Ask the Expert: André Cazelais
For over 30 years, André Cazelais has been at the forefront of the City of Montréal’s efforts to adopt and encourage green building policies. He was instrumental in the development and launch of the City’s 2009 Green Building Plan, requiring all new City buildings to obtain LEED Gold certification, and resulting in almost 40 new LEED-Gold buildings. In 2020, Cazelais and his team reviewed and updated the existing policy to target the elimination of 30,000 tonnes of CO2e, aligning with the City’s 2020-2030 Climate Plan. Cazelais also led an initiative requiring external professionals working with the City to obtain LEED accreditation, developing a labour pool capable of successfully delivering LEED certified projects. A passionate advocate for CAGBC, Cazelais has received numerous awards recognizing his work advancing green building practice, including winning the 2023 CAGBC Award for Government Leadership.
Tell us about your department and your role within it.
I am head of the Ecological Transition and Innovation Department the City of Montréal’s building planning and management department. Made up of around twenty passionate sustainable development experts, my team’s main focus is to decarbonize Montréal’s real estate stock by 2040. This is an ambitious mandate that requires consolidating the team’s know-how and ensuring that department staff are all pulling in the same direction and serving the realization of innovative, efficient and sustainable projects for the benefit of Montréalers.
Thinking about your experience with green buildings, is there a project you are most proud, and if so, why?
To tell the truth, there are two major projects that I am most proud of. First one is a built project: the Montréal soccer stadium. It is an exemplary innovative wood project that’s and unique in the world that was certified LEED Gold for New Construction and was part of an architectural competition.
The other project, I would say is the Sustainable Development Policy in municipal buildings which was approved by elected officials in 2009 and led to the certification of more than 40 LEED certifications. This policy was reviewed and updated in 2021.
What challenges/opportunities do you see for Montréal as we move closer to 2030 and meeting Canada’s carbon targets?
I lead decarbonization projects for municipal buildings, and we have to decarbonize nearly 300 buildings in less than 10 years, with a special focus on operational carbon. The challenge is colossal in terms of budget as this initiative is estimated at over $800M in addition to the needed human resources. The next step will surely be embodied carbon on our projects.
You received the 2023 award for Government Leadership as part of CAGBC’s Leadership and Green Building Excellence Awards. What does it mean for you to be recognized in this way?
I am very proud of this recognition after more than 33 years with the City of Montreal and 20 years of involvement in green building in Quebec. I believe this recognition will allow me to accelerate the ecological transition within the municipal machine and stress the necessity and urgency of sustainable building practices.
Sponsor Question: You led an initiative that enabled workforce development for LEED-certified projects. In your opinion, how can we best develop a pool of qualified labor capable of successfully carrying out sustainable building projects?
CAGBC and Bâtiment durable Québec must collaborate closely to increase the level of skills in green building among architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors. Also, materials suppliers and professionals need to work more with life cycle analyses (LCA) to make the right choices about embodied carbon. For the 600 employees of City of Montréal’s building planning and management department, we are implementing an ambitious and diversified training program on sustainable building.