Design

Reframed Lab picks six design teams for retrofit projects

BC’s Reframed Lab, a program launched to investigate innovative approaches to green building retrofits, has selected teams to perform renovations on six buildings across the province.

Six design teams will develop retrofit designs for six low- to mid-rise social housing buildings in Kamloops, Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Vancouver and Victoria.

The lab is a partnership between the province, BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC), the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and the Pembina Institute.

The teams will share ideas on cutting carbon pollution. These include heat pumps, heat-recovery systems, reducing energy demand, bolstering climate resilience and low-carbon materials. The teams will also integrate techniques for seismic upgrades and onsite solar generation.

The buildings’ tenants will not be displaced from their homes during renovations as most of the work will be on the buildings’ exteriors. Work is scheduled to begin in fall 2022.

“Reducing emissions from buildings is critically important,” said George Heyman, BC minister of environment and climate change strategy. “Many people think about the design and performance of new buildings, but we have a huge building stock. In BC some of it is older and was built with different standards. Replacing it isn’t pragmatic and may not even be the best use of money.”

Much of the new technology being developed for deep retrofits can be applied to the building envelope without disturbing residents and achieve multiple goals at the same time. These goals include providing safe housing, cutting energy costs and reducing emissions.

Heyman said the province has taken notice of retrofit programs undertaken in Europe that have fostered the development of new technologies and techniques to reduce emissions and make buildings more comfortable.

“It’s natural for people in construction to go with what they know, so when designers and developers are eager to try new things, that helps the whole sector and helps everybody,” he said.

Heyman underscored the building sector is going to be vital for the future of addressing housing and climate change needs.

“The construction industry is absolutely critical,” said Heyman. “There is a role for government and housing associations to show the way to make investments, but we know the scale of housing and construction that has to happen. It needs to be supported and it needs to make economic sense. We are looking for private developers who are ambitious about new technology and techniques.”

The province is supporting the design and capital costs of the project through funding from the Capital Renewal Fund, a 10-year, $1.1-billion investment tasked with preserving and improving BC’s 51,000 units of social housing. The CleanBC Building Innovation fund will contribute $460,000.

The City of Vancouver will be providing technical and regulatory guidance to support the work and the other respective cities where the projects are taking place have agreed to give regulatory support.

The design teams, assigned buildings and locations for the Reframed Lab program include:

  • Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.: Crossroads Inn, Kamloops, operated by ASK Wellness Society
  • Evoke Buildings Engineering: Le Chateau, Coquitlam, operated by MVHC
  • Williams Engineering Canada: Crown Manor, New Westminster, operated by MVHC
  • Morrison Hershfield: Manor House, North Vancouver, operated by MVHC
  • Entuitive: Dany Guincher Place, Vancouver, operated by Tikva Housing Society
  • Low Hammond Rowe Architects: Medewiwin, Victoria, operated by Pacifica Housing

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