BIV MAGAZINE THE
CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE
HYDROGEN HYPE A NEEDED LASTMILE SOLUTION
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REPORTING RUSH ACCOUNTING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
THE ROAD TO 100% B.C.’S ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANDATE
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It’s time to
Deltaport Berth 4 Port of Vancouver Roberts Bank Terminal 2
The Port of Vancouver’s harmful Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion project must be stopped. This multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded project to build a massive, artificial island will create unneeded capacity, uncompetitive port rates and will cause damage that, according to Environment Canada, is “permanent, irreversible, and continuous.” Fortunately, there is a way to #BuildBackBetter. Learn more at BetterDeltaport.ca
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Leover paint, burnt out lights, or expired alarms piling up? Help protect the environment. Recycle them. Recycling paint, lights, and smoke/CO alarms reduces your company’s ˘ˡ˩˜˥ˢˡˠ˘ˡ˧˔˟˜ˠˣ˔˖˧˕ˬˣ˥˘˦˘˥˩˜ˡ˚˩˔˟˨˔˕˟˘˟˔ˡ˗Ё˟˟˦ˣ˔˖˘˔ˡ˗˘ˡ˦˨˥˜ˡ˚ hazardous materials are kept out of our soil and water sources. Drop off small volumes of paint, lights, and alarms for free at a recycling location near you. Large volumes may qualify for FREE pick up. Visit productcare.org or contact us for more information.
CALL 1-877-592-2972 ext. 216
Visit productcare.org for a full list of accepted products or to ﬁnd a location near you.
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4 | BIV MAGAZINE: THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES 2021 PUBLISHED BY BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER
BIV MAGAZINE THE
CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE
HYDROGEN HYPE A NEEDED LASTMILE SOLUTION
REPORTING RUSH ACCOUNTING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
THE ROAD TO 100% B.C.’S ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANDATE
PRESIDENT: Alvin Brouwer PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER; VICE-PRESIDENT, GLACIER MEDIA: Kirk LaPointe EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Hayley Woodin DESIGN: Petra Kaksonen PRODUCTION: Rob Benac CONTRIBUTORS: Nelson Bennett, Glen Korstrom, Frank O’Brien, Tyler Orton RESEARCHERS: Anna Liczmanska, Albert Van Santvoort DIRECTOR, SALES AND MARKETING: Pia Huynh SALES MANAGER: Laura Torrance ADVERTISING SALES: Blair Johnston, Corinne Tkachuk, Chris Wilson ADMINISTRATOR: Katherine Butler BIV Magazine: The Climate Change Issue is published by BIV Magazines, a division of BIV Media Group, 303 Fifth Avenue West, Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 1J6, 604-688-2398, fax 604-688-1963, biv.com.
6 HYDROGEN HYPE Why it’s more than a bubble over the long term 9 CARBON CAPTURE Blue-hydrogen future can benefit B.C. 12 STEPPING UP Problems, progress with B.C.’s Step Code 16 CLIMATE ACCOUNTING Corporate reporting considers climate change 20 THE ROAD TO 100% How B.C. is paving the way for electric vehicles
Copyright 2021 Business in Vancouver Magazines. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or incorporated into any information retrieval system without permission of BIV Magazines. The publishers are not responsible in whole or in part for any errors or omissions in this publication. ISSN 1205-5662 Publications Mail Agreement No.: 40069240. Registration No.: 8876. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to Circulation Department: 303 Fifth Avenue West, Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 1J6 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cover: Guido Mieth/GettyImages
COMMENTARY 10 MINISTER HEYMAN How B.C. is building a cleaner economy 22 SMITH, MCSWEENEY The need for a ‘Buy B.C.’ policy
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MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR
CONTEMPLATING THE OTHER CRISIS Many issues of BIV Magazine over the past year have explored themes and sectors through the lens of COVID-19. With this issue, we turn our attention to another crisis, one which – much like the global health pandemic – will create both immense challenges and opportunities. Our inaugural Climate Change edition takes an in-depth look at how B.C. companies are adapting to meet environment-related changes. T he economic impacts of climate change are broad, as is our work. In the pages ahead, you will read about how B.C. builders are responding to what is the most energy-saving building code in Canada – and perhaps the most expensive. We explore the role hydrogen ought
Your Environmental Partner Since 1991
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to play in reducing carbon emissions, whether excitement around the element is worth the hype and the opportunities that exist for B.C. in the hydrogen revolution. We also examine the emergence of new climate change policies and their impact on the environment and on business. B.C.’s zero-emissions vehicle mandate is paving the way for new market opportunities, provided infrastructure investments keep pace. Voluntary commitments around climate risk disclosure precede what many expect will be mandatory rules governing how corporations consider – and discuss – climate change. B.C.’s minister of environment and climate change strategy shares how responses to and preparations for the implications of climate change are
increasingly driving business investment decisions in B.C. This includes provincial investments in B.C.’s clean tech sector. Two guest columnists argue that B.C. needs to build on its climate-focused policies with a “buy clean” mandate – one that acknowledges and addresses the carbon emissions that exist throughout supply chains. It’s Earth Day the week that we distribute this magazine; as good a time as any to contemplate B.C.’s role and responsibility when it comes to tackling climate change.
Hayley Woodin Executive editor, BIV Magazine email@example.com
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HYDROGEN HYPE Hydrogen is hot again, but it will also be necessary for the last mile of the net-zero transition
PHOTO: GUIDO MIETH/GETTYIMAGES
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wenty-one years ago, on March 3, 2000, Ballard Power Systems stock hit $172 per share.
