Green Building & Land Development

Learn about the different kinds of approvals you need to develop or change land use in Burnaby

The planning division coordinates development applications, including those for rezoning, subdivision and preliminary plan approval (PPA). Submit your application to the planning division for review, including applications for a relaxation to the development setback required per the Streamside Protection and Enhancement Areas Bylaw (Zoning Bylaw Section 6.23).

Phone: 604-294-7400
Email: [email protected]

Submit development applications for single and two-family homes (with no associated rezoning, subdivision or PPA) to the building division.

Phone: 604-294-7130
Email: [email protected]

The climate action and energy division is responsible for ensuring development projects achieve the following:

  1. Protect and improve the health and quality of the environment.
  2. Ensure compliance with municipal standards, codes, bylaws and applicable provincial and federal regulations and acts for the following development applications: rezoning, subdivision/consolidation, strata title, preliminary plan approval, building plan, liquor licence application and the contaminated sites process (per the Environmental Management Act).

Additional requirements may be requested for review. 

Phone: 604-294-7850
Email: [email protected]

Additional requirements

Your land development must also be compliant with the following requirements:

In BC, the Provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy manages contaminated sites per the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulations.

Per new changes by the Ministry of Environment, the City of Burnaby now requires a Site Disclosure Statement along with any Rezoning, Subdivision and Building Permit applications (except internal renovation) with current zoning of commercial and industrial sites (including non-conformant sites), or as requested by staff. 

Helpful resources

The City has policies to prevent silt-laden runoff in construction sites from entering the downstream drainage system and ending up in creeks and lakes.

All construction projects in Burnaby must contact the Engineering Department on whether a Erosion and Sediment Control Permit is required.

To preserve groundwater as a resource and prevent contamination, flooding and sanitary system overflow and groundwater flows must not enter the storm and sanitary sewer systems.

All development applications that involve constructing permanent structures below the water table, including perched, static and artesian aquifers, must include an assessment/investigation of the impact of the proposed activity on groundwater. You must also demonstrate that the proposed works will not impact neighbouring properties or the environment. You may need to include in-situ (in the original place) management of the groundwater and recommendations to address areas of uncertainty or concern.

Learn more about the requirements for groundwater management.

Multi-family residential, commercial, industrial and institutional complexes must meet the City's solid waste and recycling requirements.

Acoustical requirements address the growing population and densification of urban centres while ensuring the health and lifestyle concerns of the community.

Rezoning applications involving the construction of residential units or livable spaces must include an acoustical study of the sound implications at the proposed site. The building must comply with the acoustic engineer's recommendations.

Learn more about the acoustic requirements.

Green buildings

Buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions in Burnaby. To achieve our climate action targets, we are requiring new buildings to be energy-efficient and use low carbon energy sources for space heating and hot water. 

New Zero Carbon Step Code for 2024

Updated: January 5, 2024

On January 1, 2024, the City is updating our building requirements to align with BC’s Zero Carbon Step Code.

Like the Energy Step Code, the Zero Carbon Step Code is a part of the BC Building Code, and both apply to the most common types of new buildings. The Energy Step Code lays out the requirements for energy-efficiency in newly constructed buildings, while the new Zero Carbon Step Code focuses on emissions reductions from those same buildings. 

The Zero Carbon Step Code (ZCSC) was introduced into the BC Building Code on May 1, 2023, providing a tool for local governments to reduce operational carbon emissions from newly-constructed buildings. Burnaby is adopting the ZCSC ahead of the provincially-required schedule to help meet our Climate Action goals.

The ZCSC and Energy Step Code (ESC) are distinct components of the larger BC Building Code. The ESC addresses the energy efficiency of buildings, with higher steps requiring less energy to be used to operate the building. The ZCSC addresses the carbon emissions that result from energy used to operate the building by specifying limits on emissions. These 2 codes work together. The ZCSC supports new construction to use electricity instead of fossil fuels for heating and cooling, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ESC supports a transition to more efficient systems, meaning that those same buildings will consume less energy (whether it’s powered by electricity or fossil fuels), resulting in many benefits, including lower energy bills.    

