Urban Development Institute executive director Maureen Enser says, "There's some very real questions that need to be answered" if the government wants all new houses and buildings in the province to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. That proposal was part of the non-binding recommendations made by the Campbell administration's climate action team last week. But Ms. Enser, who's organization represents the real estate development industry in British Columbia said, "quite frankly, we don't know if it's achievable."
"Certainly, we want to make sure we're continuously improving" the industry's environmental standards. After all, the institute has been committed to building "sustainable" communities since it's inception. "But the question is how do you get there? And to have a finite timeframe like that, there's a lot of work that has to be done and a lot of questions that need to be answered. It's a good idea - good to have a goal. But we need to do some practical work here before we can say it's doable."
Continued Ms. Ensner, "The practical issues for us is what's the technology going to look like" to make sure all new homes and buildings have net-zero emissions "and who's going to be around to apply it. We have to put training programs in place to provide the industry with a substantial number of individuals who have expertise in this area. So it's not like we can go out and hire people or find the product today. So there's a development time here - a development of people, material and application processes."
The institute has forwarded the climate action team's recommendations to it's environmental committee for review. Ms. Enser expects the committee will respond to those recommendations sometime in the fall. According to The Globe and Mail's Patrick Brethour "building a carbon-neutral house will cost anywhere from 5 per cent to 20 per cent more than conventional models."