Sustainable Housing Grant Certification Program (Habitation Durable)

The City of Victoriaville, Quebec, long a leader in a sustainable development, undertook a forward-looking program of incentivizing home construction and renovation to both reduce carbon emissions increase resilience to a multitude of climate hazards. This program is optional and based on providing financial incentives in a point-based system. Each resilience measure is worth a certain number of points (for example, hurricane ties are 15 points) and financial compensation is provided based on tiers which are achieved at a certain level of points. There also exists a bonus system for adhering to different types of environmental standards, such as LEED.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This program is not in response to any one specific hazard, but rather an attempt to improve the overall resilience to a broad spectrum of hazards, as well as reduce carbon emissions and improve long-term financial viability in the region. The City of Victoriaville has had a history of progressive and insightful approaches to sustainability, for example the Sustainable Waste and Drinking Water Plans, and was motivated to create other projects in a similar vein. Rather than looking to one report or plan for guidance, the foundation of this work is based largely on the collected knowledge of professionals in a wide range of sectors.

Identifying Actions

In September of 2010, the City of Victoriaville organized a meeting of a multidisciplinary committee comprised of professionals from the development, architectural, building, and environmental sectors. In this meeting, the committee discussed options to improve the stock of sustainable housing in the City. After the inaugural meeting in 2010, multiple other meetings eventually gave rise to the creation of the Sustainable Housing Grant Certification Program (Habitation Durable) in 2011. Working alongside architects, the City created a scientifically-informed grid of features against which new sustainable housing developments would be compared.

Implementation

Each feature of the aforementioned grid is associated with a points score (15 points for hurricane ties, for example). The cumulative points total of all the design features a sample home undertakes then places it into a certain tier, with financial incentives provided based on the tier achieved. The tiers are ‘3 Stars’ for achieving a minimum of 300 points, ‘4 Stars’ for houses with 400 points or more of resilience features, and ‘5 Stars’ for 500 or more accumulated points. Cash incentives range from $3000 for the 3 Stars tier and $8000 for the ‘5 Stars’ tier. There are also bonuses available for achieving other types of certification standards, such as LEED or Novoclimat 2.0. Supporting documents providing evidence for the resilience measures must be provided and 10% of the cash reward is given to the developer or builder who prepared the compliance file.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

As of 2018, 376 new homes have been certified under this program and 838 household renovations have been certified. The program has also achieved high levels of citizen engagement by providing access to building and sustainability experts during and after the construction or renovation to answer questions and provide recommendations that are in line with the scope of the project.

Next Steps

A contact with the City of Victoriaville noted that one of the major lessons learned through this program was the necessity of having strong internal collaborations and ties between various municipal services. The 10% reward to the developers or builders who helped craft the documentation under this program was noted as helpful in gaining support from industry. It was also noted that having a tiered system encouraged participants to implement for resilience and sustainability features in order to reach a higher tier and gain more rewards.

Resources


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This program is not in response to any one specific hazard, but rather an attempt to improve the overall resilience to a broad spectrum of hazards, as well as reduce carbon emissions and improve long-term financial viability in the region. The City of Victoriaville has had a history of progressive and insightful approaches to sustainability, for example the Sustainable Waste and Drinking Water Plans, and was motivated to create other projects in a similar vein. Rather than looking to one report or plan for guidance, the foundation of this work is based largely on the collected knowledge of professionals in a wide range of sectors.

Identifying Actions

In September of 2010, the City of Victoriaville organized a meeting of a multidisciplinary committee comprised of professionals from the development, architectural, building, and environmental sectors. In this meeting, the committee discussed options to improve the stock of sustainable housing in the City. After the inaugural meeting in 2010, multiple other meetings eventually gave rise to the creation of the Sustainable Housing Grant Certification Program (Habitation Durable) in 2011. Working alongside architects, the City created a scientifically-informed grid of features against which new sustainable housing developments would be compared.

Implementation

Each feature of the aforementioned grid is associated with a points score (15 points for hurricane ties, for example). The cumulative points total of all the design features a sample home undertakes then places it into a certain tier, with financial incentives provided based on the tier achieved. The tiers are ‘3 Stars’ for achieving a minimum of 300 points, ‘4 Stars’ for houses with 400 points or more of resilience features, and ‘5 Stars’ for 500 or more accumulated points. Cash incentives range from $3000 for the 3 Stars tier and $8000 for the ‘5 Stars’ tier. There are also bonuses available for achieving other types of certification standards, such as LEED or Novoclimat 2.0. Supporting documents providing evidence for the resilience measures must be provided and 10% of the cash reward is given to the developer or builder who prepared the compliance file.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

As of 2018, 376 new homes have been certified under this program and 838 household renovations have been certified. The program has also achieved high levels of citizen engagement by providing access to building and sustainability experts during and after the construction or renovation to answer questions and provide recommendations that are in line with the scope of the project.

Next Steps

A contact with the City of Victoriaville noted that one of the major lessons learned through this program was the necessity of having strong internal collaborations and ties between various municipal services. The 10% reward to the developers or builders who helped craft the documentation under this program was noted as helpful in gaining support from industry. It was also noted that having a tiered system encouraged participants to implement for resilience and sustainability features in order to reach a higher tier and gain more rewards.

Resources