Canadians call for real action on climate change

Buildings and Homes offer a path forward for new government

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) congratulates our new federal government. Last night Canadians chose urgent and meaningful action on climate change.

As the voice of the Canadian green building industry, the CaGBC is committed to advancing high-performance green building practices. Given Canada’s building stock contributes up to 17 per cent of green house gas (GHG) emissions, the industry can help the new government reduce carbon, create jobs, spur economic growth, deliver cost savings and better quality of life for Canadians.

A low carbon building sector in Canada will require higher standards for new buildings and a commitment to retrofit existing ones. We were pleased to see that the Liberal government pledged to invest $100 million in skills training for energy audits, retrofits and net-zero construction, and to make large commercial buildings more energy efficient with a national competition to create four $100-million long-term funds. This will help attract private capital that can be used for deep retrofits of large buildings. The plan also promised incentives for home owners to undertake retrofits and purchase zero emission homes.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with the Liberal Party on the following recommendations as we move towards a low-carbon economy and sustainable buildings and communities that will benefit all Canadians.

Recommendations

Invest in Canada’s low carbon workforce transition

As Canada transitions to a low-carbon economy, it needs to develop a robust construction workforce with the capacity to develop, construct, and manage high-performing smart green homes and offices. CaGBC is thrilled to see our research validated in that the Liberal Party intends to address the skills gaps with a $100M investment for construction workforce development, ensuring enough individuals are equipped to build low-carbon green buildings.

Use the Canada Infrastructure Bank to Stimulate Canada’s Retrofit Economy

Over 80 per cent of existing buildings will still be in operation by 2030. CaGBC research shows retrofitting these buildings can reduce energy consumption, emissions, and operating costs. However, these improvements require incentives to complement private sector financing. To build the confidence of lenders, the CaGBC introduced the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) to de-risk investments in retrofits.

The CaGBC recommends that the government instruct the Canada Infrastructure Bank to include building retrofits as part of their infrastructure investment strategies by issuing the four $100-million long-term funds to support deep retrofits. This will further catalyze investor confidence and stimulate the economy while significantly lowering its GHG emissions.

Show leadership and innovation with Zero-Carbon Buildings

Research by CaGBC demonstrates that zero-carbon buildings are not only technologically feasible; they are also financially viable. On average, zero-carbon buildings can achieve a positive financial return over a 25-year lifecycle, inclusive of carbon pricing. CaGBC encourages the federal government to continue constructing and operating new buildings as zero-carbon, by adopting CaGBC’s Zero-Carbon Building Standard for all new federal buildings, along with an updated LEED Platinum policy.

CaGBC believes that Zero Carbon Buildings will be an important contributor to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 set by the Liberal Party. The price on carbon will help to make these buildings even more affordable compared to business-as-usual.

Develop national building benchmarking and disclosure requirements

The lack of publicly available data on building performance is often a barrier to energy efficiency improvements. Open access data as demonstrated in CaGBC’s Disclosure Challenge can inform investment decisions resulting in both energy savings and billions of dollars in economic opportunity.

CaGBC recommends that the Liberal party should develop national building disclosure and benchmarking requirement guidelines, informed by industry and best practices or provide a nationally-based program that provinces or territories can join.

We believe that Canada can compete in the global economy while re-affirming its commitment to lowering GHG emissions. Canada’s retrofit economy is well-positioned to provide significant new sources of carbon reduction in addition to wealth generation and job creation over the medium-term. But to get there, we need the right workforce and fiscal incentives in place for the private and public sectors to help the retrofit economy realize its full potential. As Canada transitions to a low-carbon economy, government must prioritize actions that can prepare Canadians to capitalize on this opportunity.