The hydrogen fuel cell pioneer’s stock then began a twodecade-long decline, as the high-tech bubble burst and as it became clear the electric car, not hydrogen fuel cell cars, would be the clean energy transportation system of choice for the future. Ballard’s stock fell below $1 per share in 2012. But in 2020, Ballard’s stock began a rally, along with other fuel cell company stocks, hitting $52.23 per share on February 8. More recently, on February 25, Vancouver fuel cell company Loop Energy Inc. debuted on the Toronto Stock Exchange with a $100 million initial public offering. In January, Vancouver startup Ekona Power Inc. received a $3 million investment from BDC Capital to prove out a new process it developed to produce low-emission hydrogen from natural gas, without needing carbon capture and storage. Clearly, hydrogen is hot once again. But is it just another bubble? Shorter term, perhaps. Longer term, no – not according to sustainable energy experts and the International Energy Agency, which forecasts that demand for hydrogen will grow from 32 million tonnes per year in 2019 to 69 million tonnes by 2050. The hydrogen strategies that a number of countries, including Canada, have been adopting recognize hydrogen as a versatile energy source with multiple applications – applications that will be needed for industrialized economies to get that last mile towards net zero by 2050. Hydrogen can be used to power fuel cells, but can also be injected into natural gas streams to lower their carbon content. It can be used as a renewable energy storage solution, and it can be burned, without producing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. “People say, ‘Hydrogen’s been hyped before,’” Tyler Bryant, low-carbon strategy and policy manager for FortisBC, said at the BC Natural Resources Forum in January. “Yep, that’s true. But last time around, big utilities like FortisBC were not coming to the table and were not looking at billions of dollars of regulated capital investment into something like this. This is a much different situation. The climate imperative, frankly, is a much different situation than it was at previous hydrogen hype cycles. This time truly is different.” Wal van Lierop, executive chairman of Chrysalix Venture Capital, believes there is a bit of Wall Street speculator frenzy going on with fuel cell stocks right now. Longer term, though, he agrees hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonization for hard-to-abate sectors. George Rubin, the new chief operating officer for Loop Energy, acknowledges fuel cell companies such as Loop could still be vulnerable to investor impatience. “The stock market has a tendency of running ahead of itself, then pulling back,” he says. “But the trajectory and
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the direction is very, very real this time around.” Renewable energy, electric vehicles and electrification in general can only get industrialized societies so far down the road to zero emissions. These are essentially the low-hanging fruit. But electricity and heat account for only 25% of global emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Transportation accounts for 14%. Even if you electrified all transportation and electricity generation, you still have heavy industry to deal with – things like cement, steel and chemical production. And industry accounts for 21% of global emissions. “Once you achieve 50% of the energy transition, things are becoming much more difficult,” van Lierop says. You simply can’t make cement or steel without high temperatures. In most cases, those temperatures are achieved by burning natural gas or coal. And in transportation, long-haul trucks, cargo ships and trains can probably never be electrified because the batteries needed would simply be too heavy. Sustainable energy planners say this is where hydrogen fits in. Matthew Klippenstein, a clean energy consultant, says electricity (renewables, hydro, nuclear) and batteries can get an economy 80% towards a target of net zero by 2050. “But there is zero chance on God’s green earth that you can get to net zero without a gobsmacking amount of hydrogen,” he said. The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices recently produced a roadmap called Canada’s Net Zero Future. It breaks down decarbonization pathways into two broad categories: “safe bets” and “wild cards.” The safe bets are proven approaches such as renewable energy, nuclear power, electric vehicles, fuel switching (from coal to natural gas) and point-source carbon capture. These technologies can do the heavy lifting until 2030. Beyond that, wild cards including hydrogen (for fuel cells and heat) and direct-air capture will need to begin playing bigger roles. Battery power works fine for passenger cars; it doesn’t work so well for long-haul semi trucks, trains or oceangoing vessels. These areas of transportation are already starting to see a switch to hydrogen fuel cells, especially in China and Europe. But fuel cells aren’t the only use for hydrogen. Hydrogen can be burned without producing CO2 and used as an alternative to natural gas in industrial processes, such as steel making. Siemens Energy AG recently announced a partnership with a utility in Utah that will result in a power plant switching from coal to natural gas, and then to hydrogen. The plan is to include a 30% mix of hydrogen with natural gas in 2025. By 2045, the plan is to burn pure hydrogen.
