Thursday, February 23, 2012

What comes next after green building?

Now that green building practices have become widely accepted by the global architecture-engineering-construction industry, what comes next? Studies predict that future innovation will be driven by the need to reduce energy use and cost, but the AEC industry will move at a different pace and in different directions, depending upon where you are. Look for Europe to lead in zero energy buildings, while in North America, look for leadership, at least in the short term, in building energy-management systems (BEMS). The reasons are both practical and political. A new report from Pike Research, an American firm specializing in market intelligence for the clean tech industry, tells us that that revenue from net-zero energy buildings was about $225 million in 2011, and will remain fairly flat for a few more years before exploding in 2020 to almost $690 billion, and growing to about $1.3 trillion by 2035. For BEMS, another Pike study tells us that the global market was worth about $1.9 billion globally in 2011. That’s expected to increase to $6 billion by 2020. BEMS is growing faster, sooner than net-zero because it represents the low-hanging fruit. It’s being installed by owners of existing buildings who want to lower their energy costs. Net-zero is growing more slowly right now because buildings meeting that standard generate at least as much energy as they consume, and have to be planned that way from the outset. There is so much involved with getting to net-zero that achieving it through retrofits would be tough. Owners realize the long-term benefits of net-zero, but it’s a long time-line from initial concept to building occupancy. And they worry, too, about higher up-front costs that are incurred before the pay-back begins. They may want to go to net-zero, but it’s probably going to take a legislative nudge for them to actually go in that direction. That legislative nudge already exists in Europe, and project owners are responding. But Europeans have been more concerned and for a longer time, than we North Americans. I wrote recently about the move to net-zero in Belgium’s Brussels capital region, and mentioned the city’s move to Passive standards right now for new public buildings. Not surprisingly, the city is already receiving proposals that far exceed the levels of energy efficiency needed for certification under LEED, and the move is guaranteed to continue because the use of the Passive standard is being extended to all new construction and retrofits in both public and private sectors by the beginning of 2015. It goes further. By 2019, all new public buildings in the European Union will be required to come close to net-zero and all building construction will have to meet the standard by 2021. When the Europeans talk about coming close to net-zero, they’re talking about the passive standards or something very close. Although the EU’s Energy Performance of Building Directive has been agreed upon, they’re still working on some of the fine print, and there is a lobby that wants the union to go all the way to net-zero. That’s because net-zero has, in the words of Pike Research analyst Eric Bloom, “emerged as the ‘holy grail’ in green building design.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Housing Transitional Rules Announcement

Feb. 17, 2012

VICTORIA – New housing transition measures give certainty to an important economic sector and help to keep taxes equitable throughout the transition as the province returns to the PST, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced today.

B.C. will return to the PST on April 1, 2013, meeting the Province’s commitment to return to the PST as quickly and responsibly as possible, while ensuring businesses can plan their training and systems switch-over effectively to apply the sales tax correctly.

Government is announcing new relief measures that will benefit purchasers and builders of new homes. The B.C. new housing rebate threshold will be increased to $850,000, meaning more than 90 per cent of newly built homes will now be eligible for a provincial HST rebate of up to $42,500. It is important to note that the HST does not apply to resale housing.

In addition, to help support workers and communities in B.C. that depend on residential recreational development, purchasers of new secondary vacation or recreational homes outside the Greater Vancouver and Capital regional districts priced up to $850,000 will now be eligible to claim a provincial grant of up to $42,500 effective April 1, 2012.

The housing transition rules help ensure when people buy a newly constructed home under the PST, whether built entirely under the HST, entirely under the PST, or partly under HST and partly under the PST, they will all pay a consistent and equitable amount of tax.


