Renovating Vancouver, one green step at a time

A photo gallery of local home and business renovations.

Credit: Light House Sustainable Building Centre

From private residences to small businesses, Light House’s latest green building initiative is making a difference

Vancouver’s Light House Sustainable Building Centre is an enterprising non-profit dedicated to advancing and catalyzing sustainability in British Columbia’s built environment. They offer a range of free and fee-based programs and services out of their newly renovated resource and exhibition centre at 2060 Pine Street.

One of Light House’s current initiatives is the 2010 Green Building Challenge. Focused on 10 projects ranging from family homes to strata councils and small businesses, these groups have received free technical assistance over the past year to help green their buildings. This has included five days of technical assistance from a green building professional and 240 hours of research and assistance from professional interns like me. A few of these projects have focused on new construction while others have centred on renovations to existing buildings. The overall aim has been for the projects to meet a stringent set of energy, water and waste reduction targets.

This month, to mark the end of the Green Building Challenge and highlight some of the many successes, the Light House Sustainable Building Centre will host tours, workshops and feature case studies from the challenge. The public is invited to come and see the achievements of the challenge projects and learn how these groups reached their targets.

The site tours and workshops start this weekend and run all month. For a full schedule of the workshops, visit the 2010 Green Building Challenge website.


Sneak peek: 2010 Green Building Challenge

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the renovations and new buildings constructed through the challenge. Tell us what you think of the projects in the comment section below.


Kerchum Residence, Vancouver

A newly constructed home with a passive solar design and orientation that allows for minimal heating requirements in the winter and no cooling system in the summer.


Kerchum Residence, Vancouver

An inside shot of the passive solar home. The newly built living room features locally sourced and built millwork (e.g., window bench, wall cabinets, TV surround, etc.) made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood. The orange couch is also FSC certified.

green roof

Babicki-Moore Residence, North Vancouver

This green roof was installed on an existing family home that was gutted and rebuilt. In addition to creating a pleasant space for the residents, the green roof will help reduce energy costs for cooling the home, assist with storm water management, increase the lifetime of the roof membrane and provide some sound insulation.

rooftop panels

Babicki-Moore Residence, North Vancouver

These rooftop panels are part of a solar hot water system, which takes advantage of the clean, renewable and free energy from the sun to provide domestic hot water.

dual-flush toilets

Babicki-Moore Residence, North Vancouver

Dual-flush and low flow toilets like this one help reduce a household’s annual water consumption considerably. A standard toilet uses 13 litres per flush while the average for a dual flush model is 4 litres per flush.

McGill Street Laneway Home

McGill Street Laneway Home, Vancouver

A rendering of one of Vancouver’s first laneway homes, which is nearly complete. Another project in the 2010 Green Building Challenge managed to achieve enough energy, water and waste reductions to make the addition of a laneway home to their property a net-zero residence; the renovations to reduce resource consumption in the existing home will make up for the resources used by occupants of a laneway house. (Image: Lanefab Design/Build)

King House, Squamish

This newly constructed home was built with pre-fabricated wall and roof panels that are highly energy efficient. A benefit to having the panels built off-site is reduced construction waste at the building site. (Image: Rao/D Cityworks)

Strandberg-Legg Residence

Strandberg-Legg Residence, Burnaby

This new home features limited lawn area and drought-tolerant plants—an innovative design and effective way to reduce water use.


Station Place, Vancouver

In multi-family complexes, organizing at the strata council level is an effective way to reduce resource consumption and waste levels. The documents shown here were created by a Sustainability Committee to help residents recycle more effectively. The strata also introduced a by-law that assigns monetary fines to residents that don’t abide by the waste diversion rules. Energy conservation measures in common areas and private residences were another component of this Challenge project.

Norman residence

Norman Residence, Vancouver

This kitchen renovation features new Energy Star appliances, in-floor heating (paired with a high efficiency boiler), double-glazed Energy Star windows and increased wall insulation.

rain barrel

Rain barrels in East Vancouver

Installing rain barrels is an easy and effective way to reduce water consumption. The barrels trap and hold stormwater from the roof, which can later be used on the lawn or garden.

Digital thermostats

Smart thermostats in East Vancouver

Digital programmable thermostats can help reduce energy use and costs by automatically changing the level of heating or cooling in a building at different times of day depending on usage patterns.

Radha Yoga and Eatery

Radha Yoga and Eatery, Vancouver

There are plenty of green improvements that small businesses can make. Among the renovations by Radha Yoga and Eatery were the installation of an air source heat pump, construction of a green roof, increased exterior insulation, the installation of solar light tubes and washroom occupancy sensors, as well as finishing floors and walls with low-VOC paints and coatings.

Wood Co-op Gallery

Wood Co-op Gallery, Vancouver

Another small business, the Wood Co-op Gallery, replaced their single-paned windows and doors with double-paned models. They also replaced the forced air heating system with more efficient baseboard heaters.


What do you think of the 2010 Green Building Challenge?

Will you be attending a tour or workshop at Light House this month? Have you already? What did you think? Leave a comment below.



Leah Nielsen

Leah Nielsen works in online communications and production at Fairware. She also consults with small companies and organizations looking to grow their online presence. She specializes in environmental and social sustainability and operates, a central hub for her work and blog. Off-line she can be found riding her bike and engaging in creative endeavours around Vancouver.

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