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New kid on the fuel cell block: George Rubin is COO for Loop Energy, which debuted on the TSX with a $100 million initial public offering on February 25 • ROB KRUYT
Hydrogen can also reduce the carbon content of natural gas streams. FortisBC’s goal is to have 15% renewable natural gas injected into its natural gas system by 2030, with hydrogen being one of those fuels. “Twenty years ago people were talking about hydrogen as a way to fuel cars,” says Gary Schubak, vice-president of business development for Ekona Power and a former Ballard engineer. “And that’s where the conversation ended. “The fuel cell technology wasn’t really ready. Today, it’s ready. But more important than that, people are talking about hydrogen as a way to decarbonize our economy – not just our transportation sector, but our natural gas sector, our steel sector, our ammonia industries. “Hydrogen is a key component to decarbonizing all sorts of segments of our economy that electrification won’t be able to do,” Schubak says. The hydrogen strategies that countries like Canada have been rolling out are not just focused on hydrogen use, but hydrogen production, as well. Hydrogen can be made from natural gas, or from water, using electricity. Blue hydrogen is made from natural gas, with CO2 captured and sequestered. Green hydrogen, made from water and electricity, is the cleanest, since it produces no emissions. But the amount of energy needed for that process makes it three to five times more expensive than
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making it from natural gas. Ekona Power has developed a process for making what might be called “turquoise” hydrogen: a methane pyrolysis reactor that can make hydrogen and solid carbon from natural gas, without the carbon capture and storage. That the process would create pure carbon as a by-product, as opposed to CO2, is an important distinction. CO2 is a greenhouse gas; pure carbon isn’t. Pure, solid carbon can either be used for industrial purposes – added to asphalt, for example, to make roads last longer – or simply landfilled. Asked if Canada should skip blue hydrogen production altogether and go straight to green hydrogen production, Sabina Russell, principal of Zen Clean Energy Solutions and former Ballard engineer, says she initially thought that was possible, until she ran the numbers. “I went in not really sure that we needed blue hydrogen,” Russell said at the BC Natural Resources Forum. “It was really when we started modelling the energy system at that macro level, and looking at the number of petajoules of energy that we use, it became really clear to me that we absolutely need every colour of hydrogen.” According to the federal government’s new hydrogen strategy, hydrogen could account for up to 30% of Canada’s end-use energy by 2050, and could abate greenhouse gas emissions by 190 million tonnes. É
THIS IS A MUCH DIFFERENT SITUATION. THE CLIMATE IMPERATIVE, FRANKLY, IS A MUCH DIFFERENT SITUATION THAN IT WAS AT PREVIOUS HYDROGEN HYPE CYCLES. THIS TIME TRULY IS DIFFERENT j Tyler Bryant Low-carbon strategy and policy manager FortisBC
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CAPTURING THE CARBON CAPTURE MARKET Blue hydrogen will be a major market for one B.C. company’s technology Right now, most of the hydrogen produced in the world comes from natural gas through steam methane reforming. For every tonne of this “grey” hydrogen produced from natural gas, 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced. Clearly, that’s a problem for countries that want hydrogen to play a role in net-zero commitments by 2050. At some point in the future, the cost of producing zero-emission “green” hydrogen from water and electricity will come down. But right now, it would cost up to five times more to produce than “grey” hydrogen. Even when carbon capture and storage is added – so-called “blue” hydrogen” – the cost is about $1.50 to $2 per tonne, compared to $3 to $5 per tonne for green hydrogen. Until green hydrogen can compete, most hydrogen in North America is likely to be produced from natural gas through steam methane reforming , but with the CO2 captured and sequestered. “ They both have a role to play, but at dif ferent times ,” s ay s Wal v an Lierop, executive chairman of Chrysalix Venture Capital. “There’s a role for carbon capture at-source in the next 15 years. Ultimately, you want to go to green hydrogen.” One B.C. company, Svante, has positioned itself as a leader in point-source carbon capture, and sees blue hydrogen production as one of its most important markets. “That’s a major, major focus of our market entry,” says Svante president and CEO Claude Letourneau. The other big market will be cement production. Sv a n te re ce n t l y b u m p e d t h e i r ove rsubscribed $75 million Series D financing to $100 million. One of the new investors is a major player in the Canadian energy space, Letourneau says, and its focus is blue hydrogen. Fo r m er l y k n ow n a s I nvent y s , Sv a nte developed a point-source carbon capture process that it says is cheaper than the more conventional liquid amine process that has been used to date in most carbon capture and storage projects. Svante developed a nano-material filter and a process that captures CO2 molecules coming from industrial processes, like steam methane reforming and cement production. It has been tested on a small scale at a Husky bitumen operation in Saskatchewan, where it captures 10,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. “The next plant we are designing is 1.5 million tonnes a year,” Letourneau says.
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The Alberta Carbon Trunk line is Alberta’s new purpose-built CO2 pipeline • SUBMITTED
With an abundance of cheap natural gas, both the U.S. and Canada are well situated to dominate the blue hydrogen space, so there could be big North American demand for Svante’s technology. In Canada, Alberta is poised to be the first blue hydrogen producer. It not only has an abundance of natural gas and an existing grey hydrogen industry, but significant geological storage capacity for carbon sequestration as well. Alberta also has a new purpose-built CO2 pipeline – the Alberta Carbon Trunk line. Ch r y s a l i x w a s o n e of Sv a n te ’s e a r l y investors. Van Lierop expects blue hydrogen will dominate the hydrogen production space up until about 2035, at which time it begins to be displaced by green hydrogen. He likewise thinks direct-air carbon capture – a space B.C.-based Carbon Engineering is playing in – will be a “niche play” until 2035, after which it will begin to take over from point-source carbon capture. Ultimately, it all comes down to cost. CO 2 a cco u n t s fo r j u s t 0 . 04% of t h e content of the atmosphere, but the CO2 coming out of industrial flue stacks is a lot more concentrated. For example, the CO2 concentration from a cement plant is about 14%, Letourneau says, and 20% from steam
methane reforming for producing hydrogen from natural gas. It takes lot less energ y and money to capture concentrated CO2 at its source than it does to pull it when highly diluted from the atmosphere. The International Energ y Agency ha s estimated the cost of direct-air capture at $150 to $350 per tonne. Svante says it can do point-source capture for blue hydrogen production for $50 per tonne. That’s not to say direct-air carbon capture won’t be needed, but the immediate goal is to prevent CO2 from getting into the air in the first place from industries that simply cannot stop burning fossil fuels. “We need all of it,” Letourneau says. “But the low-hanging fruit for costs is the SMR (steam methane reforming) and the cement.” Svante’s technology also shows promise in bringing down the cost of direct-air carbon capture as well. Last year, Svante signed a collaboration a g re e m e n t w i t h C l i m e w o r k s , a Sw i s s company that, like Carbon Engineering, is working in the direct-air capture space. Climework s hopes to bring the cos t of direc t-air capture down using Svante’s technology.
