New data from FortisBC reveals the fiscal impact of making older apartments more sustainable
By Megan Hoegler
VANCOUVER— FortisBC has released emissions and energy use data showing that simple energy efficiency upgrades in older apartment buildings can greatly reduce carbon emissions.
The results, announced on November 12, show energy savings equivalent to removing 43,000 gasoline-powered cars off the road as well as a potential reduction of provincial carbon emissions by about 200,000 tonnes per year.
FortisBC estimates there are over 11,000 older rental apartment buildings in B.C. But poor energy efficiency performance makes them less appealing to owners.
“Our 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 for FortisBC, in a release. “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 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 in B.C. At this time, the program has saved an estimated $2 million in utility costs.
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.
“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, CEO of LandlordBC, in a release. “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.”
FortisBC is currently looking for more ways to help building owners by targeting support in the communities with the highest number of rental apartment buildings such as Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.