News Local

Vancouver to scan homes with thermal imaging

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is conducting thermal scans of thousands of older single-family homes to see who’s leaking heat.

Sean Pander, green buildings program manager, said on Thursday the idea came from a resident who told the city about watching neighbours’ roofs on frosty mornings.

Some neighbours would have their roofs covered with frost — a sign of good insulation — while others had clear roofs.

“We began to explore it and found a number of cities in the United States who had effectively used thermal images as a tool to engage citizens and get them to consider voluntary energy efficiency improvements,” Pander said.

“An image of your home that shows you where the heat is being lost gets you going — it helps people understand and personalize it.”

The plan is for camera-equipped vehicles targeting older, owner-occupied homes.

“They use an approach like Google Earth where they load up a thermal camera on top of a vehicle and they would — on a cold night — just drive up and down the streets of the designated neighbourhood and get those images,” Pander said.

This type of greening is also one of the city’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from single-family homes — the city’s estimated 77,000 single-family homes and duplexes represent 31% of all GHG emissions caused by buildings in the city — by far the largest category.

It’s anticipated up to 3,000 homes will be scanned, beginning in April. The goal is to encourage several hundred energy renovations through the imaging.

Imaging data, Pander said, will not be shared with anyone other than the homeowners, who can opt out of the program.

BC Hydro and Fortis BC both offer home energy rebate programs to subsidize the costs of energy retrofits, but Pander said usage of those programs in Vancouver has been low.