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HOW B.C. IS BUILDING A CLEANER ECONOMY A number of initiatives will help the province meet its 2050 net-zero commitment
Responding to and preparing for climate change is increasingly driving business investment decisions in British Columbia and globally. In only a few short months, we’ve seen remarkable changes in global finance, where large investors have brought environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to the top of their agenda. In January, BlackRock – the world’s largest asset manager with close to US$9 trillion in its portfolio – announced it would be asking companies to provide plans for how they will compete in a net-zero world. The announcement followed major climate commitments from the new U.S. administration and net-zero pledges from governments like China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union, among roughly 130 others. Many of these governments are investing significant economic recovery funds to accelerate this transition. Succeeding in these markets means investing through an ESG lens or risk being frozen out. The good news is that by working together to face these challenges, we create new opportunities for a better future – a world with less pollution, stronger communities and good jobs for people across our province. British Columbia is well positioned to take advantage of the move to net zero. Many businesses have led the way forward, spurred in part by the experience of managing carbon pricing, our CleanBC plan and B.C.’s clean electricity grid. The B.C. government is building a cleaner economy to meet our own 2050 net-zero commitment, with CleanBC actions taking hold across sectors to reduce emissions and create jobs at the same time. Some of our biggest opportunities come from cleaner industry capitalizing on new innovation and technology. Industry in B.C. has already adopted net-zero pledges – companies with net-zero commitments represent nearly 40% of all emissions from large industry in the province. But additional action must be taken to meet our emissions targets and stay competitive in a rapidly expanding global clean economy. Our government is working to meet the challenge ahead by building on the strengths of low-carbon industry in B.C. We’re investing carbon tax revenue into projects that reduce emissions and supporting advanced
technologies to address tough-to-solve emissions problems through the CleanBC Industry Fund. The program is supporting good jobs across the province in sectors like mining, cement, pulp and paper, and oil and gas. We’ve also boosted the maximum amount available to potential projects and are now offering up to 90% of project funding this year to enhance the program. In addition, the latest stream of the fund will also accelerate innovation and job growth in B.C.’s burgeoning clean tech sector. Partnering B.C.’s established industry players with clean tech, a rapidly expanding sector, which now employs thousands of British Columbians and generates billions in revenue, is another example of how we are addressing climate change and creating new economic opportunities. We understand that economic transition is challenging, and we are engaging with industry to make sure we are listening to businesses as we make changes to build competitiveness. Businesses recognize carbon pricing as the most effective and lowest cost way to reduce emissions. But given the magnitude of the net zero challenge, governments need to work directly with industry to help them transition. Moreover, some industries in B.C. remain vulnerable to competitors beyond our borders without a carbon price. The CleanBC Industrial Incentive Program works by reducing costs for low-carbon operators, compared to a world-leading emissions benchmark. We’re committed to enhancing both the incentive program and the industry fund further and releasing a detailed roadmap to meet our 2030 emissions targets by the end of the year. The roadmap will build on the work we’re doing to help industries power up with clean electricity by working together with BC Hydro and the federal government. This includes offering lower CleanBC industrial electrification rates and putting in place a new fund to reduce the costs of connecting to the electricity grid. All of these actions build on our advantages in the global clean economy and will help transform our natural resource industries for the better. British Columbia’s history and future are tied to the value we place on our natural environment. And as we continue down this path, more and more global partners are recognizing how important it is to reduce climate-changing emissions to support a better environment and build a stronger economy. É George Heyman is B.C.’s minister of environment and climate change strategy.
WE’RE COMMITTED TO ENHANCING BOTH THE INCENTIVE PROGRAM AND THE INDUSTRY FUND FURTHER AND RELEASING A DETAILED ROADMAP TO MEET OUR 2030 EMISSIONS TARGETS
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Can we lower greenhouse gas emissions while meeting future energy needs?
It’s possible when we rethink how we use energy. By partnering with B.C. communities, industry and government to use the strengths of our natural gas and electricity systems, B.C. can achieve its emission reduction target for nearly $100 billion less than if we relied on electricity as a single energy source.* We’re investing in more renewable energy options and lower-carbon fuels, building more electric vehicle charging stations and helping all of our customers be more energy-efficient. Our goal is to reduce our customers’ GHG emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. We call this 30BY30. Now that’s energy at work. Check our progress at fortisbc.com/30BY30. Connect with us
*Pathways for British Columbia to achieve its GHG reduction goals; Guidehouse, 2020, p. 31 fortisbc.com/guidehouse. FortisBC uses the FortisBC name and logo under license from Fortis Inc. (21-032.8 03/2021)
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The B.C. Step Code is the most energy-saving building code in Canada, but some builders claim it is expensive, elitist and ineffectual in battling climate change FRANK O’BRIEN
n December 2017 the B.C. government introduced the ambitious BC Energy Step Code, a building code with five steps towards creating net-greenhousegas-emitting residential buildings, or ‘net-zero’ homes, by 2032.
