Any building can be green

Even older, energy-inefficient buildings can transform into something better. Retrofitting existing buildings can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and make them more energy-efficient and healthier for occupants. 

According to Pan Canadian Framework, more than 75 per cent of the buildings in 2030 are already standing today. Since buildings have a long life span and are significant contributors to carbon emissions, retrofitting existing buildings for energy efficiency and carbon reductions is the only way Canada will meet its climate commitments.

 

Rising to the climate challenge

New construction alone won’t be enough. CaGBC research confirms it: only by reducing emissions from the billions of square feet of existing institutional, commercial, and residential spaces will Canada meet its 2030 carbon targets. 

CaGBC works with policy-makers and the construction sector to accelerate zero carbon buildings and retrofits. We do this through advocacy, research and education, and through our Zero Carbon Building Program, which includes the Zero Carbon Building Standard.

Canada can slash building sector GHG emissions 17% below 2005 levels by constructing all new large buildings to zero carbon standards between now and 2030.14 The industry could capture a further 51% reduction by retrofitting existing buildings to zero carbon standards.

Learn more about our Zero Carbon Building Program
 

Creating green jobs

 

Retrofitting existing buildings can create jobs that will stay in demand as low-carbon building approaches become the norm. We call this the “retrofit economy,” where demand for energy-efficient, low-carbon building retrofits will stimulate job growth and supply chain innovation.

Retrofits can help Canada reignite the economy post-pandemic. In Canada’s Green Building Engine, our research shows the potential of government investment in a green recovery: 1.5 million direct green building jobs and $150 billion in GDP by 2030.

2030 NO INTERVENTION, 939 179  DIRECT GREEN BUILDING JOBS, 94, 9 G$  DIRECT GDP FROM GREEN BUILDING, 22,5 MT éq. CO2	REDUCTION | 2030 INTERVENTION GOUVERNEMENTALE CIBLÉE, 1 470 032  DIRECT GREEN BUILDING JOBS, 150 G$  DIRECT GDP FROM GREEN BUILDING, 53 MT éq. CO2 REDUCTION
 

Building a retrofit economy

CaGBC, our members and stakeholders, have been building the foundations for a retrofit economy. Here’s how we are doing it:

Benchmarking

Benchmarking

To improve a building’s energy performance and reduce GHG emissions, building owners and managers must know how the building currently performs – and how it compares to similar building types. That’s benchmarking, and it’s a critical part of identifying buildings for retrofit. It can start at the building level, but policy-makers also benefit from a more macro view across a city, province or country.

Some of Canada’s leading real estate owners and managers are championing benchmarking and data disclosure through the CaGBC’s Disclosure Challenge. By tracking and publicly sharing their portfolio-wide data, other building owners can access the information and compare their performance, making it easier to identify under-performing buildings against carbon, energy, water, and waste markers.

Learn more about the Disclosure Challenge
 
 
 
Financing

Financing

Although retrofits are necessary to meet Canada’s climate commitments, retrofits are not happening fast enough. In many instances, finding financing for retrofit projects is a challenge. Unlocking public and private financing options will help to accelerate retrofit activity.

GBCI Canada’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) is one way to diminish investment risk. The ICP framework standardizes the approach to retrofit planning and development to reduce risks and streamline approvals. The associated Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification requires review by a third-party Quality Assurance Assessor like CaGBC . The process assures investors that projects have taken all the necessary steps to achieve energy savings during the implementation period.

Learn more about the Investor Ready Energy Efficiency certification
 
 
 
Workforce

Workforce

If we are serious about retrofitting Canada’s existing buildings to zero carbon standards, we must invest in the workforce. The right training and skillsets are needed to ensure building retrofits deliver on energy and carbon savings.

Even though many cities have declared climate emergencies and put forward aggressive low-carbon building regulations, training and education have not kept pace. CaGBC has been working with stakeholders to identify existing skills gaps and shape new training and education offerings. As a foundational member of the Workforce 2030 coalition, CaGBC joins a group of employers, unions, and educators committed to supporting low-carbon training accessibility and growing the workforce by recruiting those traditionally under-represented in the sector, such as women, youth, Indigenous and racialized communities.

Join Workforce 2030 and help transform buildings – and lives
 
 
Canada Infrastructure Bank uses Investor Ready Energy Efficiency certification for its $2 billion Commercial Building Retrofit Initiative