Two Esquimalt councillors want the township to look into officially moving away from burning fossil fuels as a source of heat in new projects.
Couns. Ken Armour and Tim Morrison will bring a motion forward at a future meeting asking staff to report on the possibility of requiring that all new construction use low carbon energy systems.
The councillors, in a notice of motion, say the township won’t meet its emission reduction targets through improving energy efficiency alone, and the community needs to switch to systems like heat pumps instead of burning coal, oil or gas. The officials say the B.C. building Step Code establishes a framework for reducing energy use in new buildings but doesn’t explicitly address greenhouse gas emissions from structures.
Building emissions are the Capital Region’s second-most prolific emission source, sitting only behind transportation. Pollution coming from buildings has also been rising in recent years. The most recent accounting has natural gas and heating oil accounting for two-thirds of the total emissions from residential buildings, with 20 per cent coming from electricity use.
Armour and Morrison noted Esquimalt staff have, in most cases, already been rejecting development permit applications that include gas despite the absence of a bylaw. Their motion said any bylaw made would still need some flexibility where gas or propane could be hooked up for ancillary requirements, just not for heating or cooling.
The councillors said there are several benefits beyond emission reductions to switching to options like heat pumps. They say it eliminates the need for costly retrofits in the future; stimulates clean technology, businesses and jobs; and provides cooling in the summer.
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