A graphic illustration of the Vancouver city skyline, with text above that reads: Indoor air quality.

City of Vancouver Indoor Air Quality and Low-Emitting Materials Study


Vancouver, BC

hcma was engaged by the City of Vancouver to study the benefits and challenges of implementing construction and pre-occupancy indoor air quality (IAQ) practices into the Vancouver Building By-Law. The following questions guided our work:

IAQ testing prior to occupancy:

  • Are there other jurisdictions with similar requirements in building code? Or construction IAQ management requirements? What is best practice?
  • Does IAQ testing prior to occupancy provide long term benefits to occupant indoor health? If not, what are effective and reasonable alternatives for code?

Low emitting materials:

  • What is the current landscape for low-emitting materials? Are products widely available and affordable?
  • Are there jurisdictions where low emitting materials are required by code? What, if any, are the challenges associated with implementation or accountability?

Our work included a desktop study to define best practices for both construction IAQ management and low-emitting material specification and procurement. We provided a summary of research on the topic of protecting the quality of our indoor environments in support of human health and wellbeing. We also did a scan of jurisdictions across the country, and some international locations, to understand regulatory structures elsewhere, and engaged an agency to document any barriers to IAQ testing before occupancy.

Finally, we sought input from key stakeholder groups: we designed and facilitated an online survey to gather feedback from relevant professionals and industry associations about current IAQ practices, low-emitting material procurement, and feedback about implementation via building code.

The study results concluded that there are few barriers to embedding IAQ and low-emitting material requirements in the building code.


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