Heat pumps not electric baseboards in all new homes!
Electric baseboard heat is the single largest use of electricity for most condos. They are egregious wastes of electricity and provide inferior heating characteristics. Virtually all are installed with manual thermostats which wastes much more energy. If programmable heat pumps were required as the building code standard electricity consumption could be reduced dramatically, and heat pumps also have the ability of providing air conditioning during our global warming summer heat waves.
This idea is included in the draft Greenest City Action Plan
I agree that heat pumps provide some great energy efficiency opportunities. I disagree that external heat pump units have to be noisy. They can be very quiet (under 50db). This is especially true of the so-called ductless mini-split systems which are extremely popular in Asia and Europe and are starting to catch on in North America. Manufactures include companies such as Mitsubishi, Daikin, Sanyo, Samsung and Fujitsu. They are extremely efficient and can extract more heat from the air than a resistance (aka baseboard) heater can supply for the same amount of electricity down to temperatures around -18C depending on the model. At milder temperatures, efficiencies are usually 2 to 4 times what a baseboard heater will supply. This certainly covers the Lower Mainland and beyond. You can also apply the advantages of heat pumps to your domestic hot water supply by installing heat pump hot water heaters which are now starting to hit the market. They are made by well known companies such as GE and Rheem. Air source heat pumps are an efficient way to both heat and cool your space and DHW if your climate isn't too extreme. For more extreme parts of the country, it's always possible to with a geothermal heat pump which extracts heat from the ground or a nearby source of water. Unfortunately, the costs are considerably higher.
The problem is with baseboards. They are the worst possible energy efficiency for heating, and do a very poor job of it. Heat pumps are the easiest to retrofit, but ideally new buildings would use in floor heating or built in heat pumps. Programmable thermostats don't deal with the poor heating distribution of baseboards, nor the inherent high energy use when on. While I've cut my baseboard electricity load by almost in half with programmable thermostats, I could cut it another 2/3rds with heat pumps. Heat pumps also provide air conditioning in summer, which is often required in many of the concrete condos in this city. As for noise, poor installation and/or poor quality of some units will cause problems, but if done right the noise of the outside unit is no more than ambient in downtown areas.
Until the noise of the heat pumps can be reduced to below what is currently permitted or the regulations as to their positioning is more tightly controlled (i.e. away from neighbours) I would oppose this initiative. Heat pumps can be particularly irritating to neighbours. Can electric baseboard heaters not be regulated by a programmable thermostat?