B.C. awards recognize excellence in climate-friendly building design

The Carbon Leadership Forum British Columbia (CLF British Columbia) volunteer team with Caroline Butchart, CLF British Columbia program manager, ZEBx (seventh from left). Photos courtesy Michael Lee.

British Columbia’s zero-carbon buildings community recently recognized a group of properties demonstrative of leadership in producing minimal carbon pollution from their component materials and during their construction.

The inaugural BC Embodied Carbon Awards, hosted by the Carbon Leadership Forum British Columbia (CLF British Columbia) took place recently. CLF British Columbia, a program area of the Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) and part of the Metro Vancouver Zero Emissions Innovation Centre (ZEIC), is the province’s centre of excellence in low carbon building design.

While most conversations on building emissions largely focus on the pollution they produce during their operation, embodied carbon is generated during the production and transport of their component materials, such as steel and concrete, and those associated with their construction and eventual disposal.

Award winners from Perkins&Will for the 365 Railway project in Vancouver, British Columbia.

According to an August 2022 study conduced in British Columbia’s by Priopta, a company that studies the full climate impact of buildings in the province, the embodied carbon represents up to 46 per cent of a given property’s overall footprint.

In 2019, the city of Vancouver set a goal to reduce embodied carbon in new buildings by 40 per cent by 2030, compared to 2018 levels. Starting in July 2023, the city will start requiring developers to calculate and report embodied carbon in all their new projects.

A crowd of more than 100 attendees packed into the events lounge of Steamworks Brewpub, in Water Street, Vancouver. The awards were introduced by Dr Peter Robinson, chair of Metro Vancouver ZEIC, alongside Vancouver’s councillor Adriane Carr, also a ZEIC board member.

Graphic of Inlet View, Carbonwise, winner in category, “Small Buildings—British Columbia.”

The awards were presented by MLA: Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (Vancouver–Fairview) and Caroline Butchart, CLF British Columbia program manager, ZEBx.

More than 25 organizations sent in entries, with the awards being split into five categories, each with buildings located in Vancouver and in the wider province. Small and large projects were recognized, as well as those organizations and municipalities currently excelling in committing to make the change in reducing embodied emissions.


Small buildings—Vancouver
Third Space Commons, Third Quadrant Design
This project at University of British Columbia’s (UBC’s) campus, with input from a student design team, is a first, using an existing single-family home which will be deconstructed and reuse materials and systems from the original building.

Small buildings—British Columbia
Inlet View, Carbonwise
This is a single-family home where the client went beyond regular construction standards.

Large buildings—Vancouver
365 Railway, Perkins+Will
This is a mass timber addition of four storeys to an existing two-storey concrete building originally built in 1949.

Large buildings—British Columbia
Discover Montessori, Checkwitch Poiron Architects Inc.
This is a project to build a school located in Nanaimo.

Commitment to change—Public, not-for-profit organizations
City of Nelson

Graphic of Discover Montessori, winner in category, “Large Buildings—British Columbia.”

Commitment to change—Private organizations

“These winners are proving that our climate goals are achievable when we put our minds to it, and when the environment and collaboration is placed as a central value to the project. I would encourage anyone who thinks that reducing our carbon footprint is too expensive, or not possible for their project, to take a look at these projects for inspiration. They hold a lot of the answers we’re looking for,” says Caroline Butchart, CLF British Columbia program manager, ZEBx.


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