For Canada to achieve its 2030 and 2050 climate targets, building owners and operators will need to upgrade, retrofit, and ultimately decarbonize hundreds of millions of square metres of space.
To get there, we will need new or strengthened regulations and policies, significant investments, innovative financing structures, and building-system advances, as well as a focus on energy grid optimization and a steadily increasing carbon price.
To support more deep-carbon retrofits, CaGBC commissioned RDH Building Science in partnership with Dunsky Energy Consulting to evaluate the potential technical pathways to decarbonized building operations, including estimated costs, as well as identifying market barriers and solutions. Above all, the study is geared towards helping equip Canadian building owners and policy-makers with tools and information to scale up and accelerate deep carbon retrofits and supercharge Canada’s retrofit economy.
The research team used whole-building energy modelling to evaluate deep carbon retrofit opportunities across 50 different building archetypes. These archetypes reflect a range of building types (office, multi-unit residential, and primary school), size (low-rise and mid-rise), age (1970s and 1990s) and region (Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver).
For each building archetype, the researchers developed baselines and assessed business-as-usual upgrades—that is, those improvements routinely undertaken as building systems reach their anticipated service life. The researchers then identified and assessed the performance outcomes resulting from deep carbon retrofits and conducted financial analyses of the retrofit measures for each archetype. Finally, the researchers examined best practice approaches for management and procurement, as well as recommended policy and support mechanisms needed to support increased deep carbon retrofit activity.
Canada can decarbonize existing large buildings by 2050 if we start today
Owners of all large buildings can slash energy use by more than 70%
Good news now and on the horizon for deep carbon retrofits’ business case
Cutting energy demand first, especially with enclosure upgrades makes deep carbon retrofits more attractive
The full technical study, as well as a condensed more summary, will be available early December. For any questions regarding the study or to be notified directly about its release and information sessions, please contact us.