Federal Submissions

As the voice of the green building industry in Canada, the CaGBC provided submissions to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s "Let’s Talk Climate" portal, to the Working Group on Specific Mitigation Opportunities (composed of members of federal, provincial and territorial governments), and to the 2017 Pre-Budget Consultations.

These recommendations will advance our mission to transform and grow Canada’s sustainable building industry and real estate sector, create jobs, and develop green expertise while positioning Canada as a leader in the global green economy. The proposed measures will also contribute to economic growth in Canadian communities while reducing the burden and future cost associated with climate change.

To substantiate our recommendations, the CaGBC commissioned analyses on the carbon reduction potential of the building sector with WSP and on investment and economic opportunities with Acton White Associates. These research documents will be made publically available as a CaGBC report in fall 2016.

Our recommendations focus on four key areas which we consider critical in significantly reducing 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 2030:

  • Meeting Canada’s climate change targets to achieve up to 40 per cent GHG emission reductions from existing buildings by incentivizing and investing in energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy options;
  • Strengthening Building Performance by advancing building energy benchmarking, reporting and disclosure initiatives as a fundamental strategy to engage building owners to measure energy use and invest in improvements;
  • Reducing the Government’s GHG emissions by adopting advanced green building standards for federal building renovations, new construction and leased properties; and
  • Investing in Net Zero Buildings by creating a National Standard to guide the industry in building net zero carbon buildings and neighbourhoods.

Recommendation #1: Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Targets

In order to reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, building owners in both the public and private sectors must dramatically accelerate building energy efficiency improvements. The CaGBC recommends the following specific initiatives for buildings over 25,000 square feet:

  • Recommissioning of 80 percent of buildings that have yet to undertake this activity;
  • Deep retrofits of 60 percent of buildings, ensuring that key building systems such as lighting, HVAC and envelopes are upgraded;
  • On-site renewable power generation should be installed in 40 percent of buildings which, in combination with recommissioning and deep retrofits, can achieve emissions reductions of 36 percent; and
  • Switch building systems to use lower-carbon fuel sources in up to 20 percent of buildings which are predicted to achieve a 44 percent reduction in emissions for the sector when combined with earlier measures.

Deployment of these improvements can be accelerated by the development of a suite of grant programs and tax incentives, technical assistance and pilot projects.

The estimated net present value of all GDP impacts of these improvements would be $261 billion by 2030 and employment gains from building upgrades are anticipated to average 328,484 equivalent full-time jobs annually.

Recommendation #2: Strengthening Building Performance through Energy Benchmarking

Energy benchmarking is a foundational tool for measuring energy use and year-over-year GHG emissions reductions in existing buildings and provides data that building owners need to strategically invest in improvements in operations, technology upgrades and retrofits

Both public and private sector building owners can demonstrate measurable success in achieving GHG reductions goals by implementing energy benchmarking, reporting and disclosure. The development of a standardized approach to energy benchmarking will simplify the process of policy development and implementation through a streamlined approach, and provide reliable data that will support the pursuit of strategic investments in achieving building improvements and energy and GHG emissions reduction targets

The federal government can demonstrate leadership in achieving GHG reductions goals by mandating energy benchmarking for all buildings in its portfolio. Energy benchmarking and associated data will provide the government with:

  • Access to key data on the performance of its buildings, enabling targeted improvements to building operations and retrofits;
  • Improved energy conservation awareness among the civil service; and
  • A measured framework and outcomes to demonstrate that the federal government is taking action toward achieving climate and energy goals.

Recommendation #3: Reducing the Government’s GHG Emissions 30 per cent by 2030 through Advanced Green Building Standards for Federal Building Renovations and New Construction

Implementing carbon reduction activities for federally-owned buildings over 25,000 ft2, which account for almost 3 percent of building sector emissions, would demonstrate leadership and a significant commitment to achieving Canada’s GHG 30 percent reduction by 2030 target. The following are some specific actions the federal government can undertake to reduce its GHG emissions:

  1. Establishing high-performance targets for energy efficiency to help the government achieve maximum carbon reduction benefits, for both the construction and operating components, through investment in federal infrastructure;
  2. Mandating that 60 percent of all government-owned buildings that are undergoing significant renovations by 2020 be assessed and prioritized for their potential to meet high performance green standards;
  3. Further improving highly efficient buildings by achieving zero carbon targets through a renewable or low carbon energy option and using these as demonstration projects for the industry; and
  4. Defining strong leasing requirements and infrastructure program guidelines for buildings, such as LEED Platinum or zero/carbon targets.

Recommendation #4: Developing Net Zero Buildings

Net zero policy development in Canada is in its early stages and CaGBC is working on defining the parameters for the Canadian context. To this end, CaGBC has established a national Working Group, including federal government representation that engages leading Canadian building energy experts to:

  1. Define net zero and develop metrics for use by the Canadian industry;
  2. Identify pathways for the industry to move toward net zero construction and retrofit; and
  3. Develop a standardized verification and monitoring protocol to ensure performance targets are being met and maintained over the life of a building.

The federal government should support a National Net Zero Energy Building Initiative to create a Canadian standard to guide and support developers, owners, designers and builders in building net zero buildings and neighbourhoods. With current advances in innovation, it is reasonable for the government to be a leader by setting a net zero target for new government-owned and leased buildings.

The Canada Green Building Council will continue to work with the Government of Canada over the coming months to provide advice on the most effective solutions to grow the green economy and reduce emissions in the building sector, as well as provide advice on the policy levers to ensure that these changes are achieved in time to meet Canada's GHG targets.