CKNW Energy Series: Phasing out non-renewable natural gas

By Janet Brown, CKNW News.

Today on CKNW‘s Energy Series, Janet Brown and Jon Hall look into the City of Vancouver’s adoption of the ‘Zero Emissions Building Plan’ and one of its various steps to reduce emissions in new buildings by 2030: eliminating non-renewable natural gas.

Doug Smith is a director of sustainability for the City of Vancouver, and he says the idea isn’t exactly that simple.

“It is not the goal, necessarily, to eliminate all natural gas. The goal is more in line with reducing greenhouse gases significantly. There’s some misinformation out there about how we’re moving away from natural gas and how we’re reducing our greenhouse gases. The reality is we’re looking at conservation and efficiency, first and foremost. The vast majority of what we’re doing is reducing the amount of energy we’re going to need to run the city. Whether that’s vehicles or whether that’s homes or buildings: it’s a reduction in energy.”

Is the city of Vancouver basing this on a model in another Canadian city or somewhere else in the world?

“We’ve hired a company called ‘Navius’ to do our modeling for Vancouver, and it’s the same company both the federal government and provincial government use for their energy modeling. In fact, I believe some of the natural gas providers use them as well.”

Smith says this modeling has showed the city that there are many different paths to get towards an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases.

“The paths that we’ve done don’t necessarily mean that’ll be exactly the path that we take, but we know it’s possible and it’s technically feasible. What we’re doing is actually a little bit behind the times. If you go to Europe, pretty well the standard building code in Europe is ‘Passive House,’ which is a building that needs almost no energy to stay warm in the winter. That’s eventually where all of North America’s gonna go, and the sooner cities like Vancouver can get there the more cost-effective that change will be, and the more economic benefit we’ll derive there.”