It is the toughest code in Canada and a testing ground for the new national building code, now in the works, that will also put an emphasis on climate change. The Step Code is not yet mandatory and gives B.C. municipalities the option to have residential construction meet one or more steps of the Step Code as an upgrade to the existing code. (The City of Vancouver has its own building code and is moving towards having all new homes becoming net zero by 2030). Step 1 is a minor improvement over the existing code, while the second step is a 10% improvement in efficiency. Step 3, which nine Metro Vancouver municipalities have already moved to, along with some of the larger centres in the Greater Victoria region, specifies a 20% improvement. Step 4 is a 40% upgrade from current standards. Step 5 requires builders to construct homes that have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, meaning the home produces more energy than it uses. Rather than mandate particular building practices or materials, builders are free to choose how to achieve the performance targets. Home efficiency is measured in the number of kilowatt hours per square metre the home requires, the security of its envelope and how airtight it is. “It is a function of the efficiency of the HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] equipment, the tightness of the envelope, the degree of insulation, all these different things,” explains Ron Rapp, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver (HAVAN). A certified energy adviser must sign off on plans that meet performance models; then the final structure is checked with a blower door test, which uses a specialized fan to measure how tightly a building is sealed against air leakage. A typical older house, due to natural leakage, may have 10 to 20 air changes per day. A Step 5 level house would have less than one air change daily.
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Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association, fears the Step Code is being introduced too fast • SUBMITTED
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Builder Larry Clay with a Step 3 level house his company recently built on Vancouver’s Westside • CHUNG CHOW
Since buildings account for about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, the direction of the Step Code appears laudable in fighting climate change, but home builders are finding just how steeply expensive it can become. Some experts even warn that air tightness requirements can put homeowners at risk of cancer-causing radon gas. For most builders, however, it is the collision of higher costs with the ascending Step Code that is the biggest concern. A 2019 HAVAN modelling study of a standard new detached house estimated that the cost to implement Step 1 would be $5,600 above the current building code. To meet Step 3 would add $15,300 and that cost would rise to more than $24,000 at the Step 4 level. At Step 5, primarily because of the much higher levels of insulation, advanced mechanical systems and ultra-high-performance windows, the cost soars to $48,220 for a typical house. “It would be much more than that on a large custom-built house: at least $70,000 to $110,000,” says Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association and a consistent critic of the Step Code. Edge says the costs are layered onto new homes, while the much larger pool of existing homes, many built decades ago, continue to emit most of the emissions. Larry Clay, founder and president of Clay Construction Inc. in Langley and incoming national president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, sits on the industry’s National Net Zero Committee, which works with the federal government on building code standards. His company builds eight to 10 houses per year valued at up
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to $3 million, all of them to Step 3 and up to net-zero standards. Clay says it was fairly easy for B.C. builders to achieve Step 2 and even Step 3, but the challenges increase at higher levels, and it is not only about cost. He cites the example of a large custom house he is building in Langley under a Step 3 building code. The client had considered going to Step 5 – net zero – until energy modelling showed the design changes that would be needed. These included much thicker walls, much smaller windows and changes to roof overhangs. The client said “no way” and kept with the original design. “At what point,” Clay asks, “does a homeowner have the right to keep the design they want?” He says window size and orientation could become a big issue under Step 4 or 5. For example, he notes, in Burnaby and Vancouver many homeowners may want a big-window north view of the Inlet and the mountains, but the Step Code would require small or no north-facing windows, without substantial costs added. Clay says adding $25,000 to $50,000 onto the price of a new house may fly in Canada’s most expensive markets of Vancouver, Victoria or Toronto, but not in most of B.C. or Canada. Builders in many smaller centres try to deliver new houses that cost around $300,000, he notes. “Adding $24,000 to $50,000 to the cost would kill their business,” Clay says. Clay – who is also the immediate past-president of HAVAN – and Edge both say the fact that different municipalities have conflicting Step Code requirements adds to the cost and confusion for builders and consumers.
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Heavily insulated basements are part of all BC Energy Step Code requirements • CLAY CONSTRUCTION LTD.
“Municipalities are circumventing the purpose of the Step Code, which was to slowly improve the code to let builders and suppliers become familiar with it,” Clay says. Edge says there are inherent dangers in moving too fast. He points to a 2018 study from Simon Fraser University (SFU), which showed a link between rising levels of radon gas and air-tight homes. The study confirmed the presence of radon on the North Shore of Metro Vancouver, where the City of West Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver will all require Step 5 – which has the highest air tightness – as of July 1, 2021, the first municipalities in Canada to do so. But Noah Questel, director of law and policy for the British Columbia Lung Association’s healthy indoor environments program, and a postdoctoral fellow at SFU, says the danger of radon gas is overstated and can be overcome. “While statistically we do see a clear correlation between
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energy efficiency [home] initiatives and occurrences of elevated radon, this is not a reason to oppose energy efficiency measures like the Step Code. Rather, if energy efficiency upgrades and codes include procedures for testing and mitigating for radon and other indoor air-quality issues, we can have clear benefits for both climate and human health,” Questel said in an email statement to Climate Change. Clay, who becomes president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association this May, notes that Canada’s new national building code, expected to be introduced in 2025, will also require much higher levels of energy efficiency and other measures to combat climate change. Clay says home builders are as concerned about the environment as anyone and will meet any standards demanded, but that government incentives, perhaps mortgage industry price breaks, may be needed. “We will get there [to net zero]. We have to, but we need help,” Clay says. “Home builders can’t do it alone.” É
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Architectural Rendering by Cornerstone Architecture
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CLIMATE ACCOUNTING Canadian companies jockey to stay ahead of evolving landscape for sustainability reporting requirements
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ast-growing Vancouver outdoor-gear maker Arc’teryx’s executives have long been aware that increasing sales translate into a greater burden on the environment.
