Carbon and climate at the forefront in 2021


CaGBC to build on last year’s successes to accelerate zero carbon transformation

CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Program marked another successful year in 2020. The program helped drive the building sector toward carbon reduction through education and engagement, research and advocacy, and the Zero Carbon Building Standard. CaGBC’s goals for the year ahead are even more ambitious.

The program will draw momentum from the knowledge and commitment of CaGBC and committee members, and the changes happening across public and private sectors. The policy environment has never been more favourable, with governments at all levels pushing towards decarbonization by 2050. At the federal level, policy announcements such as the Greening Government strategy update and the new Climate Action Plan demonstrate how decarbonization is being put into action. The pace of change is accelerating, and CaGBC is leading the way for the buildings sector.

Updates will address building additions and more

CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard has proven that zero carbon buildings are technically feasible and financially viable. Adoption is accelerating, and the year 2020 closed with 24 certified buildings, split evenly between ZCB-Design and ZCB-Performance.

The updated certification requirements introduced in March 2020 have been positively received, reflecting the valuable input of many stakeholders. CaGBC is now working on addenda that will make ZCB even more accessible. Due out in the spring, these updates will address additions and attached buildings, as well as clarifying requirements for thermal energy demand intensity (TEDI) in new labs, hospitals, and other buildings with excessive heating or ventilation loads.

Variety of building types achieving certification and demonstrating performance annually

The ZCB Standard is being successfully applied to a wide range of building types. Among the standout projects in 2020 were an iconic 68-storey office tower in Torontoa state-of-the-art firehall in Vancouverindustrial warehouses in Nova Scotia and Quebec, and an arena in Ottawa.

With government programs and financing targeting existing buildings, it is gratifying to see great retrofit projects such as the MacKimmie Complex Redevelopment at University of Calgary and Lemay’s Phenix project in Montreal achieve certification.

ZCB-Performance projects are committed to demonstrating zero-carbon operations on an annual basis. In 2020, we saw projects earn their second or third ZCB-Performance certifications. Among these repeat performers were the Montreal headquarters of Rayside Labossière architectes and Mohawk College’s The Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation.

Great opportunities coming to further your zero carbon knowledge

The year is off to a quick start with the launch of the Zero Carbon Core Concepts Education program, providing on-demand access to the foundational knowledge and skills required to successfully deliver a zero carbon project. Courses that dive deeper into aspects of decarbonization will follow later in the year.

You can also look forward to an exciting schedule of Accelerating to Zero virtual events that will bring together experts at the forefront of zero carbon building. The events will allow you to learn from successful project teams, or explore hot topics including retrofits, embodied carbon, and carbon offsets. Visit to learn more.

Interested in contributing to our events? Email