Major renovations make low-income homes more energy efficient

October 10, 2013

Major changes are in the works for 13 of the single room occupancy hotels BC Housing owns in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community. Through a public-private partnership, these buildings are undergoing renovations that will ensure they are energy efficient and protected over the long term for the low-income residents who call them home.

“These 13 buildings are all over 100 years old and have mechanical, plumbing and electrical infrastructure that requires updating,” said BC Housing’s Senior Project Manager Robin Latondresse. “When renovations are finished all the buildings will have new boilers; the buildings will be sealed which will make them more efficient; and new plumbing and electrical will make sure the systems are reliable. The maintenance costs and energy savings will be significant, as will the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The SRO Renewal Initiative is an example of a major business decision integrating sustainability principles. One of the strategies of BC Housing’s livegreen Housing Sustainability Plan is to fully integrate sustainability into all business areas and activities by developing standards, policies, guides and resources to facilitate this process.

The 13 SROs are being renovated in a phased approach and their heritage value will be preserved. The first three buildings to undergo repairs have surpassed the 60 per cent recycling targets for renovation and construction waste mandated by government.

“About 900 people, many of whom have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness, live in these buildings,” said Latondresse. “The renovations will definitely make their lives more comfortable by reducing drafts, providing better heating, and making sure there is a reliable supply of water to each unit.”