Arc’teryx chief of staff Drummond Lawson was part of the team that started to shift Arc’teryx toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions • CHUNG CHOW
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Drummond Lawson, chief of staff at Arc’teryx and executive responsible for sustainability, remembers the company having an epiphany about five years ago that set it on its current course as a corporate leader in reducing its environmental impact. “There was this penny-drop moment,” he says. “We started saying, ‘Actually, our success is part of what’s creating these increased impacts on the environment.’” Arc’teryx is one of countless companies taking action to reduce corporate contributions to climate change. What is fueling corporate ambition to lead change is the likelihood that governments, or securities exchanges, will require entities to take action, and to alert stakeholders about the environmental risks companies face. Lobbying efforts are afoot to have Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson require federally regulated companies, publicly accountable enterprises and Crown corporations to disclose climate-related financial risks. Specifically, the aim of some climate change activists is to require those organizations to adhere to a global framework recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The TCFD is a voluntary organization, but Canadian Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) principal co-investigator Carol Liao says she believes that regulations mandating that companies and other organizations adhere to the TCFD framework, and its recommendations, are around the corner. Governments in New Zealand and the U.K. have already started to require that companies disclose climate-related financial risks, she says, adding that she believes that it is just a matter of time before this requirement becomes law in Canada. The international Financial Stability Board, based in Switzerland, created the TCFD in late 2015 to develop voluntary, consistent, climate-related,
financial-risk disclosures for companies to use when providing information to investors, lenders, insurers and other stakeholders. The TCFD then released its final recommendations in June 2017, after consulting global stakeholders. Its recommendations aim to make markets more transparent and spur capital investment into a lower-carbon economy, as envisaged by the Paris Agreement on climate change. To help executives stickhandle the legalities of the TCFD framework, the CCLI provides free advice, Liao says. She equates that advice to being “like a sourdough starter for their climate journey.” Corporate directors and officers already have an obligation to be proactive, and to critically evaluate and address financial and other risks – as well as opportunities – associated with an evolving climate, she says. “Canadian courts have given judicial notice that climate change is real,” says Liao. “Not many people know that, but judicial notice is when a fact is so well known, and proven, that it cannot be reasonably doubted. So you don’t need to prove to Canadian courts that climate change exists. The courts have already accepted that fact as evidence.” Court acceptance that climate change is real means that executives could be sued if they do not provide a duty of care to their companies by being open about climate-related financial risks. Shareholders, for example, could sue if they suffer losses after corporate fortunes tank when executives should have given the public a heads-up. Liao says some major risks for executives to contemplate, and reveal publicly, include ones that relate to regulatory policies changing. Supply chains could be disrupted, causing shortages and possibly a lack of water, she says. Warnings to investors should also consider the
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18 | BIV MAGAZINE: THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE 2021 PUBLISHED BY BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER
Carol Liao is a principal co-investigator at the Canadian Climate Law Initiative, which provides free advice to executives on how to navigate evolving climate-change reporting requirements • CHUNG CHOW
Adidas and H&M. potential for extreme temperature changes and sea level rises, as well as what those phenomena might mean for The sector guidelines created by the WRI-SAC partnership were based on science-based targets, which employee safety or employees’ abilities to commute. Companies face the risk of litigation, as well as repu- was important because companies could trust that tational damage, if they do not take action to navigate suggested actions would genuinely do some good. “The science-based targets are very clear rules to say, the changing climate, she adds. As for Arc’teryx, its journey to being leader in reducing ‘Are these climate actions by a given company sufficient for them to be on a stable climate trajectory?’” Lawson its impact on global climate change was hastened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) announcing that explains. it planned to create a set of rules for how apparel brands That ideal trajectory would be for a company to cause could set sustainability targets based on climate science. greenhouse gas emissions that will not contribute The WRI started working with the Sustainable Appar- to global warming greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius of temperature change by 2030, which is the basis of the el Coalition (SAC) – the apparel, footwear and textile Paris Agreement. industry’s advocate for sustainable production – as the two organizations sought to build guidance for the Arc’teryx’s commitments as part of the science-based industry as a whole. targets are to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse “We thought that this was such a good idea that we gas emissions by 65% by 2030, compared with what it produced in 2018. came on as one of the early partners,” Lawson says. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions, such as those He adds that the SAC was an effective partner to help the WRI transform the apparel sector because SAC from a chimney on a factory, while Scope 2 emissions has representation from global giants, such as Nike, are ones that may take place elsewhere but result from
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CANADIAN COURTS HAVE GIVEN JUDICIAL NOTICE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL j Carol Liao Principal co-investigator Canadian Climate Law Initiative
McMillan partner Stephen Wortley (left) and associate Ravi Bains lead the
corporate activity. For example, using electricity at an owned or controlled factory would be a Scope 2 emission. Arc’teryx’s other commitment is to reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 65% per unit of value added by 2030, from what it produced in 2018. Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions, such as those produced by a company that supplies zippers or down. The key with the Scope 3 target is that Arc’teryx can still increase sales and grow its business – it just aims to reduce emissions by 65% on each subsequent sale. So far, Arc’teryx has made some concrete steps to meet these targets. One thing the company has done is buy 100% renewable energy credits. Those are different from buying carbon offsets, because the purchases actually finance renewable energy that is pumped into energy grids, Lawson explains. Another initiative Arc’teryx has embarked on is the use of lower-impact materials. For example, the company is increasingly buying materials that have dye incorporated directly into the polymer. This differs from buying products that have a neutral colour and have to be dyed. Energy efficiency is another prong in the company’s emission-reduction plan, and includes next-generation air conditioners and lower-emission lighting. Finally, Arc’teryx has started a program that Lawson calls its “circular economy.” The retailer allows customers to sell items back to the company at its stores, at a discounted rate. The items are then sold via a partner online in the U.S. There is a goal to have these sales be offered to customers in B.C. but so far, the company’s partner, Trove, does not have operations in Canada. “We build our products to a very high standard of durability, and oftentimes they will outlast the first users’ interest in them,” Lawson says. “In our books, that’s a great thing because there’s another user waiting and we want to build an easy marketplace to get the product on to its next use.” É
