In consideration of setting requirements for low-carbon cement and concrete


August 14, 2020 – Recently, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) shared with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat our industry perspective on the government’s proposed requirements for low-carbon cement and concrete as detailed in their Request for Information EN578-200001.

Such a move would reduce environmental impacts by using life-cycle assessment (LCA) techniques to address embodied carbon in construction and renovation materials. Considering the potential impact of these changes, CaGBC felt it important to provide some overarching constructive feedback on behalf of Canada’s green building industry.

Globally, embodied carbon represents 11 per cent of all energy-related carbon emissions, with most of these emissions occurring at the start of a project. Addressing embodied carbon is imperative if Canada is to meet its 2030 and 2050 climate objectives.

CaGBC supports setting mandatory minimum requirements for the procurement of low-carbon concrete and, starting in 2021 and phasing in over 12 months, requiring that all general-use cement specified by the Government of Canada be Portland Limestone Cement (PLC) or equivalent. We also support the federal government’s proposal to include Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in concrete specifications.

CaGBC has championed LCA and EPDs since before their incorporation into the LEED green building rating system in 2014. In 2017, CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard became the first green building standard to include mandatory embodied carbon reporting. With the release of ZCB Standard version 2 this year, CaGBC has enhanced its requirements, making project teams study reduction options and offset all embodied carbon.

CaGBC supports the government’s plan to implement measures to reduce the embodied carbon of concrete and to require product- and facility-specific EPDs for concrete. This direction is commendable, and we look forward to these proposed requirements, which will achieve environmental objectives and support a competitive and resilient marketplace.