Cities across B.C. have seen promising levels of participation in FortisBC’s Rental Apartment Program, which encourages energy-efficient upgrades for older apartment buildings.
According to FortisBC, there are approximately 11,000 older apartment buildings in B.C. that provide residents with affordable housing. However, the costs for utilities and maintenance in the older buildings are high and the emissions from old equipment are harmful to the environment.
Danielle Wensink, director of conservation and energy management at FortisBC, noted that almost 80 per cent of these older apartment buildings in B.C. were built more than 35 years ago and therefore had lower efficiency standards to meet.
As upgrade costs can be a barrier, in 2015 FortisBC announced it’s rental program which sought to install energy-saving measures in at no cost to building owners. The program also supports owners in upgrading other aging building equipment. Since 2015, 800 buildings have been upgraded.
Saanich was ranked third in the province for participation after having 28 of its apartment buildings receive upgrades. Victoria saw 90 of its 900 apartment buildings participate in the program, Kelowna had 36 of 300 buildings sign up, and 275 of Vancouver’s 5,300 apartment buildings joined in.
“Building owners who work with us show a real commitment to keeping these buildings in the rental market and are reducing their energy costs by an average of 12 per cent per year,” said Nicole Brown, a FortisBC spokesperson. “They’re also making substantial emission and water reductions, which help achieve climate action goals.”
FortisBC is investing in energy efficient upgrades in an effort to reduce customers’ carbon emissions in B.C. by 30 per cent 2030.
“The results so far are substantial, and have proved very beneficial for participating owners, especially those who are investing in further upgrades,” said Wensink.
The upgrades done in the past four years have saved the equivalent of about 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools or running a garden hose non-stop for over 20 years.
The upgrades made in older apartment buildings could reduce carbon emissions in B.C. by about 200,000 tonnes per year, which FortisBC said is the equivalent of getting 43,000 cars off the road.