An applied research project for low-rise homes that minimize embodied emissions.

Are you building a home in Vancouver? We want to hear about your experience designing a low embodied carbon home. Designers, builders, consultants and home owners are all eligible to apply, and could earn up to $40,000 for their project


10% of all BC’s annual emissions are associated with the embodied carbon of buildings. That’s the extraction, manufacture, and transport of building components, as well as the construction of the building. 

The City of Vancouver have introduced progressive and stringent regulations for operational emissions, and energy efficiency of new homes, however embodied carbon equivalents are currently in their infancy and as yet only apply to Part 3 buildings. 

As part of meeting the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, ZEBx and the City of Vancouver are initiating this applied research project on low-rise homes built to low embodied carbon (LEC) standards.

Project Goals:

  • Identify existing solutions that can be implemented today, for little or no cost premium;
  • Identify materials with high embodied carbon that can be replaced with low carbon equivalents and understand barriers to uptake;
  • Catalyze, inspire and accelerate understanding relating to construction of low embodied carbon homes;
  • Understand where education is needed for widespread adoption of low embodied carbon homes

The embodied carbon of a home can be reduced by choosing low carbon materials, or by making design choices that reduce the materials used in it. Some materials have more carbon than others. Concrete and XPS for example have large carbon footprints, but bio-based materials can have low or negative carbon footprints. Reusing existing buildings or parts of buildings can reduce the embodied carbon of your home even further.

A recent study by the City of Vancouver and Builders for Climate Action found that the average embodied carbon of a home built in Vancouver is 200 kg CO2 e/m2. Some homes have almost double this, and some much lower. 

In this research program, applicants will receive financial support to their project if it achieves an embodied carbon lower than this baseline. In return for the financial support, applicants need to provide information about how they achieved their embodied carbon reductions and what challenges they met along the way.

Applicants will assess the embodied carbon of their home using the Builders for Climate Action BEAM Tool, and free training will be provided to all applicants.

The City of Vancouver is committed to advancing reconciliation, equity, and anti-racism for all people in Vancouver and to fulfill these commitments, this program will prioritize applications from the following self-reporting groups: Black, indigenous or persons of colour; LGBTQ2S+ community; and women.

Translation of documents is available upon request. 


In this research program, applicants will receive financial support to their project if it achieves an embodied carbon lower than this baseline. The greater the reduction in embodied carbon, the greater the potential financial return.

Applicants are required to complete two questionnaires, the level of information provided must be reflective of the project’s embodied carbon reductions. Where the questionnaires do not reflect the embodied carbon reductions, compensation may be reduced to reflect the reduced lessons learnt from that project.

Embodied Carbon ReductionsEmbodied Carbon IntensityFinancial Compensation
30 - 39%121-140 kgCO2e/m2$5,000
40 - 59%81 - 120 kgCO2e/m2up to $15,000
60 - 69%61 - 80 kgCO2e/m2up to $20,000
70 - 79%41 - 60 kgCO2e/m2up to $30,000
80%+<40 kgCO2e/m2up to $40,000

Embodied Carbon reductions are measured against a baseline of 200 kgCO2e/m2. i.e a reduction of 60% is equivalent to an overall embodied carbon intensity of 80 kgCO2e/m2

This table was updated in June 2023 to clarify the compensation bands, however, the target emsision reductions and compensation values are unchanged.

Eligibility Criteria

Before applying, please confirm that you meet all of the eligibility requirements outlined below:

  • The property must be located in the City of Vancouver
  • The building must be a Part 9 building as determined by the City of Vancouver’s Permitting Department, including single and multi-family homes, townhouse complexes, laneways and multi-unit residential buildings
  • The project must be within design or construction phase, and will only be accepted up until completion of foundations
  • The home, or largest unit of a multi-family home must be less than 400m2 (4306 sq ft)
  • The building must satisfy the City’s energy and emissions requirements in effect since Jan 1, 2022

This research program has a strict capacity limit, where necessary, preference will be given for the following:

  • Projects with completed Issued for Construction drawings
  • Rental or affordable housing projects
  • First time applicants to the NearZero stream

Applicants may apply for multiple projects; up to a maximum of 3 are eligible for compensation. Please note, however, preference will be given to those who are applying for the first time, or who only have one application in NearZero Stream 2.

Each project application will be assessed according to the above selection criteria. In applying to the program, the participants acknowledge that the program administrator will have the final decision on selection of projects and financial compensation

Application Process

If further assistance is needed with completing questionnaires please contact: with the subject line NearZero EE

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