Vancouver - Vancouver Neighbourhood Energy Strategy


The context for the project is the City's Greenest City Action Plan. Energy used for the heating of buildings generates more than 50% of the CO2 emissions in the City, and NESs provide a cost-effective platform to significantly reduce this.

Key challenges include:

(1) Current very low cost of fossil fuels, which low-carbon NES must compete with: the City has established a number of enabling policies for NESs to be more cost effective and competitive. 

(2) Potential public opposition to low carbon technologies: The City undertook an extensive stakeholder consultation process and established the Energy Centre Guidelines, which ensures that new low carbon systems are designed to address key issues of concern 

(3) Lack of utility providers: to address this, the City undertook competitive selection processes to establish geographically-based private sector utility franchises. 


The approach is highly innovative, including mapping analysis to identify target NES areas, a structured consultation process to establish the Energy Centre Guidelines and a franchising process to establish NES utility providers. The City's approach for leveraging private sector expertise and investment results in minimal financial exposure for the City government.

The Vancouver Neighbourhood Energy Strategy seeks to eliminate 120,000 tonnes of CO2 annually by 2020: 11% of the city-wide target of 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 per year. These reductions are achieved through the elimination of the use of fossil fuels and electricity for the heating of buildings. This reduction will be achieved through: 

  • low-carbon conversion of existing steam heat systems (95,000 tonnes per year CO2)
  • establishment of new NES networks (25,000 tonnes per year CO2)

This initiative generates employment activity related to the construction ($230M invested by 2020) and operation of NES networks as well as building local capacity in the consulting and construction sectors. NESs provide a platform to enable local resource recovery, including solid waste residues (e.g., wood chips) and recovery of waste heat from sewers and cooling systems, helping to improve local air quality through fossil-fuel reductions. 

Projected Outcomes

Vancouver has taken the unusual step of sharing its information fully with other cities, including consultant studies, financial models, building standards/guidelines, franchise agreement contracts and other materials. This information has been of significant benefit to numerous local and international jurisdictions. Vancouver is the chair of the C40 District Energy Network and hosted a C40 District Energy Committee workshop in May 2015, with facility tours and presentations on NES experiences. The city has shared case studies, reports, policy and other material through the broader C40 network and UNEP. Finally, Vancouver has convened a regional working group, which includes seven regional municipalities, the international airport authority, local utility providers, regulators and two large universities, meeting four times per year to share information and experiences to aid in the establishment of new NESs in the region.