Join us

Organizations in B.C. receive funding for green building initiatives that reduce environmental impact

Organizations in B.C. receive funding for green building initiatives that reduce environmental impact

May 22, 2012 Vancouver, B.C. – Vancity and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. today announced a total of $200,000 in grants through their Green Building Grant Program for green building initiatives that will help improve the environment and build upon sustainable land-use practices in British Columbia.

“By making their own facilities more sustainable, Green Building Grant recipients are contributing to healthier, more resilient B.C. communities,” says Jack Wong, Real Estate Foundation CEO. “I would like to thank these groups for inspiring all of us to employ greener solutions.”

In Canada, buildings account for 33 per cent of energy consumption, 50 per cent of natural resources consumption, and more than 10 per cent of non-industrial water use. Since 2004, the Green Building Grant program, which was created by Vancity and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C., has distributed more than $1 million to charitable organizations, co-operatives, and other not-for-profit organizations and to help reduce the environmental impact of their buildings.

“We are committed to investing in projects that advance and encourage energy efficiency and green building design,” says Andy Broderick, Vancity’s vice president of Community Investment. “We congratulate these organizations for reducing their environmental footprint and helping to build healthy and vibrant communities, not just for today, but for future generations.”

The 2012 grant recipients are:

  • ASRi Research Society, Victoria - $21,000
  • Cowichan Green Community Society, North Cowichan - $38,000
  • Cowichan Station Area Association, Cowichan - $10,000
  • Groundswell Network Society, Invermere - $26,000
  • Howe Sound Curling Club, Squamish - $25,000
  • Society for Organic Urban Land Care, Victoria - $30,000
  • Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, Vancouver - $20,000
  • Village of Granisle, Granisle - $30,000

The Green Building Grant Program funds building renovations and retrofits to existing buildings, regulatory changes that advance green building development, and education that inspires new green building initiatives by providing models, tools and information for the public and other practitioners.

About the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. The Real Estate Foundation of B.C. is a pivotal connector on land use and real estate issues, providing funding and information to organizations working to enable positive change in B.C. communities. By supporting progressive solutions, the foundation’s work contributes to resilient, healthy communities and natural environments. Since 1988, we have approved more than $60 million in grants to support sustainable real estate and land use practices for the benefit of British Columbians. To learn more about the foundation, visit

About Vancity At Vancity we make you good money by putting money to good. Vancity’s vision of redefining wealth incorporates personal and community well-being. Vancity has distributed $221 million to members through dividends and to communities through grants and community investment initiatives since 1994. We are a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values – a network of the world’s leading sustainable banks sharing the commitment to achieving triple-bottom-line impact through responsible banking practices. A Living Wage employer, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union, with $16.1 billion in assets, more than 479,500 members and 59 branches throughout Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. More information about Vancity is available at


Real Estate Foundation of B.C.
Celina Owen
604.688.6800 ext 103

Lorraine Wilson

Backgrounder: Green Building Grants 2012

The Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and Vancity approved eight Green Building Grants totaling $200,000 in spring 2012. The following are summaries of the funded projects.

ASRi Research Society
Efforts to integrate natural building materials and other alternative building systems in homes and commercial buildings are hindered by a lack of inclusion in the current B.C. Building Code. ASRi Research Society will produce the Alternative Solutions Resource (ASR), a manual that offers regionally appropriate information on alternative building materials and systems, such as strawbale, thermal mass, and grey water systems. The manual will help facilitate the use of natural and alternative building practices in B.C. both by offering reliable information and by contributing to the extensive research currently required by building authorities to prove the feasibility of alternative designs through the Alternative Solutions process. The information contained within the ASR manual will be made readily available to all members of the building community, including approving authorities. More widespread adoption of alternative building practices will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate local economies, and increase housing affordability.

Cowichan Green Community Society
Using green technology and alternative building materials, Cowichan Green Community Society is re-purposing a derelict, non-functional municipal building in North Cowichan’s Kinsmen Neighborhood Public Park to establish the Youth Green Classroom. The retrofitted building will provide schools, community organizations, businesses, contractors, and builders with a demonstration facility offering educational programming and information on green building design, green technology, alternative food production (such as vertical farming) and food security. It will be a model for innovative use of community space. Youth will be actively engaged in the project design, construction and educational opportunities. They will receive training and gain valuable experience in leadership, community skill building, marketing and communications, green building skills, and working with video. The youth’s experiences and video clips will be shared across social media networks to provide resources for others on how to go green and how to create a similar model at their own schools.

