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CleanBC to make government buildings more efficient

Jinny Simms
Jinny Simms

Many government buildings will become smarter and more energy efficient in an effort to tackle climate change, thanks to the province’s new CleanBC Government Buildings Program. Through a combination of energy efficiency, innovative design and renewable building energy systems, the rolling five-year plan will transition courthouses, correctional centres, warehouses and ministry offices into facilities that are 80 per cent more energy efficient by 2050.

“The B.C. government is leading by example and walking the talk when it comes to building a better future for British Columbians,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “The new CleanBC Government Buildings Program will help government facilities consume less energy, reduce emissions, create local jobs and save British Columbians money.”

The program is part of CleanBC, the province’s plan to use more clean and renewable energy, reduce climate pollution and create opportunities for people and businesses around B.C.

Sims announced the program at the Prince George Downtown Renewable Energy System, which uses biomass to heat 10 area buildings. The Prince George Law Courts emit 30 per cent less greenhouse gases after connecting to the system in 2018. Under the program, the courthouse will also receive a new electric vehicle charging station, lighting improvements and retrofits to the heating and ventilation system.

The province is contributing $58 million over the next five years to improve provincial government buildings, including:

  • switching from fossil fuel to clean and renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower;
  • using smart technologies to conserve energy, such as Wi-Fi building sensors to regulate lighting and real-time data displays;
  • installing electric vehicle charging stations;
  • undertaking energy retrofits in existing buildings, such as replacing heating systems and upgrading lighting;
  • building new energy-efficient facilities, using green design and innovative technologies;
  • making buildings more resilient to climate change by relocating and reinforcing equipment to protect against possible floods and wind, installing more HVAC systems and exterior drainage; and
  • creating flexible and modern work environments to support a growing mobile workforce.

“Today’s announcement by the Government of B.C. is a great example of what can be achieved when local and provincial governments work together,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “The city showed leadership seven years ago when it established a downtown energy system that supports local industry and business, which greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Today, this system is the single greatest contributor to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the city. Government has already documented savings of natural gas and carbon offsets worth more than $100,000 from having just two of its buildings connected.”

Along with reducing carbon pollution, the program also supports job creation and continued innovation in the building and technology sectors.

The CleanBC Government Buildings Program targets about 1,000 government buildings, which account for about eight per cent of total provincial public-sector emissions.

By 2021, all new government facilities will include electric vehicle charging stations. For existing buildings, charging stations will be installed where there is demand.

Energy retrofits generally result in a minimum of 25 per cent energy savings. Major energy retrofits, which also include building envelope improvements, could deliver savings of more than 40 per cent.

By 2032, all new buildings in B.C. will be net-zero energy ready. By 2050, the goal is to reduce emissions in core provincial buildings by 80 per cent when compared to 2010 levels.

CleanBC Efficiency Rebates are available for people and businesses to improve their homes and buildings by installing new heating and cooling systems, upgrade major appliances, improve insulation and complete BC Hydro energy-saving evaluations.

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