Climate Ready Requirements for UBC Buildings

UBC's Climate Ready Requirements are part of the Green Building Action Plan's Climate Adaptation component.

Applicable for Tiers 1, 2 and 3A*

Climate Change Context

Current climate models project an overall 3°C increase in temperatures globally by 2050.

Regionally we expect increasing daytime and nighttime temperatures, longer summer dry spells, as well as increased precipitation and extreme weather events(1). These changes have major implications for UBC buildings which have a service life of up to 100 years. 

Higher temperatures will change thermal comfort needs in buildings and stormwater infrastructure will need to be designed to withstand increased quantity and more frequent extreme weather events. New approaches to water use and interior air quality will also need to be considered to accommodate dry spells.

In the context of energy supply for buildings, Metro Vancouver Climate 2050 projects that annual heating demands for buildings will decrease by 29%, while cooling demand will increase to nearly 6 times what is currently required(1). In terms of rainwater management, building stormwater systems and downstream facilities will need to accommodate 5% increase in annual precipitation occurring mainly in the fall, winter and spring with a decreased rainfall in the summer. An unequal distribution of precipitation throughout the year means that there could be an increase in precipitation as high as 11% in the fall(2).  With higher temperatures and more dry spells there will be an increased frequency and severity of regional water use restrictions and increased risk of fire. New approaches to water use and interior air quality need to be considered.

Changes to the design, construction, and operation of buildings and landscapes are necessary to adapt to the future climate at UBC. Through the early integration of up-to-date research into project design, UBC can take action for a more climate adaptive and resilient campus.

2050 Ready

2050 Ready definition:  

  • Design to accommodate a pathway of future adaptive strategies that ensure the building can undergo low cost retrofits in the future to maintain thermal comfort and manage rainfall for the predicted climate in 2050.
  • Design for a climate-adaptive landscape with resiliency to drought and watering
  • Provide strategies for the University to consider in regard to indoor air quality for the predicted climate in 2050 (smoke).

The intent is to identify cost effective design strategies that could be incorporated to address future climate change when the building undergoes routine and recurring maintenance or major renovations.

*Tier 1 Buildings: Large, >1000m2, >$5 million; Tier 2 Buildings: Small, <1000 m2, >$5 million; Tier 3A Major Project Renovations: Renewals (includes envelope and mechanical system upgrades)


Thermal Comfort 

  • New building designs should be 2050 Ready: design teams should outline the pathway for the building to achieve UBC’s thermal comfort requirements for climate change scenarios based on 2050’s projections. 
    • Examples of a pathway include: addressing orientation and window to wall ratio; providing climate responsive landscape design that reduces building heat gain; providing potential to add additional exterior shading; providing a ventilation system that can incrementally increase capacity or has the potential to provide tempered air; providing space in air handlers for future cooling coils; designing heating coils as switchover coils, so they can be used for cooling in the future; roughing in for future cooling equipment inside the building; and limit internal heat gains through high efficiency lighting and equipment.
  • Perform thermal comfort modelling of buildings with PCIC future climate files (2020’s, 2050’s and for 2080’s, RCP 8.5 scenario[1]) with attention paid to the warmest spaces in the building. Modelling should be performed for the months of May to September inclusive and results should be used to inform adaptive strategies to ensure thermal comfort in 2050.
  • For energy calculations, the Government of Canada’s 2016 Canadian Weather Year for Energy Calculation (CWEC) should be used.
  • UBC encourages the use of passive measures to be considered initially and active measures to be considered if needed to reach performance requirements with mixed mode strategies.  It is not sufficient to simply oversize cooling equipment.
  • Buildings must meet all current code and project requirements, design for climate in the 2020’s and be 2050 ready.

Rainwater Management 

  • New buildings should be 2050 Ready: outline a cost effective pathway for new buildings to manage rainfall for the predicted 2100 moderate rainfall patterns for Zone 1 (4) (IDF curves are available per the Study of the Impacts of Climate Change and Precipitation and Stormwater Management by Metro Vancouver in 2018).  
    • Examples of pathways include for provision of area for future detention facility, additional area for absorptive landscape, potential for blue/ green roof implementation, potential black water or grey water recycling, etc. 
  • Buildings must meet current code and project requirements such as LEED requirements, Technical Guidelines etc.

Landscaping and Water Use 

  • Design for a climate-adaptive landscape with resiliency to drought and watering restrictions.
    • Plant native, climatically appropriate trees and other vegetation and climate adaptive landscapes (see Metro Vancouver's Urban Forest Climate Adaptation Framework).
    • Ensure soil depth and other design parameters support landscape resiliency.
    • Where appropriate provide pathways for future alternative water sources and systems, in particular rainwater harvesting and water storage for seasonal irrigation, toilet flushing and/or emergency use.
      • Examples of pathways include roof design for rainwater collection and provisions for installation of future water storage, piping and equipment

Indoor Air Quality 

  • Recommend measures for consideration that maintain interior air quality in the case of smoke events. 
    • Examples might include: potential for high performing secondary filters in air handling equipment or areas of refuge within the building that could have appropriately filtered air.

Schedule for Climate Ready Requirements

The timeline for requirements is tied to project workshops (see the Integrated Design Process).

  1. At the schematic design phase: Step 3A Preliminary Energy and Water Workshop:
    • Provide narrative and approaches to passive and active measures for climate adaptive thermal comfort, rainwater management, water use and indoor air quality. Identify opportunities where cost effective climate adaptation measures can be incorporated into current and future designs.
  2. At design development phase: Step 3C Interactive Energy Workshop:
    • Present thermal comfort modelling results using future climate data at workshop.  Discuss 2050 ready strategies for thermal comfort and rainwater management.
  3. Prior to Building Permit submission: Step 4 Sustainability Reporting:
    • Submit a narrative to describe pathways to achieve climate adaptive thermal comfort and rainwater management for the building project.

Related Policies and Guidelines

(1) Metro Vancouver. 2018. Climate Projections for Metro Vancouver.

(2) Study of the Impacts of Climate Change on Precipitation and Stormwater Management prepared for Greater Vancouver Sewerage and drainage district.

(3) International Panel on Climate Change Glossary.

(4) Zone definition from the Study of the Impacts of Climate Change on Precipitation and Stormwater Management prepared for Greater Vancouver Sewerage and drainage district.