How does it work? 

ZCSC is based on the following performance tiers:

  • Measure-only (Emission Level 1 or EL-1) – requires measurement of a building’s emissions without requiring reductions.
  • Moderate Carbon (Emission Level 2 or EL-2) – generally requires electrification of either space heating or domestic hot water systems. 
  • Strong Carbon (Emission Level 3 or EL-3) – generally requires electrification of both space heating and domestic hot water systems.
  • Zero Carbon (Emission Level 4 or EL-4) – generally requires the full electrification of a building.

Like the ESC, compliance for the ZCSC is based on energy modelling. The BC Building Code sets the maximum modelled greenhouse gas emissions for each Emission Level. Details of the requirements to meet each Emission Level can be found in the updated convenience copy of the BC Building Code changes.

The Province has signaled intent to incrementally increase ZCSC performance in future BC Building Code updates to meet the Province’s CleanBC target of zero-carbon operations new buildings by 2030.  

New requirements for large (Part 3) buildings - January 1, 2024

Beginning January 1, 2024, the Green Buildings rezoning policy is amended such that all new Part 3 buildings (C, D and E occupancies) requiring a rezoning application must meet the following minimum requirements in Sections 10.2 (Energy Efficiency) and 10.3 (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) of the BC Building Code: 

  • Energy Step Code, Step 2
  • Zero Carbon Step Code, EL-4 (Zero Carbon Performance)

In-stream rezoning applications which have progressed to Second Reading by December 31, 2023 are not subject to the new requirements. These projects proceed through the development approval and building permit process according to the previous rezoning requirements for building energy efficiency and carbon performance.

At present, the Zero Carbon Step Code requirements only apply to those Part 3 buildings subject to rezoning. Check back soon for updated forms and policies. 

Requirements for new small residential (Part 9) buildings, instream applications

  • Applicable to Part 9 residential building permit applications made before the end of 2023.
  • Buildings with residential occupancies that are 3 storeys or less and have a floor area of less than 600 sq. m are considered Part 9 residential buildings. Examples include single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes, rowhouses and small apartments.
  • All new building permit applications must meet Step 3 of the Energy Step Code, which requires builders to engage an energy advisor early in the process, undertake energy modelling and air tightness testing.
  • Additional administrative requirements include an extra mid-construction airtightness test and building energy labelling.
  • No carbon performance requirement.

Under the Zero Carbon Step Code, there are 2 compliance pathways for Part 9 buildings to choose from:

This approach requires the builder to declare the equipment the new home will use for space heating, hot water and cooking will use electric power. The mechanical systems and equipment selected for space heating and hot water cannot use fossil fuels at the Strong and Zero Carbon Performance steps. Cooktops which use fossil fuels are allowed at EL-3 - Strong Carbon Performance (Burnaby’s 2024 standard), but are not allowed at EL-4 - Zero Carbon Performance (Burnaby’s standard for 2025 and beyond) when following the prescriptive compliance pathway. 

This approach uses energy modeling to demonstrate how the new home will meet a specific greenhouse gas intensity (GHGi) metric. As of January 2024, the model used for Part 9 buildings does not specifically disallow natural gas fireplaces or cooktops, so these amenities are still possible to have installed in a home which meets both EL-3 Strong and EL-4 Zero Carbon Performance. 

Under the performance-based pathway, an energy modeling exercise demonstrates the expected amount of greenhouse gases a building will emit on a floor area basis per year, expressed as a GHGi metric. The model considers sources of energy (natural gas versus electric), along with the building’s mechanical systems and equipment for space heating and cooling, ventilation, hot water and cooking. Higher ‘steps’ or Emission Levels of the Zero Carbon Step Code require less GHGi. While the allowable amount under EL-4 Zero Carbon Performance is the lowest, it is still larger than zero- this reflects that while BC’s electricity grid is very low-emissions, all sources of power emit some small amount of GHGs.

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