UBC Graduate Research

Enhanced Environmental Resilience for REAP 4.0 : Connecting Biodiversity, Stormwater and Climate Change Adaptation Schaan, Grace; Amorocho, Vanessa; Ord, Annika; Pomerantz, Celeste; Ren, Shuoqi


UBC has designed the Residential Environmental Assessment Program (REAP) to align with the University’s objectives for sustainable development and climate action. REAP is like the energy efficient building code known internationally as LEED though the defining difference is that REAP is only for residential buildings on the UBC campus. The REAP program functions by setting preconditions that must be met for proposed development of new residential buildings. There are additional credits that can also be gained by meeting different criteria of sustainability. The current version, REAP 3.2, was published in 2020 and the next edition, REAP 4.0, is set to be released in the next few years. With future climate scenarios in mind, the creation of REAP 4.0 poses an opportunity to increase the resilience of the UBC campus by evaluating the existing document and making recommendations for improvement. For the purposes of this project, resilience will be defined as “the capacity to develop and sustain human well-being in diverse contexts in the face of…change…through adapting or transforming in response to change” (Folke, 2016, 13). This project considers methods that combine biodiversity, stormwater mitigation, and climate adaptation and that work in unison to increase climate adaptation and resilience on the UBC Vancouver Campus. In order to do so, we worked from the existing REAP 3.2 Reference Manual (UBC, 2020) and looked for gaps in the credit system to develop recommendations. We accomplished this through the following methods: analyzing the REAP 3.2 credits, conducting a literature review, interviewing UBC faculty members, incorporating social-ecological systems (SES) concepts. This allowed us to create REAP 4.0 recommendations that tied together stormwater management, biodiversity, and climate adaptation. An analysis of the stormwater preconditions and credits in the existing REAP 3.2 policy exposed several gaps that could be addressed in REAP 4.0. First, the current policy does not mention greywater use or harvesting stormwater. The current policy highlights a desire to “reduce potable water use associated with irrigation” in W P2 and reduce the total amount of potable water used in W Credit 1.1 (UBC, 2020, 37). Adding separate preconditions for stormwater harvesting and greywater use would contribute to reducing the total amount of potable water used and the amount associated with irrigation. These recommendations are put forth to increase the sustainability of the REAP buildings particularly to adapt to climate change. Meadows (2009) suggests intervening in a system by making changes at leverage points such as buffers which stabilize stocks relative to their flows. Greywater use and stormwater harvesting can be considered buffers as they buffer the effects of both heavy rainfall and drought in a social-ecological system. Moreover, despite requirements to detain stormwater using LID and green infrastructure on-site in REAP 3.2, recommendations connecting biodiversity and LID can be further addressed in REAP 4.0. First, we found that current policies do not address on-site stormwater pollution reduction. Adding a credit on the use of sequential LID devices can improve the quality and quantity of runoff from rainfall events. Second, stormwater management policies could benefit from involving the biodiversity section by integrating ecological plantings of native plants and adding structural heterogeneity to LID techniques. We recommend the use of enhanced bio-LID, or Bio-SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems). These could include bioretention basins coupled with tree boxes, rocks, poles, and logs, to increase habitat conditions heterogeneity for small insects and invertebrates. Trees will also help with the retention of stormwater. Building biodiversity in residential areas is a bridge between humans and nature. It is a way to enhance the human living environment, conserve and restore natural health, and support community sustainability and resilience. We identified some potential aspects missing in the biodiversity section of REAP 3.2, including mitigation of negative impacts of building construction, emphasis on structural planting of native and edible species with comprehensive consideration for climate change, and adding cultural ecosystem services for the residents. These recommendations also support stormwater management and climate adaptation. Firstly, various mitigation practices should be implemented before, during, and after construction. The “Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction” (2015) from the City of Ottawa can be referenced for this purpose. The main goal is to mitigate the impacts and compensate biodiversity loss generated from construction. Secondly, building community gardens in the residential buildings’ areas is a way to add cultural ecosystem services for the residents with various benefits. While designing community gardens, equitable access and plant selections should be considered at the same time. Thirdly, realizing structural diversity and planting species with more comprehensive considerations like climate adaptation, food security, and supporting wildlife and ecosystem functions are good directions for species selections. Within the biodiversity section of this paper a reference list we created can be found recommending species based on the plant information. Climate adaptation is a key piece in the REAP 3.2 manual and a major category in which credits can be accumulated. All REAP buildings must be built to meet the requirements for weather data for both present weather conditions and to accommodate for future weather conditions (UBC, 2020; PCIC, 2021). Of the four preconditions under climate adaptation, the Enhanced Resiliency precondition is the area in which the most connection to both the stormwater and biodiversity areas. However, under the Enhanced Resiliency credit, REAP states that there are no current resilience strategies being adopted while stressing the importance of having these strategies be cost-effective (UBC, 2020). According to the BC Housing Energy Step Code and the Mobilizing Building Adaptation and Resilience (MBAR) papers, planting external vegetation not only reduces local temperatures outside buildings but is also one of the most cost-friendly options for infrastructure (Strebly, 2019; BC Housing, c). Other design features that should be considered for improved climate adaptation include integrating deciduous trees as a means of passively cooling residential spaces, increasing biodiversity, and aiding with the absorption of rainwater are green roofs and living walls. Neither green nor living roofs are mentioned in any of the climate adaptation literature for REAP 3.2 but are mentioned in the On-Site Rainwater Management (W 2.1) credit as a recommended strategy as well as in the biodiversity section under Site Green Space credit (BIO 2.1). Studies have shown that green roofs have major cooling effects for both interior and exterior environments (Dong, 2020; La Roche, 2020). Through our research, we have identified a number of guiding principles to consider when designing REAP 4.0. Firstly, it is important to identify the target outcomes and work backwards to design strategies. Secondly, while the REAP policy is a useful credit and guide, it does not provide the guidance and contextual information that may be needed to effectively identify or implement appropriate design strategies on a case-by-case basis that could be provided by consulting with experts (Forestry interviewee, 2021). Furthermore, for strategies to be long lasting and effective, we need to provide adequate training, resources, and personnel to support and care for these projects. Lastly, we want to encourage UBC and developers to be creative in implementing the REAP policy. In urban landscapes, we often see repeating landscape forms due to lengthy permitting processes and institutionalized design standards (Forestry interviewee, 2021); however, these configurations may not be the most effective at managing stormwater, biodiversity, or climate adaptation. Future research should take into account: the possible eco-gentrification that may arise out of REAP, the need for institutional support backing the implemented strategies, how to ensure inclusivity and equity, how to establish biodiversity offsets to compensate for loss through land development, and the importance of reducing human-wildlife conflicts. Through employing strategies that link biodiversity, stormwater mitigation, and climate adaptation, REAP 4.0 will be better suited to deal with the present and future challenges of climate change and support climate resiliency on campus. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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