Buildings contribute 43% of New Westminster’s GHG emissions (2016) and offer one of the largest opportunities to move towards net-zero emissions.
All buildings, including heritage buildings, need to reduce carbon emissions and overall energy demand. Energy and emissions retrofits can substantially reduce energy needs, increase efficiency, and make use of low carbon energy sources. Key ways to do this are by minimizing air leakage, improving insulation and installing high efficiency low carbon energy systems for space heating, water heating and cooking. Preserving the heritage value of buildings and their character-defining elements is also important so retrofits should be carefully planned to protect original materials and heritage features.
Sustainability and Heritage Conservation
Heritage conservation is a key contributor to sustainable communities, connecting to each of the environmental, cultural, social and economic pillars of sustainable development. In New Westminster, heritage buildings and homes are valued for their contribution to unique, characterful neighbourhoods, connections to community histories, and opportunities for economic development. Retaining and retrofitting heritage buildings and homes also reduces deconstruction waste sent to landfills, avoids the need to create new energy-intensive materials, and instead, makes use of valuable, existing resources while lowering energy demands.
Climate resilience includes both mitigation and adaptation – strategies to reduce emissions as well as to ensure the ability to live, and thrive, within a changing climate. Retrofits in heritage buildings and homes can increase their climate resiliency by making it easier to sustain a safe and comfortable living environment. For example, improving insulation and air sealing reduces the overall need for space heating and cooling. Installing low carbon fuel energy systems can improve indoor air quality and, in the case of electric heat pumps, offer the dual service of heating and air conditioning.
Planning a Retrofit for a Heritage Home or Building
Though there are many retrofit options to consider with a variety of products and solutions promoted, some may not be suitable for heritage buildings or other older buildings. To help in prioritizing the best retrofits, it is important to gain information about the building along with advice from Energy Save New West program support, knowledgeable energy advisors and contractors.