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December 11, 2017

How Canadians are constructing North America’s biggest green buildings

In January, tenants will move into a six-storey Vancouver apartment building designed to be so energy efficient, you could heat each bedroom with a 100-watt light bulb.

Boasting a total of 85 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, The Heights at 388 Skeena St. will be the largest “passive house” building in Canada.

But it won’t hold that distinction for long. Others are under construction and many more are at the rezoning stage, including a residence that will house 750 students at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus and two 40-plus highrise towers in Vancouver that aim be the tallest passive house buildings in the world.

Passive houses are green buildings constructed using a set of international design principles and standards that allow them to use up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling than conventional buildings — and produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s of interest to Canadian cities that want to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets and ultimately Canada’s commitment to cutting its emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels as one of the 197 countries that signed onto the 2015 Paris climate change accord.

According to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, buildings generate about 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions linked to human-caused climate change, and 47 per cent of all indirect emissions from electricity and heat production.

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