(File photo)

As of 2025, the City of Victoria will require all new construction, including single-family homes and residential towers, to be zero carbon producers, meaning they can’t be heated with fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane or fuel oil.

The goal is to cut carbon dioxide emissions from buildings by replacing fossil fuel burning with electric heating.

Victoria council made the decision to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gases in new buildings five years ahead of provincial requirements, to achieve the 2030 goals in its Climate Leadership Plan.

This new requirement will take effect following the introduction of BC Building Code carbon pollution standards later this year.

“Buildings account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas pollution generated in the city,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a media release.

“Each new building will last more than 50 years so raising the bar now is critical to meeting our long-term climate goals, and to preparing the taxpayers of the future to have less climate-related costs down the road.”

Heating, cooling and powering buildings accounts for nearly 70% of emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

These requirements will largely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings, accounting for up to 7% of total community emissions reductions needed by 2050.

Victoria is one of the first municipalities in the province to make all new construction zero carbon polluting and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels for water and space heating.

Saanich and Central Saanich councils are considering a similar move to Victoria.

All three municipalities have had engagement processes with developers and builders, with support from the Capital Regional District.

The new provincial carbon pollution standards give municipalities more effective tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new construction, in addition to the BC Energy Step Code.

The City of Victoria declared a climate emergency in March 2019, and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Buildings are one of four priority areas the city is working with the community to drive down emissions and build a prosperous, low carbon future. The other sectors are mobility, waste and municipal operations.

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