Launching the Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force Final Report

November 18, 2022

Join us on November 21st as we present our recommendations to Burnaby City Council.

In 2019, Burnaby City Council declared a climate emergency and announced seven “Big Moves” to accelerate climate action. To support action towards “Big Move 7,” zero-emission building retrofits, Burnaby’s Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force (Task Force) met from March to June 2022 with a mandate to make recommendations to Burnaby City Council for “quick starts” and long-term actions to shape Burnaby’s Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Strategy. 

In total, the Task Force produced eight high-priority recommendations and 12 regular-priority recommendations to inform Burnaby’s Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Strategy. Tonight, they will present these recommendations to Burnaby City Council.

You can attend the Burnaby City Council meeting on November 21st at 5:00pm PST at Burnaby City Hall (4949 Canada Way) or virtually through the livestream

Why retrofits?

Buildings are responsible for more than a third of all carbon emissions within Burnaby city limits. Retrofitting will be an essential part of achieving the City of Burnaby’s (the City) commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Carbon reduction modelling for the City’s climate action framework identified that retrofitting existing buildings is the single biggest opportunity to make the emission reductions necessary to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. A transition to low-carbon energy systems will directly reduce community emissions and could account for 34 per cent of all emission reductions.

Eliminating emissions from Burnaby’s 37,000 buildings by 2050 would require an average of 1,400 building retrofits annually over the next 27 years. Among the existing building stock, single-family houses, two-family houses and townhouses in Burnaby are responsible for 38 per cent of total building emissions, while retail and office buildings account for 36 per cent of building emissions. Low-rise and high-rise multi-family buildings are responsible for 10 per cent of building emissions while accounting for 55 per cent of the total units in Burnaby.

City of Burnaby’s carbon emissions and carbon neutral 2050 scenario

Accelerating a low-carbon and energy-efficient future

Prior to developing its recommendations, the Task Force outlined its vision for a low-carbon and energy-efficient future. This included emission reductions at the speed and scale necessary for Burnaby to reach its targets through measures to adopt clean energy sources, increase energy efficiency and support gentle densification. The Task Force vision also calls for centring reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, increasing resilience to climate impacts such as heat waves and wildfire smoke, advancing equity for those most vulnerable to climate impacts as well as for lower-income residents and supporting co-benefits for the community. To catalyze action, the Task Force emphasized efforts to increase communications, tailor approaches to different building contexts, expand the retrofit workforce, reduce complexity, collaborate across governments and measure progress over time.

The City has committed to publicly respond to these recommendations as it develops its Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Strategy, estimated to be ready in spring 2023.

About the Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force

SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue designed and facilitated the Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force in collaboration with the City of Burnaby and Vancity as part of the Urban Resilient Futures Burnaby, an initiative to engage Burnaby residents and stakeholders to accelerate climate action and to co-create a new, locally developed narrative for a resilient, low-carbon future. The Task Force members reflect a range of expertise, perspectives and sectors, including city council, finance, construction and trades, residential and commercial building owners and operators, tenants, individuals reflecting the needs of impacted residents and other relevant stakeholders.