Sustainability for All

June 6th Update:

The Mayor’s motion  recommends a higher and better use for the land currently proposed for a surface parking lot in Central Park.  The motion recommends that the City seek partners for the provision and operation of a community centre with affordable housing atop and underground parking.  The land value, or air rights transferred to the housing provider by way of a long term lease, will allow the City to negotiate for the community centre amenity and underground parking option.

The Mayor’s motion does not, however, address this recommendation in its entirety as it does not make mention of the energy and greenhouse gas performance levels or sustainable transportation measures to be adhered by this project. We continue to advocate for exemplary leadership in sustainability in both the recreation centre and the newly proposed community centre and housing. 

Given the ownership and operating structure of the two buildings, and the availability of capital grants, any premium on building to net zero energy will be more than offset by minimizing utility costs over the life of these assets.  Utilities are the most significant operating cost in housing and community centres, and the second highest cost after salaries in recreation centres.  Operating expenses will be borne by non-profit service providers and through property taxes so minimizing utility charges and protecting against rate increases over the buildings’ 50 year lives should be prioritized.

Recommendation 3:

A commitment to exemplary leadership in climate, energy, and environment, including sustainable mobility and park preservation.

Council makes a commitment to showing exemplary leadership in climate, energy, and environment through sustainable development and mobility and park preservation by:

a) Committing to building a net zero energy and 100% renewable energy building

b) Directing Facilities and Sustainable Asset Management staff to commission professional energy modelling of the facility design in order to optimize its energy efficiency through thermal performance of the building envelope including placement of glazing, and through mechanical system design incorporating renewable heat and cooling technologies and solar, if appropriate.

c) Directing Parking Services and Transportation staff to recommend a new parking solution that places a priority on park preservation and encourages sustainable mobility choices (discourages personal vehicle use).

Modelling Net Zero Energy Buildings + 100% Renewable Energy

In 2017, Council adopted two long term climate action targets for the community – 100% Renewable Energy and 80% GHG reductions by 2050. The draft Climate Leadership Plan commits to showing exemplary leadership in sustainability from municipal operations (both facilities and fleet).

In April 2018, Council approved using Step 3 of the Province’s Energy Step Code beginning in 2020 which means all new buildings must undergo energy modelling during designed and be constructed to achieve net zero energy code compliance. Buildings prior to 2020 will be required to meet Step 1 of the code which requires energy modelling and evidence of current code compliance as it relates to building envelope tightness and thermal performance. New developments, prior to 2020, will also be encouraged to early adopt higher levels of the new Step Code.

The Crystal Pool is the single greatest GHG generator of all municipal operations, accounting for 20% of total GHGs from municipal facilities and fleet and costing $250K annually for natural gas and electricity. The new facility and mechanical systems will naturally be more efficient than the existing 1967 Cleaver Brooks boilers, but the new buildings is significantly larger than the existing building, and has far more surface area of water. From an energy perspective this means the new facility will have higher pool and space heating needs as well as significant corresponding ventilation needs to manage humidity related to the aquatics area. After staffing costs, utilities are the second largest operating cost for aquatic centres.  An all-electric building is low carbon, but could also be more costly operationally. Electricity in BC is expected to be a more costly energy source to natural gas for the foreseeable future, even with an increasing carbon tax. Committing to energy efficient design with emphasis on the building envelope, and on-site or district waste heat recovery and renewable energy generation will provide the greatest long term cost savings from utilities for this facility which is the City’s most energy-intensive facility and greatest single energy load.

Modern Public Parking

The facility is sited on a transit corridor (Quadra) and a future AAA bike network (Vancouver).  500+ City-owned parking spaces exist at Save On and Royal Athletic Park directly across the street, and two blocks away, respectively.  With the exception of handicapped parking and drop off, there is no justification for providing surface parking in lieu of green space on this site.  See recommendation #2 for discussion and map showing parking lot prevalence in the neighbourhoods surrounding Central Park.

The City charges for parking in all the parkades and lots it manages. Variable pricing is used for different times of day, user groups, and lengths of stay. An example of this variable pricing is the first hour free pricing in parkades where affordable access is considered necessary to ensure downtown remains an attractive option for shoppers.

The strategy of charging user fees for parking:

  • provides revenues for the maintenance of these assets. These revenues pay for security in City parkades and lots and the maintenance of these parking facilities. The presence of security guards in these facilities are necessary if they are to be an attractive option for some users at certain hours of day (i.e. women and seniors).
  • pays for the delivery of the City’s core services and reduces the amount of the City’s operating budget that needs to come from property taxes levied on Victoria residents and businesses.
  • ensures adequate turnover and availability of parking spaces, and discourages the personal use of vehicles in places in favour of more sustainable mobility choices.