules of natural gas and 274,000 kWh of electricity
- Annual water savings of approximately 270 million litres per year. That’s equivalent to about 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools
- Greenhouse gas emissions reductions of approximately 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide; equivalent to about 3,200 single-family homes.
- With over 11,000 older rental apartment buildings in B.C., this initiative has the potential to reduce natural gas use by 3.9 million gigajoules annually and carbon emissions by about 200,000 tonnes – the equivalent of removing 43,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road for a year.
- The savings from the first phase of the program, the direct install of energy-saving faucets, taps and showerheads, as well as LED lighting for FortisBC electric customers, have reduced energy use by an average of 12 per cent per year. Landlords that invest in further upgrades typically save even more.
- View a video about the program at fortisbc.com/apartment
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FortisBC Energy Inc. is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC Energy Inc. employs more than 1,800 British Columbians and serves approximately 1,029,000 customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC Energy Inc. owns and operates approximately 49,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Energy Inc. is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. FortisBC uses the FortisBC name and logo under license from Fortis Inc. For further information visit fortisinc.com.