  • B.C.’s portion of the HST will continue to apply before April 1, 2013. Purchasers will be eligible for the new higher B.C. HST new housing rebate, of up to $42,500, and builders will continue to claim input tax credits.
  • B.C.’s portion of the HST will no longer apply to newly built homes where construction begins on or after April 1, 2013. Builders will once again pay seven per cent PST on their building materials. On average, about two per cent of the home’s final price will again be embedded PST.
  • For newly built homes where construction begins before April 1, 2013, but ownership and possession occur after, purchasers will not pay the seven per cent provincial portion of the HST. Instead, purchasers will pay a temporary, transitional provincial tax of two per cent on the full house price. This ensures equitable treatment among purchasers and will help mitigate distortive market behaviour. Builders will receive temporary housing transition rebates to offset PST on materials to help prevent double-taxation on homebuyers.

The transition rules outlined today provide certainty for new-home construction and sales, particularly during the transition period.

For goods and services that will be subject to PST, PST will generally apply where tax becomes payable on or after April 1, 2013. Detailed general transitional rules for goods and services will be available with the full PST legislation introduced in the legislature this spring.

The provincial changes are subject to the approval of the legislature.


Finance Minister Kevin Falcon –“These measures ensure that there is fairness and equity throughout the transition period, and provide a roadmap for the housing industry to make the transition back to PST as smooth as possible.”
“The relief measures announced today are a boost to home buyers purchasing either a new primary residence or a secondary home. At the same time, they help an important job-creator in all parts of the province.”

Quick Facts:

  • Raising the B.C. HST rebate threshold to $850,000 is expected to save purchasers about $60 million in 2012-13. The maximum value rises to $42,500 from $26,250, a 60 per cent increase.
  • More than 90 per cent of newly built homes sold in B.C. are below the new higher rebate threshold.
  • Average amount of embedded sales tax in newly built homes under PST: two per cent.
  • Tax paid by purchasers on an $850,000-newly built home after HST rebate: two per cent.
  • Tax rate on a newly built home during transition: two per cent.
  • The temporary housing transition measures will be in place for two years, until March 31, 2015. The tax only applies to homes where construction begins before the transition date and ownership and possession occur after.
  • The temporary housing transition tax and the temporary housing transition rebates will be administered by the Canada Revenue Agency on behalf of B.C. The Province is administering the grant for new secondary vacation and recreational homes.

More Information

If you have questions regarding eligibility requirements for the enhanced new housing rebates or new rental housing rebates or about the application of the B.C. transition tax or B.C. transition rebate, please call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1‐800‐959‐8287 (English) and 1‐800‐959‐8296 (French) or go to: (English) (French)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Strata Property Regulations Introduced

The Office of Housing and Construction Standards has advised that the new Strata Property Act regulations for depreciation reports and Form B (the Information Certificate) have been made and that certain previously passed amendments to the Act have been brought into force.

The new regulation is available at rat a/regs/OIC-SPA.pdf. Additional information is available at the Strata Property website updated strata property guides are expected in February 2012.

These amendments were made with extensive consultation with the strata community, including strata associations, strata lot owners, professionals, legal experts and the public.

Depreciation Reports Highlights

  • Given the wide range of strata properties, strata corporations will have the flexibility to select the person or team best suited to analyze their particular property. The regulations require that the depreciation report provide the person’s name, qualifications, whether they have errors and omissions insurance and their relationship to the strata corporation.
  • Strata corporations are not required to fund contingency reserve funds (CRF) above the minimum previously required (25% of the operating budget). However, strata owners may now make any additional contributions to the CRF by simple majority vote. (Previously, an annual ¾ vote was required to make contributions to the CRF above 100% of the operating budget.
  • the legislation and regulations are only one component of depreciation reports. education and best practices will also provide information on: selecting a qualified person or team; formatting and presenting a report; securing materials electronically to facilitate regular updating; and best practices in maintaining, repairing and funding common property and limited common property.

Form B overview

the form b has been revised to improve disclosure:

  • By January 1, 2014, strata corporations will be required to provide additional information to prospective purchasers on parking and storage allocated to the strata lot.
  • As well, by March 1, 2012, strata corporations must attach: copies of the strata corporation’s rules; the current budget; the owner developer’s Rental Disclosure Statement, if any; and the most recent depreciation report, if any. With the exception of the depreciation report, none of these requirements are new.

