Rental Unit Emissions Report Card: Helping Renters Reduce their Carbon Footprint

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Our project supports the City of Vancouver’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions by empowering renters to reduce their carbon footprints. We suggest a “Rental Unit Carbon Emissions Report Card” be mandated to require landlords to share information on utility costs and carbon outputs with prospective renters.

School:

UBC

Course:

Topics in Public Policy (POLI 533A)

Instructors:

  • Kathryn Harrison

City of Vancouver:

  • Brady Faught

Student Team:

  • Sydney Bartos
  • Kael Kropp
  • Karina Valcke-Beckett

Term:

Fall 2022

Summary

*HUBBUB 19 First Place Winner


The City of Vancouver approved the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) in 2020, which aims to reduce carbon emissions in the City by 50% before 2030. Burning natural gas and hot water in buildings currently generates the most carbon emissions in the City, accounting for 54% of total emissions in 2019. To achieve its carbon emission reduction goal, the City of Vancouver must account for all types of units and residents, especially the 53% of Vancouverites who presently rent their homes.

Vancouver renters are a diverse group who range in financial means, from their rental arrangements often share common obstacles in reducing carbon emissions. Renters are more likely to experience financial barriers to implementing carbon emission reduction strategies, with renter households earning lower income on average than owner households. Moreover, the short-term nature of rental arrangements and renters’ insufficient authority to complete renovations might make undertaking more permanent carbon emission reduction strategies less likely. Against this backdrop, our project explores potential policy pathways to reducing renters’ carbon emissions in the City of Vancouver.

An enticing path forward: we suggest the City of Vancouver implement a “Rental Unit Carbon Emissions Report Card” to be shared with prospective renters, ideally including information concerning rental unit utility costs and carbon emissions. This solution could enable renters to make more informed choices when choosing rental units based on associated utility costs and their carbon outputs while potentially encouraging landlords to invest in energy-efficient systems to compete in a more transparent rental market.

Throughout this project, we deepened our knowledge of Vancouver’s rental landscape and municipal legislative frameworks while considering policy feasibility and change-making potential.

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