High-impact partnership targets deep energy and emissions retrofits of Greater Victoria buildings

An aerial photo of Greater Victoria, with snow-capped mountains in the background.
Ten property managers and owners are responsible for the 36 buildings in Greater Victoria.

2021 January – Researchers at the University of Victoria are playing a key role in a partnership aimed at halving greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels among 36 high-profile buildings in Greater Victoria by 2030.

A UVic Civil Engineering team will provide expert advice to 10 property managers, which include Mayfair and Uptown malls, Saanich Commonwealth Place and the Victoria Conference Centre.

The Greater Victoria 2030 District logo includes black and green text

Called the Greater Victoria 2030 District, the partnership was officially announced Jan. 12 by the Building Owners and Managers Association BC (BOMA BC), with partners as diverse as multinational property managers and owners, Victoria-based companies, and the municipalities of Victoria and Saanich.

Greater Victoria is the second Canadian community to gain the distinction of being included in the 2030 Districts Network. The network’s vision supports high-performance building districts to unite communities in transforming the built environment and the role it plays in climate change. Specifically, the network aims to meet 50-per-cent reductions in energy, water and transportation-related emissions by 2030. Along with Greater Victoria and Toronto, the network includes 21 U.S. centres.

The UVic team, which received support from the CleanBC Building Innovation Fund, is providing expertise to the initiative by calculating energy and emission baselines and reduction targets, along with suggesting optimal ways to reach those targets.

“We have some of Canada’s leading property managers involved and we’ll put forward solutions that they can validate in actual projects over the next nine years,” said Andrew Pape-Salmon, a part-time adjunct professor who is working with Assistant Professor Ralph Evins and two grad students on the project.

“We’re not a consultant looking at a single building, we’re researchers looking at optimizing the designs for retrofitting about 30 buildings of diverse sizes, occupancies and ownership,” he said. “So, we’ll be able to draw some generalizations and conclusions that we hope will contribute to long-term changes in the National Building Code and lead to state-of-the-art solutions for the market.”

The BOMA BC-led initiative supports voluntary leadership among property managers to advance energy-efficient, low-carbon and resilient buildings in a way that also contributes to the local economy. The Greater Victoria 2030 District will stimulate investment in retrofits and the “future-proofing” of buildings, contributing to a greener and more sustainable local economy.

“This collaboration will play a key role in ensuring Greater Victoria builds back better from COVID-19, by uncovering ways we can advance building resiliency, and reduce our impacts on climate change,” said BOMA BC President Damian Stathonikos.

Membership in the larger 2030 Districts Network requires communities to sign on a specific number of property managers. Members benefit from access to group learning, technical support and services aimed at overcoming market barriers to green and resilient building innovations. Although Greater Victoria just recently qualified for membership, the group was active throughout 2020 preparing for inclusion in the network.

For example, Kevin Cant, a member of the UVic research team, has been providing custom benchmarking to property managers on where their buildings currently stand and where they are relative to peers. Once baselines for buildings are established, he and other members of the research team will begin using novel techniques to identify the best ways for the property managers to reach their 50-per-cent consumption targets.

“The 10 owners and managers are leading the way and their investments will improve their buildings, reduce energy and emissions, and enable our research team to apply state-of-the-art solutions,” said Cant, who is working on a Master of Science in Civil Engineering.

“Being able to partner with them is fantastic because it means our research will help lead to real, measurable change.”

Read the BOMA BC news release

Interested property managers and owners operating in Victoria and Saanich can learn more about joining the Greater Victoria 2030 District at the 2030 Districts website.

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