CaGBC welcomes Canada’s new vision for a healthy environment and a healthy economy

As the House of Commons adjourns for the year, the Liberal Party has left a parting gift for all Canadians, in the form of a new federal plan that offers a green and clean way to move beyond the pandemic. Released today, A Healthy Environment and a Health Economy provides a roadmap to economic recovery that prioritizes the environment and climate change – not to take away from Canada’s economic progress but to strengthen it.

CaGBC has long advocated for the adoption of zero carbon buildings and a green recovery. Buildings are the most actionable solution to meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – and the fastest route to new job growth. CaGBC research shows that a turn toward greener, cleaner, and low-carbon buildings will actually make Canada more productive, more innovative, and more resilient.

“This is a great day for Canada. The new plan, along with previous government announcements, takes bold and meaningful steps to tackle climate change. It reinforces the pivotal role green building will play in Canada’s economic recovery,” said Thomas Mueller, President and CEO, CaGBC. “The measures proposed will stimulate clean and green job growth and help drive the innovation needed for Canada to be a leader in the global low-carbon economy.”

The plan knits together previous commitments from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and updates to the Greening Government Strategy, providing more detail and some new additions that illuminate the path forward.

One key element is a plan to increase the carbon price by $15 per year starting in 2023 and rising to $170 per tonne by 2030. Such a move will make cleaner options more affordable, discourage pollution-intensive investments and encourage innovation in all industries, including the building sector.

Among the government commitments to accelerate a retrofit economy and normalize low-carbon buildings are:

  • Invest $1.5 billion over three years for green and inclusive community buildings and require that at least 10 percent of this funding be allocated to projects serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
  • Invest $2 billion in financing commercial and large-scale building retrofits, which will be repaid by energy cost savings. This commitment is part of the CIB’s $10 billion Growth Plan.
  • Provide $2.6 billion over seven years to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. This funding will provide grants of up to $5,000, up to one million free EnerGuide assessments, and support to recruit and train EnerGuide auditors.
  • Continue building on successful provincial and territorial retrofit programs aimed at increasing the number of low-income households that benefit from energy retrofits.
  • Continue the work to develop a new model ’retrofit code’ for existing buildings by 2022, with the goal of collaborating with provinces and territories to have this code in place by 2025.
  • Accelerate work to develop and adopt increasingly stringent model building codes, with the ultimate goal of a net-zero energy ready model building code by 2030.
  • Conduct Canada’s first-ever national infrastructure assessment, starting in 2021, to help identify needs and priorities in the built environment, and undertake long-term planning toward a net-zero emissions future.

Commitments included in the plan also prioritize low-carbon workforce development and building innovation:

  • Invest in Canada’s capacity to manufacture energy efficient building products, and in training opportunities to upskill workers and promote the skilled trades.
  • Introduce a new Canada Training Benefit of up to $5,000 for every Canadian to gain new skills and seize the opportunities of the clean growth economy and provide workers with up to four weeks of Employment Insurance while on leave for training.
  • Work with the building materials sector and other stakeholders to develop a robust, low-emission building materials supply chain to ensure Canadian, locally-sourced products are available, including low-carbon cement, energy-efficient windows and insulation.
  • Grow the clean products and services sector through performance standards, investments and incentives.

The plan also includes a commitment of $15.4 million over three years, starting in 2020-21 to create and support the Net-Zero Advisory Body. This new body will consult with Canadians and provide independent advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Through these commitments, the federal government has put Canada on a path to a cleaner, greener and more prosperous future that will catalyze a retrofit economy, normalize low carbon construction and build a diverse workforce. As a leading expert on zero carbon building, CaGBC stands ready to support the efforts of this new committee, and the broader plan.