Mayor Gregor Robertson and his city council is on the right track to be looking at amendments to make developing green buildings easier. Here’s a Q&A taken from the city’s website:
Q: What changes to bylaws is Council supporting?A: Relaxing building heights to allow for renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels, on roofs, and to provide access to green roofs.
Relaxing side yard and overhang requirements for fixed passive solar shading outside.
Allowing thicker walls that will have better insulation standards.
Q: Is there further consultation with the public?
A: Yes, staff will report back after further consultation with stakeholders in 2009 on:
- providing opportunities for larger shaded external balconies and reviewing the current enclosed balcony exclusion and Guidelines.
- providing opportunities to allow exclusions for at-grade waste storage facilities.
Q: What is the goal of these changes?
A: The changes are meant to remove or mitigate existing disincentives to greener building design practices. A number of current City regulations limit the use of green building approaches – particularly in the ways in which floor space is counted and how the allowable height/size of a building is determined. Allowing some flexibility on particular issues in the By-law will reduce barriers to using better building practices.
Q: Do these changes reduce our ecological footprint?
A: As part of the EcoDensity charter, they are important factors in reducing the city’s ecological footprint. Building practices have a significant effect on carbon emissions. Making green building practices easier, moves Vancouver toward goals such as carbon neutral new construction. The new Green Homes Program has given Vancouver North America’s highest environmental standards for single family homes.