New Pilot Program Offers Funding to Retrofit Market Rental Buildings

July 18, 2023

The City of Vancouver has launched the Rental Apartment Retrofit Accelerator (RARA) pilot program to future-proof existing rental buildings, making them more resilient to the impacts of climate change, while improving energy efficiency, increasing indoor comfort and decreasing emissions with minimal impacts to tenants.

“Collaborating with other levels of government and partners is key to making housing more resilient to extreme weather events,” says Mayor Ken Sim. “By upgrading our existing rental buildings, we’re prioritizing safety, health and comfort while making Vancouver’s housing stock more energy efficient.”

Funded by the City in partnership with CleanBC and BCHydro, and administered through LandlordBC, the RARA program has $3.5 million in grant funds available for owners of market rental buildings to undertake critical energy retrofit upgrades, including building electrification and fuel-switching using new heat pump technology. Findings from the pilot program will inform future investment in Vancouver’s existing rental stock while maintaining stable tenancies.

“Our government’s goal is to make homes as energy efficient, comfortable and affordable as possible, to use less energy and to reduce the environmental impact of existing buildings,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “We are pleased to partner with the City of Vancouver to help with the upfront costs that come with home energy retrofits so people can benefit from greater energy efficiency.”

Rental Apartment Retrofit Accelerator benefits include

  • Retrofitting and electrifying Vancouver’s existing buildings with air source heat pumps will add cooling and create healthier, more comfortable and safer living spaces during extreme heat and forest fire smoke events. 
  • Upgrading space heating, water heating and ventilation to low carbon and more energy efficient versions will improve comfort and may reduce operational costs. 
  • Assisting building owners with the tools to plan for other building retrofits and monitoring ongoing energy consumption will support future upgrades. 
  • Technical and administrative support along with clear expectations for landlords to effectively retrofit buildings will minimize impacts on residents and maintain stable tenancies. 

Earlier this year, City council also directed staff to establish an incentive-based program that targets existing and older multi-family buildings, with the objective of reducing emissions and also providing cooling. This direction helped catalyze additional partnerships and funding for the RARA program.

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