Evaluation of actions and policies to reduce urban GHG emissions using multiple criteria: A contribution Towards energy efficiency in British Columbia’s Built Environment

Buildings Energy Cost effectiveness Sustainability Urban planning Greenhouse gases Building codes Building energy codes British Columbia

In this report, we evaluate policies to reduce GHG emissions in urban areas according to multiple criteria, based on an extensive literature review. Municipal governments implement policies (regulations, charges, subsidies, etc.) to induce actions (such as improved energy efficiency in buildings or a shift to public transit). We include the standard policy evaluative criteria of financial cost-effectiveness, environmental effectiveness (at reducing GHG emissions), administrative feasibility, and political acceptability. We seek to contribute to the discourse in this area by adding two factors that are not usually considered: intangible values and heterogeneity. The intangible values perceived by consumers and firms can result in actions not being widely adopted, even though they appear to offer financial benefits. Heterogeneity can also influence the performance of government policies; in the context of this research, heterogeneity refers to variation across demographic groups and in urban form. The city of Vancouver is used as a case study, since the policy evaluation process requires information specific to a particular jurisdiction. We conclude with recommendations for Vancouver in light of its GHG emissions reduction and 100% renewable energy goals, and comment on the relevance of our findings to other communities in BC. We note that the literature examined is primarily concerned with energy efficiency as a means to achieve modest reductions in GHG emissions, a strategy that is insufficient given the aspirational targets adopted by a number of jurisdictions.

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