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firm’s new practice group, focused on ESG and sustainability • ROB KRUYT
UNIQUE ESG LAW GROUP LAUNCHES IN VANCOUVER New practice group caters to international market The number of companies offering sustainability-focused services and advice has exploded, as boards, corporate leaders and investors increasingly focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). Fasken, McCarthy Tétrault, Borden Ladner Gervais and Norton Rose Fulbright are just a few of the many Canadian law firms that house climate change, sustainability, environmental or ESG practice areas, and all have at least one partner in Vancouver. Last month, McMillan LLP was among the latest to launch an expanded ESG and sustainability practice group. The group is led by two Vancouverbased lawyers who say the group is unique in its approach. “We will be setting up a one-of-a-kind-in-Canada practice dedicated exclusively to sustainability and ESG,” says Ravi Bains, a McMillan associate and one of group’s leaders alongside Stephen Wortley, partner, capital markets and securities. To Bains’ knowledge, McMillan is the first Canadian law firm to offer ESG services to an international market. The group will support entrepreneurs tackling issues related to climate change, help large companies become more sustainable, work with capital providers looking for exposure in the sustainability space and offer government relations, among other services. “In my experience, a lot of these companies are looking for not only opportunities in British Columbia and the United States, but are looking for advisors that provide that international reach to other markets,” says Wortley. “Those companies have to have an ESG mindset,” Wortley adds. “The whole cleantech ecosystem in Vancouver is something that really requires lawyers that are comfortable in ESG to advise them.”
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20 | BIV MAGAZINE: THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE 2021 PUBLISHED BY BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER
THE ROAD TO 100% B.C.’s new vehicle emissions mandate will help pave the way for emissions-free vehicle sales in 2040
2020 road trip from Vancouver to Prince George proved markedly different from a year earlier for Michael Stanyer as he rolled through the province in a Volkswagen e-Golf.
He’d made the nearly 800-kilometre journey countless times after moving from B.C.’s north to the Lower Mainland. The 2019 trip was made in a longer-range electric vehicle (EV), but there was a key difference: the fast-charging infrastructure dotting the landscape had notably filled out over the course of a year. Stanyer, the program co-ordinator for the Plug In BC initiative that seeks to inform West Coast residents about the EV market, would drive for about 150 kilometres on this trip in the e-Golf before stopping to charge for about 20 minutes on his way to Prince George. “It’s especially useful to people in my position where I have no shortage of things to do for 20 minutes in responding to emails and such. So doing it in a vehicle like that adds to a person’s trip, but again, if you’re leaning towards an electric vehicle that you’re going to take on road trips rarely, it shouldn’t necessarily deter you. You’re going to add some time to your trip for sure, but you know there’s the benefit of saving quite a lot of money,” he says. “Some of the anxieties that people have around range are really to do with the number of fast-charging stations that they know are available. And so I think that that rings true. What doing those trips myself illustrated to me is that with the fast-charging station network, those trips are very doable.” It’s a network more British Columbians will need to rely on in the coming years after the province passed its Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Act in 2019, which has set the target of requiring all new light-duty cars and trucks sold
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in the province to be emissions free by 2040. The act also calls for 10% of new vehicle sales to be ZEV by 2025 and 30% by 2030. While Stanyer says it will be a long road getting there, he does not see any red flags indicating B.C. can’t achieve that goal and create the charging infrastructure necessary to support the thousands of new ZEVs taking to the roads. “The whole world is going that way,” he says. “There’s a lot of innovation out there that is being used in other parts of the world that we haven’t really had to rely on so far. We’re running into situations where it’s difficult to get power into some remote areas. I think we’ve only just begun to get creative with how to do that, having things like battery backups made from reused EV batteries, once they’re taken out of vehicles, to store power for [rural] charging stations.” Meanwhile, infrastructure investments have already been ramping up in 2021. In early March, Ottawa and Bosa Properties committed $275,000 to install 34 chargers at six sites across Metro Vancouver. Days later, the federal government said it was earmarking $2.75 billion over five years to help the nation’s public transit systems to further electrify. Part of that money will go towards electric buses manufactured by Vancouver-based GreenPower Motor Co., as well as the infrastructure necessary to support the new vehicles. Meanwhile, a 2019 report prepared for Transport Canada reveals that of the 31,054 battery-electric vehicles
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An EV charging station outside the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in Oliver, B.C. • PLUG IN BC
registered in the country that year, 10,881 were registered in B.C. The only other province to exceed B.C. was Quebec – which has its own ZEV mandate – with 13,378 registrations. And while Ontario has three times the population of B.C., it recorded 5,502 registrations. Unlike B.C. or Quebec, Ontario does not have a ZEV mandate or rebates comparable to those provinces. California, with a population comparable to Canada, and a dozen other American states also have ZEV mandates. The European Union is seeking to have at least 30 million ZEVs on the road by 2030, meaning the growing number of jurisdictions adopting such mandates is putting further pressure on manufacturers to meet growing demand. “Demand is relative to the cost so the issue is not supply but supply of affordable ZEVs. Also, most OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] are global and will continue to prioritize supply to the markets that have the biggest demand. As cost comes down for ZEVs sold within [North America], market demand will rise and supply will adjust to meet the demand,” says Mark Cann, CEO and co-chief technology officer of Cryo Energy Tech. And Stanyer is quick to point out that B.C.’s auto market won’t dictate what unfolds in the rest of the world in terms of manufacturers meeting increasing demand for supply. As it stands now, the West Coast is not facing any supply issues, according to Blair Qualey, president of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. “You’ll find some dealership lots have EVs just sitting there, not selling at the moment. So supply doesn’t seem to be as big a challenge as some people might try and make it out to be,” he says.