Cowichan Station Area Society
The Greening “The Hub” Community Centre is an organized effort by the Cowichan Station Area Association to retrofit the historic Cowichan Station School (built in 1913), which was shut down five years ago. The goal is to provide the community with a multi-purpose community centre/hub for arts and culture, education, recreation, and small business uses. The project is focusing on green building throughout each stage of the project, from the initial assessment to the post construction audit. The project intends to reduce the community’s carbon footprint by retrofitting existing energy systems and upgrading windows and lights. With the help of an instructor from Vancouver Island University, the project team will produce an educational toolkit that includes cost versus savings data, lessons learned, and CO2 outcomes of the project. This toolkit will be shared with organizations with targeted roles in green building such as GreenCity Victoria, Lighthouse Sustainable Building Centre, Cascadia Green Building Council, and the UBC Sustainable Building Science program.

Groundswell Network Society
Since commencing operation of the award winning, low energy-use, solar heated, water conserving educational greenhouse in 2009, Invermere’s Groundswell Network Society has identified a number of opportunities to enhance its green building systems. It has also received a plethora of requests from other communities interested in emulating its success. Through their Community Greenhouse Upgrades and Enhanced Program Delivery project, they will undertake these enhancements and also develop new education and communications tools to assist other communities. Thermal blanket insulation, solar energy, heat recovery, and rainwater harvesting are among the improvements to be made. The reductions in CO2 will be monitored using built-in equipment that can accurately track reduction volumes. Groundswell Network Society will showcase its findings to a wider audience through online distribution, print, workshops, and audio/video presentations.

Howe Sound Curling Club
The Howe Sound Curling Club plans to green the joint community building that houses itself, the Squamish Valley Golf Club, and the Squamish Squash Club. Through a Combined Heat and Power Project, they aim to double the efficiency of the existing plant and reduce operating costs by half by replacing a 47 year-old ammonia ice making unit and Freon gas technology heat pumps with a more efficient energy system. The new system will enable them to store and re-use the waste heat from ice-making operations to heat the building and provide hot water for the facility. A solar hot water heating system will be installed to help top up any shortfall. A water usage and waste management strategy will complement these efforts. The club will document its experiences from this project to produce a green building case study that will be disseminated amongst other community recreational facilities.

Society for Organic Urban Land Care
The Society of Organic Urban Land (SOUL) Care has made it their mission to promote and support organic practices among professionals and communities through education, certification, and standardization. To implement new policies and regulations for organic land care, SOUL Care is engaging a broad audience of green building certifying bodies and land care industries in a review and update of the current SOUL Organic Land Care Standard. As part of its educational outreach plans, SOUL Care will make presentations to regional and provincial bodies, and participate in green building conferences, to introduce the Standard and present related policy options to support sustainable development and land use. Importantly, the society will encourage the inclusion of the environment surrounding a building in calculations for a green building’s environmental impact. By including the surrounding landscape in green building assessments, and implementing SOUL Care’s standards and practices, building developers, owners and managers can provide for increased carbon sequestration, reduced pollution, reduced land fill impacts, and sustainable food production.

Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall
A downtown Vancouver heritage building is undergoing a “greening renovation” to become a leading edge childcare centre and interpretive centre for the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall. This includes renovating structural elements rather than rebuilding, collecting rainwater from gutters, solar thermal heating, and energy and water efficient appliances. Greening will also be incorporated in the curriculum with an organic rooftop garden, onsite composting, lessons in closed loop recycling, and community Green Zone initiatives. In order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the renovation, the organization will monitor energy usage before and after completion, and will have an on-site “Live Screen” that shows savings in energy costs through solar energy generated. They hope that the project will be a model for other organizations with similar aspirations.

Village of Granisle
After being identified as the ideal test site for an energy and building retrofit in the 2011 Community Energy Plan, the Granisle Fire Hall Renovation project aims to lower energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use. To reach this goal a new biomass/energy boiler will be installed as the primary heating source in the Fire Hall, which currently has the highest propane usage of all community facilities. Extensive reinsulating of the roof and installation of energy efficient windows, doors, and weather stripping are also planned. The project will be an ideal demonstration to spur more widespread retrofits across the Village of Granisle community and other small northern communities working to develop attainable projects to meet BC Climate Action Goals.