CaGBC study highlights gaps in zero carbon training for building-industry professionals

Study examines upskilling needs of engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists for zero carbon; provides key considerations for government, education and training providers, accreditation and professional bodies.

Ottawa, ON – April 30, 2020 – Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) today released a new study that shows the building industry still has work to do to ensure professionals have access to the skills and knowledge required to deliver zero carbon buildings at scale.

Canada has committed to reaching a 30 per cent reduction below 2005 levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, intending to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The building sector has an opportunity to play a crucial role in meeting these targets.

"Transitioning to zero carbon buildings offers significant emissions reductions, but it also requires a shift in thinking and practice across the building sector," said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of CaGBC. "Skilled job training is a critical element in shifting the industry toward a knowledgeable and prepared application of zero carbon building practices which will make a positive impact on Canada's climate goals."

Zero carbon buildings provide a proven pathway to achieve much-needed carbon reductions. However, the successful transition to zero carbon requires specific skills and knowledge. Building to a zero carbon standard can be more complex and demands that project teams work more collaboratively, from design through to completion and operation.

Building on an earlier CaGBC report entitled Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future, this new study looks at the training and education needs of engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists.

In Accelerating to Zero: Upskilling for Engineers, Architects, and Renewable Energy Specialists, CaGBC leveraged its Zero Carbon Building Standard to define the core competencies and sub-competencies needed to support zero carbon building by building industry professions. The report establishes an industry baseline of zero carbon building skills and knowledge among engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists. This was achieved as a result of 318 survey respondents who self-reported their perceived knowledge and practical experience for the competencies, helping to identify knowledge and skills gaps. In addition, CaGBC tracked preferred learning approaches and available training and education to better understand what opportunities exist for upskilling around these zero carbon competencies.

Barriers to skills acquisition

The study found that barriers to zero carbon skills acquisition still exist. Further, it suggests that the building sector needs to prioritize the development of zero carbon building competencies for engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists – especially given their decisions early in the building process play a significant role in achieving a zero carbon building.

The study also highlights key considerations for education and training providers, accreditation and professional bodies, and policy decision-makers. These considerations include:

Ensure Education and Training is Relevant and Accessible

To address the need for zero carbon workforce upskilling, education and training providers, as well as accreditation and professional bodies, are encouraged to act on the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure education and training curricula address zero carbon building competencies.
  2. Support upskilling by establishing common terminology for courses and by investing in self-assessment tools.
  3. Drive enhanced professional credentialing requirements.
  4. Invest in, develop and support multiple delivery methods and formats.

Support and Invest in Education and Training for Zero Carbon

Policy decision-makers are encouraged to act on the following recommendations to maximize zero carbon building uptake:

  1. Demonstrate leadership through government-wide learning.
  2. Address gap for in-person learning with targeted incentives.
  3. Support the adoption of zero carbon building codes and related training and education.

To review the detailed list of considerations, visit cagbc.org/upskill to read the Executive Summary or access the report.

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About CaGBC

CaGBC is the leading national organization dedicated to advancing green building and sustainable community development practices. As the voice of green building in Canada, CaGBC works closely with its national and chapter members in an effort to make every building greener. CaGBC reduces environmental impacts from the built environment through project certification, advocacy and research, and has helped meet the demand for skilled workers by providing green building education to more than 30,000 professionals across the country since 2002. CaGBC established the LEED® green building rating system in Canada and developed the country's first Zero Carbon Building Standard. It also oversees the Canada Coalition for Green Schools and is a member of the World Green Building Council supporting international efforts to reduce environmental impacts from the built environment. For more information: cagbc.org.

About the Zero Carbon Building Standard

Developed by the Canada Green Building Council, the Zero Carbon Building Standard is made-in-Canada solution designed to be broadly applicable to help any type of new and existing building achieve zero-carbon. A zero-carbon building is a highly energy-efficient building that produces onsite, or procures, carbon-free renewable energy or high-quality carbon offsets to balance the annual carbon emissions associated with building materials and operations. For more information CaGBC.org/zerocarbon.

Read our reports:

Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future

Making the Case for Building to Zero Carbon

Environment and Climate Change Canada | Environnement et Changement climatique Canada