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“Individual manufacturers may have challenges, especially those that haven’t introduced battery-electric vehicles yet. But I think over time, as I said, we’ve got 120 new models by 2023. That’s pretty good selection I think for Canadians and British Columbians.” He added B.C. has been ahead of the curve for a long time now in terms of adoption, and that dealers are on board with the province’s ZEV mandate. “Dealers have recognized here in this province for some time that it was a good market for electric vehicles and car dealers want to sell something that people want to buy,” Qualey says. He hopes there will be an ongoing commitment from the B.C. government in the next budget to provide further financial stimulus – such as rebates – to help drivers make the leap to electric vehicles. “Nearly every market that has ZEV mandates also has some form of generous incentives or other subsidies,” Cann says. “Infrastructure is the trillion-dollar question that’s being asked right now. Adoption of ZEVs will require massive upgrades and build-outs in infrastructure and everyone is trying to determine who will get stuck paying the bill.” É
INFRASTRUCTURE IS THE TRILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION THAT’S BEING ASKED RIGHT NOW. ADOPTION OF ZEVS WILL REQUIRE MASSIVE UPGRADES AND BUILD-OUTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND EVERYONE IS TRYING TO DETERMINE WHO WILL GET STUCK PAYING THE BILL j Mark Cann CEO, co-chief technology officer Cryo Energy Tech
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22 | BIV MAGAZINE: THE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE 2021 PUBLISHED BY BUSINESS IN VANCOUVER
B.C. NEEDS A ‘BUY CLEAN’ POLICY Approach could close carbon loophole and support B.C. businesses
MERRAN SMITH AND MICHAEL MCSWEENEY
A Biden administration will undoubtedly mean wide-sweeping economic changes for the U.S. in the years ahead, but it also has big implications for how B.C. does business. While America’s new climate-centric agenda has dominated headlines, it’s just the latest in a series of international climate commitments that are reshaping the global economy and driving demand for products and technologies that will help countries cut carbon. Fortunately, thanks to its nearly fossil-fuel-free electricity grid, B.C. already produces many of the products the world needs to transition to a low-carbon economy. An analysis developed by the Business Council of British Columbia and the B.C. government shows that locally sourced aluminium, cement, copper, lumber and steelmaking coal are all among the cleanest on the global market. The story for Canada is similar: in addition to the above, Canadian iron ore, steel, cement and pulp and paper are among the world’s cleanest. Despite this, Canada spends more than $7 billion annually on imported steel and aluminum, materials that are typically higher-carbon than domestic options. Here in B.C., the construction of the new Pattullo Bridge replacement, which will cross the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey, will not use low-carbon Canadian steel, but imported steel from Asia. B.C. finds itself in a situation where it imports higher-carbon products at the expense of B.C. and Canadian producers. What can be done about it? California has shown us a path forward with its “buy
clean” law that requires contractors bidding on state construction projects to disclose the carbon emissions in materials like glass and steel. B.C. needs its own “buy clean” policy that sets standards for the amount of pollution that building materials can produce. Such a policy is key to supporting and growing both old and new industries, the jobs they create and the communities that rely on them. Not only does buying clean help the province fight climate change, it also gives B.C. businesses – which are often lower-carbon compared to global competitors – a competitive advantage in their own backyard. Lastly, this approach closes the “carbon loophole” – that is, emissions from producing and transporting goods and materials in jurisdictions with fewer or no regulations to curb pollution (and which bypass B.C.’s carbon price that applies to local manufacturers). Without closing this loophole, which globally accounts for up to a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, B.C. and the rest of the world will struggle to combat climate change. B.C. has already started down the “buy clean” path with efforts to promote the use of low-carbon wood and portland limestone cement in government building and infrastructure projects. Expanding these first steps into a comprehensive “buy clean” policy would help prevent B.C.’s world-class clean construction products from being undercut, while encouraging the growth of new, cleaner businesses and strengthening our long-term competitiveness. Faced with a global market that is placing increasing value on clean materials, B.C. must do the same if it wants to catch the eye of our American neighbours while also cutting pollution. In short, it’s time for B.C. to buy clean. É Merran Smith is executive director of Clean Energy Canada. Michael McSweeney is president of the Cement Association of Canada.
B.C. NEEDS ITS OWN “BUY CLEAN” POLICY THAT SETS STANDARDS FOR THE AMOUNT OF POLLUTION THAT BUILDING MATERIALS CAN PRODUCE
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NOTHING LEFT BEHIND EXCEPT A MORE SUSTAINABLE LOCAL FOOD SUPPLY. At West Coast Reduction, nothing is important to us. Because when there’s nothing left – that’s when we’ve done our job. We collect food waste and by-products from food producers, like farms, restaurants and even supermarkets, transforming them into ingredients used in animal feed, renewable energy, and thousands of to a sustainable local food supply, and help us all live in cleaner and healthier communities.
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