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B.C. looks at retrofits to improve social housing

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British Columbia is looking to the retrofit market as a way to improve its social housing. Retrofit demonstration projects on up to five multi-unit residential buildings will be able to apply for the Reframed Lab initiative.

The province, through BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, and the Pembina Institute are working together on the program.

B.C. will issue a request for proposals for partners to join the Reframed Lab. This will go out to architects, contractors, engineers, and manufacturers. Selected teams will be invited to join a six-month exploration lab to learn and share ideas.

Teams will prepare designs for a specific building, with support from experts on climate change, energy, and health. Their goal will be to demonstrate “next-generation solutions” that integrate seismic and fire safety, energy efficiency and climate-adaptation upgrades, while dramatically reducing the buildings’ carbon pollution.

“While new homes in B.C. must be built to a high health, safety, and environmental standard, there are significant opportunities to make existing buildings better places to live and reduce the energy they use,” reports the Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) in a press release. “Building retrofits also create good, long-term jobs for people in the province and support the growth of B.C.’s sustainable economy.”

BC Housing will support the retrofit of the selected buildings with funding from the Capital Renewal Fund, a 10-year, $1.1 billion investment to preserve and improve B.C.’s 51,000 units of social housing.

This initiative received $250,000 from the province’s CleanBC Building Innovation (CBBI) Fund. The fund has provided $1.65 million to manufacturers, developers, builders, and researchers to accelerate the availability of advanced building designs, construction methods, and technologies.

The City of Vancouver will provide technical and regulatory guidance. For more information, visit www.reframedinitiative.org.

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