B.C. launches Reframed Lab pilot for future-ready housing retrofits

The Province of BC, the City of Vancouver, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and the Pembina Institute, are working together on a home-safe initiative called the Reframed Lab.

Leaders in social housing and retrofits attend an Affordable Housing Renewal workshop hosted by the Pembina Institute. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

The pilot program aims to advance innovation in building retrofits on up to five multi-unit residential buildings in order to make existing housing more resilient to climate change and earthquakes.

“The way our homes are built has a direct impact on our health and well-being, and the environment,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “That’s why it’s so important we work together to find new ways to make buildings work better. This partnership will help us take significant action on climate change, while protecting and improving the safe and affordable homes that people need.”

While new homes in B.C. must be built to high health, safety and environmental standards, the Pembina Institute states that there are significant opportunities to make existing buildings better places to live and reduce the energy they use.

This summer, BC Housing will issue a request for proposals for partners to join the Reframed Lab. Partners from all corners of the construction sector, including architects, contractors, engineers and manufacturers, will come together to integrate ways to retrofit existing buildings. Selected teams will be invited to join a six-month exploration lab to learn and share ideas.

Teams will prepare designs for a specific building, with support from experts on climate change, energy and health. Their goal will be to demonstrate next-generation solutions that integrate seismic and fire safety, energy efficiency and climate-adaptation upgrades, while dramatically reducing the buildings’ carbon pollution.

BC Housing will support the retrofit of the selected buildings with funding from the Capital Renewal Fund, a 10-year, $1.1-billion investment to preserve and improve B.C.’s 51,000 units of social housing.

This initiative received $250,000 from the Province’s CleanBC Building Innovation (CBBI) Fund. The CBBI Fund has provided $1.65 million to manufacturers, developers, builders and researchers to accelerate the availability and affordability of advanced building designs, construction methods and technologies that are super efficient and have minimal greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime.

The City of Vancouver will be providing technical and regulatory guidance to help support this work, which will help advance the city’s climate goals as well as housing affordability.

CleanBC supports the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement to implement climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets.

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