Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Township’s Green Building Rebate Program

When the Township of Langley adopted its Sustainability Charter in 2008, it marked a change of course in planning for the community. Since that time, there has been some major changes such as transforming the plan for Carvolth in Willoughby from offices parks and single-family houses, to a vibrant mixed-use community with a high street. There have been tweaks to other community and neighbourhood plans, making them more walkable with a variety of housing types and shops. On the transportation front, Township of Langley staff has been working for several years on a comprehensive cycling plan for the community.

Of course there is much work that still needs to be done. There has also been cases where Township Council has actually gone against the spirit of the Sustainability Charter. The controversial approval of the Trinity Western University District, or the refusal to increase funding to build out the cycling network last year comes to mind.

One of the innovative ways that the Township is working to increase sustainable building practices is with the introduction of a Green Building Permit Rebate Program.

In 2014, the Township of Langley piloted a one year program to rebate builders $750 for each new single-family house, and $150 for each new townhouse, row-house, or manor-house if an EngerGuide rating of 80 for single-family houses, or 82 for other housing types was achieved.

Typical houses built to code have a rating of between 65 and 72. The rebate comes off the Township’s building permitting fees. You can find out more information about the rating system at Natural Resources Canada.

To help fund the rebate program, the Township is introducing a Sustainable Construction Fee which is applied to virtually all new major building permits.

Twelve participants qualified for rebates during the 2014 pilot program. There are 460 housing units that should qualify for the rebate this year.

Because of the success of the program, Township staff recommended that the rebate program become permanent. The BC Building Code is requiring more energy efficient houses, and the Township will monitor the rebate program to make sure it encourages development that goes above and beyond BC Building Code requirements.

Township Council approved making this a permanent program earlier this month.

The Township needs to focus on commercial development next. Looking around the community, many recent commercial projects look like they could have used some incentive to help them be designed and built in a more sustainable manner.

1 comment:

mt-pleasant-b said...

I don't have an issue incentizing green construction, my issue is the criteria is based on meeting the insulation value that is arbitrary and a proxy to energy efficiency.

Prescriptive based codes (insulation values) are archaic, Seattle and Vancouver are piloting outcomes based codes.
We should rather be rewarding creativity in design and promoting innovation in energy efficiencies by setting an emissions/energy use target (outcomes based), let the builders figure it out, and rewarding them if and only if they achieve the target after occupancy.
There are no assurances that prescribing and installing 80+ insulation will result in emission/energy efficiencies, so are we really solving the problem there or perpetuating an existing industry?