BC utility program helps apartment owners upgrade buildings for better efficiency


When installing a high efficiency furnace, if there is a gas water heater some consideration must be given on how to vent it. (Photos courtesy of ClimateCare)

Energy efficiency upgrades in older apartment buildings have the potential to reduce carbon emissions in British Columbia by about 200,000 tonnes annually, the equivalent of removing 43,000 gasoline-powered cars from the road, reports Fortis BC.

In 2015, the natural gas utility introduced a rental apartment program aimed at installing energy-saving measures directly into suites and common areas on behalf of the owners at no cost. The program also provides owners with financial support when upgrading the building’s mechanical equipment, including the replacement of ageing inefficient boiler systems and DHW heaters with higher efficiency equivalents. More than 800 buildings or 30,000 units across B.C. have been upgraded.

“Rental apartments are so important in our communities, and our early research showed almost 80 per cent of apartments in B.C. were built more than 35 years ago to lower efficiency standards than exist today,” said Danielle Wensink, Fortis director of conservation and energy management. “Lowering energy use in these buildings is critical.”

The basic upgrades alone reduce domestic hot water energy use by an average of about 12 per cent per year. The water savings as of 2019 have reached the equivalent of filling close to 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools or running a garden hose non-stop for over 20 years, Fortis officials maintain.

To date, the program has saved around $2 million in utility costs and 283,000 gigajoules of natural gas and 274,000 kWh of electricity for the building owners.

FortisBC offers natural gas, propane and thermal energy solutions.


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