CaGBC Zero Carbon Buildings Initiative

For Commercial, Institutional and Multi-Family Buildings in Canada




The Executive Summary of the Zero Carbon Buildings Framework is available publically.

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48-page Zero Carbon Buildings Framework.

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The CaGBC launched a Zero Carbon Buildings Initiative in 2016 to champion the move to lower-carbon commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings in support of Canada’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

Phase One

The first stage of this work involved consultation with approximately 50 individuals representing 40 organizations in the building sector to develop a Zero Carbon Buildings Framework. The Framework facilitates broad participation across a range of building types and sizes, provides a clear definition for zero carbon buildings, and establishes five key components for the evaluation of building carbon footprints that are detailed below.

  • A greenhouse gas intensity metric for assessing a building’s emissions, calculated using regional emissions factors.
  • Energy intensity metrics to incentivize the design of highly efficient, reliable and resilient buildings.
  • A peak energy demand metric to encourage the use of “peak shaving” measures.
  • An embodied carbon metric to recognize the importance of building material lifecycle impacts.
  • A requirement that renewable energy be generated on-site or procured directly in order to ensure the addition of clean power generation.

Phase Two

CaGBC launched the Zero Carbon Pilot Program, a two-year immersion program for developers and designers undertaking zero carbon developments in new or existing buildings across Canada. The program is designed to recognize excellence and leadership in the field as well as to inform the development of tools, policies and pathways to accelerate market transformation. The results will assist CaGBC in identifying opportunities to refine the Zero Carbon Building Standard before it is released into the marketplace.

The Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will be designed concurrently with the pilot program and will include specific metric calculations, emissions factors, acceptable forms of renewable and alternative energy sources, and performance requirements. The Standard will provide a process for verification and recognition of new and existing zero carbon buildings in the third phase of work to be completed and launched by CaGBC by the end of the second quarter of 2017.



The following infographic details how
net zero carbon works in an office building.