If they choose to do so, strata corporations may use the revised Information Certificate sooner than the required dates.

Regulations for audited financial statements are expected next year. The consultation process identified some timing issues that need to be addressed.

Please feel free to share this information with others you think may be interested. Any updates will be posted to the Strata Property webpage.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Average Price Per Square Foot for Yaletown

Average Price Per Square Foot

1 Bedroom or Less Properties Only

2 Bedrooms Properties Only

3 Bedrooms or More Properties Only

1 Bedroom or Less Properties Only

2 Bedrooms Properties Only

3 Bedrooms or More Properties Only

Average Price Per Square Foot for VW-Yaletown

Monday, February 6, 2012

Average Price Per Square Foot for Vancouver Downtown.

Based on data available as of February 6, 2012
All data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver MLS®. Powered by 10K Research and Marketing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Average Performance for Housing Market in 2012
BCREA 2012 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2012 First Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.
“Modest economic growth at home and abroad is expected to limit growth in consumer demand both this year and in 2013,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist.

BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to increase 2.1 per cent from 76,817 units in 2011 to 78,400 units this year, increasing a further 2.7 per cent to 80,500 units in 2013. The 15-year average is 79,000 unit sales. A record 106,310 MLS® residential sales were recorded in 2005.

"While European sovereign debt concerns and a sluggish US economy will continue to impact consumer confidence, strong demand in the bond market is expected to keep mortgage interest rates at or near record lows for most of 2012,” added Muir.

Home prices in most BC markets are forecast to experience little change over the next 24 months as the supply of homes for sale more closely matches consumer demand. The average MLS® residential price in the province is forecast to edge down 2.2 per cent to $548,500 this year and remain relatively unchanged in 2013, albeit increasing 0.8 per cent to $553,000.

Bank of Canada keeps interest rates on hold

The Bank of Canada kept its trend-setting Bank Rate at 1.25 per cent on January 17th, 2012. This marks the 11th consecutive policy meeting in which borrowing costs have been left unchanged.

While recognizing that the outlook for the global economy had deteriorated and that uncertainty had increased since it released its October Monetary Policy Report (MPR), the Bank also made those same observations at its previous meeting on December 6th.

Economic growth in Canada had more momentum in the second half of 2011 than the Bank projected in its October MPR, but it expects the pace going forward to slow by more modest than previously expected, due largely to factors outside Canadian borders. This reiterates statements made in December 2011. On the upside, the Bank said that “very favourable financing conditions are expected to buttress consumer spending and housing activity.”

The Bank releases its updated forecast for Canadian economic growth. It now estimates that the economy grew by 2.4 per cent in 2011 compared to the initial estimate of 2.1 per cent, owing to the better than expected end to the year.

The Bank projects growth of 2.0 per cent in 2012 compared to 1.9 per cent in the October MPR, and 2.8 per cent in 2013, down slightly from the previous 2013 forecast of 2.9 per cent, with the big picture being that past and current growth estimates have been revised upward at the expense of future economic growth.

“The Bank said it expects the pace of growth going forward to moderate by more than initially thought, but the forecast for growth this year has actually been raised slightly,” said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. “That reflects a weaker than previously expected growth profile for the first half of 2012, followed by an acceleration in the second half of the year.”

“The Bank reiterated that its outlook remains subject to downside risks from the sovereign debt issue in Europe. Recent credit-rating downgrades to much of the euro zone point to potential contagion by way of a drop in financial market liquidity,” he added. “The bottom line is that the Bank rate is not going to be going up anytime soon, and we may see rates lowered should downside risks materialize.”

The Bank noted that “while the economy appears to be operating with less slack than previously assumed, it is only anticipated to return to full capacity by the third quarter of 2013, one quarter earlier than was expected in October.” Overall, inflation expectations remain “well-anchored.”

A number of financial institutions have recently dropped their five-year lending rates to a record low of 2.99 per cent. This is down considerably from the advertised five-year rate of 5.29 per cent when the Bank last met on December 6th, 2011.

The Bank will make its next scheduled rate announcement on March 8th, 2012.