Opinion Poll: Public Views on Sustainability and the Built Environment

Image courtesy PictureBC.

A survey on attitudes toward sustainability and the built environment released today by the Real Estate Foundation of BC found that B.C. residents value green space and support sustainable development, but are sensitive to language and building height.

The survey finds that four in five (81%) of B.C. residents say that the quality of life in their neighbourhood is good or excellent. When asked what community features they were most satisfied with, poll participants cited distance to shopping (74% satisfied), natural and green space (68%) and walking/cycling (67%).

Overall, BC residents are in favour of sustainable design, yet sensitive to building format and language, especially around density. For example, 61% of respondents say B.C. needs more ‘smart growth’ but just 20% say B.C. needs more ‘compact communities’ and only 13% support more ‘high-density communities.’

While nearly half of those surveyed say that ‘all’ or ‘most’ new development in their communities should be single, detached homes, 81% would support at least some compact, high-density development, as long as it is low rise.  

Among the other survey highlights:

  • 56% of respondents are concerned about ‘affordable housing’ – when asked about ‘cost of housing,’ concern jumps to 75%.
  • People are very supportive of more energy efficiency (73%) and green buildings (68%), but terms like carbon neutral (52%) and regenerative design (35%) get less uptake. 
  • There is strong support for more public transit (66%) and sustainable transportation (66%), but people also want more roads, bridges and parking (44%).

The survey was commissioned by REFBC as part of its research on sustainable built environments in British Columbia. Vancouver-based McAllister Opinion Research conducted the poll online in July 2015. The survey is accurate to within +/- 2.4%, 19 times out of 20.