Green Bylaw Amendments

Green Bylaw Amendments

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Amendments to Zoning Bylaws to Support Green Building Technologies and Systems in Electoral Areas 'A', 'C', 'E', 'F', 'G' and 'H'

What is this about?

In 2010, the Regional District of Nanaimo completed a study on Overcoming Barriers to Green Buildings in the RDN, which provided recommendations on how to address potential regulatory hindrances to green buildings in the region. In 2014, the RDN reviewed the current land use bylaws and regulations to identify potential barriers to green building features, systems and technologies, and to propose regulatory changes.

The RDN hosted three Publication Information Meetings on September 16, 17 and 18, 2014 to introduce the proposed changes to "Regional District of Nanaimo Land Use and Subdivision Bylaw No. 500, 1987" and "Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Area 'F' Zoning and Subdivision Bylaw No. 1285, 2002", which are intended to remove potential regulatory barriers to green building features and technologies within Electoral Areas A, C, E, F, G, and H.

The proposed amendments (Amendment Bylaws No. 500.396 and No. 1285.22) received first and second reading at the Regular Board meeting held on October 28, 2014. The staff report to the Board and summaries of minutes of the Public Information Meetings can be found on this page under Reports and References below. A public hearing for the proposed bylaw amendments was held on Thursday, January 15, 2015 in the Regional District of Nanaimo Administration Building.

At the regular Board Meeting held on February 24, 2015, the proposed amendments were adopted and became effective immediately.

What are the changes?

Changes to Zoning Bylaw 500 (Electoral Areas A, C, E, G and H)

  • Allow rooftop solar energy systems to exceed the maximum permitted building height by 0.6 m.

    In all Electoral Areas, except Electoral Area 'F', allowing solar energy systems to extend 0.6 m beyond the maximum permitted height will ensure that such systems can be built on virtually any building, including existing buildings already at the maximum permitted height. On smaller parcels (less than 5,000 m2), this height exemption is limited to 50% of the width of the roof and the system must be affixed to a roof with a pitch not exceeding 3:12. For larger parcels, there are no roof coverage limits. This change accommodates more solar energy systems while protecting views and aesthetic considerations.

     

  • Allow one micro wind turbine system per parcel (1kW capacity or less) up to twice the maximum permitted building height with a minimum setback equal to the height of the system.

    Allowing micro wind turbine systems to exceed the maximum permitted height may enable systems to access adequate wind resources. One over-height micro wind turbine system would be permitted per parcel. A minimum setback from all property lines equal to the height of the system would be required, as well as a minimum 60 m setback from eagle and heron nesting trees. These setbacks are intended to minimize noise and other impacts on adjacent properties, and reduce potential risks to biodiversity.

     

  • Amend the definition of floor area to allow thicker insulation without restricting livable floor area.

    The new definition of floor area will measure floor area from the interior surface of perimeter walls and exclude all areas under roof overhangs. Excluding wall thickness from floor area will avoid calculating walls as livable floor area. Excluding overhangs from floor area will remove a barrier to passive solar design features that provide shade during the summer months.

     

  • Download the brochure here

Changes to Zoning Bylaw 1285 (Electoral Area F only)

  • Allow rooftop solar energy systems to exceed the highest point of the roof by 1.0 m.

    In Electoral Area 'F' only, allowing solar energy systems to extend 1.0 m beyond the highest point of the roof will ensure that such systems can be built on virtually any building, including existing buildings already at the maximum permitted height. On smaller parcels (less than 5,000 m2), this height exemption is limited to 50% of the width of the roof. For larger parcels, there are no roof coverage limits. This change accommodates more solar energy systems while protecting views and aesthetic considerations.

     

  • Allow one micro wind turbine system per parcel (1kW capacity or less) up to twice the maximum permitted building height with a minimum setback equal to the height of the system.

    Allowing micro wind turbine systems to exceed the maximum permitted height may enable systems to access adequate wind resources. One over-height micro wind turbine system would be permitted per parcel. A minimum setback from all property lines equal to the height of the system would be required, as well as a minimum 60 m setback from eagle and heron nesting trees. These setbacks are intended to minimize noise and other impacts on adjacent properties, and reduce potential risks to biodiversity.

     

  • Amend the definition of floor area to allow thicker insulation without restricting livable floor area.

    The new definition of floor area will measure floor area from the interior surface of perimeter walls. Excluding wall thickness from floor area will avoid calculating walls as livable floor area.

     

  • Allow one small wind turbine system per parcel (1kW to 10 kW capacity) with a maximum height of 30m and a minimum setback equal to the height of the system.

    Allowing small wind turbines up to a height of 30 m above natural grade may enable systems to access adequate wind resources. One 30 m small wind turbine system would be permitted per parcel. A minimum setback from all property lines equal to the height of the system would be required, as well as a minimum 100 m setback from eagle and heron nesting trees. These setbacks are intended to minimize noise and other impacts on adjacent properties, and reduce potential risks to biodiversity.

     

  • Allow rainwater harvesting structures up to 2 m in height (up to 4,546 L in capacity) within the required minimum setbacks.

    Allowing rainwater harvesting structures to encroach into setback areas will make rainwater harvesting more feasible particularly on smaller parcels where land available for such systems is limited as well as in situations where existing homes have already been built near or up to setbacks. Limiting the height to 2 m is intended to minimize aesthetic impacts and obstruction of views.

     

  • Download the brochure here

Changes to RDN Board Policy B1.5 - Consideration of Variance Requests

In addition to the bylaw changes, the RDN Board Policy B1.5 "Development Permit Variance Permit, Development Permit with Variance & Floodplain Exemption Application Evaluation Policy", is updated to include consideration of variances relating to green building features, systems and technologies as follows:
  • In cases where renewable solar or wind energy systems, or rainwater harvesting systems result in a building exceeding maximum height restrictions or encroaching into a setback area, a height variance or setback variance may be considered acceptable.
To encourage more green buildings in the region, one goal of this project is to reduce the need for bylaw variances to accommodate green building features, systems and technologies in new development projects or retrofit situations. The proposed changes to Bylaws 500 and 1285 will reduce regulatory barriers to certain systems; however, further variances may be necessary to address site specific constraints or to ensure a proposed system is viable.

Reports and References

Where can I get more information?

Planning Department: 250-390-6510 or 250-954-3798 or toll free in BC at 1-877-607-4111
Email: sustainability@rdn.bc.ca