Canada moving forward on zero-carbon buildings 

Jean-Marc Fagelson on April 25, 2022

Zero Carbon

Through research and advocacy meetings, CAGBC demonstrated that decarbonizing large buildings is possible and the tools to do it are available. However, to achieve complete decarbonization of Canada’s built environment, the federal government must demonstrate the political will and make the needed investments.

Released last March, The Emission Reduction Plan (ERP) is Canada’s action plan to achieve their international commitment announced at COP26: a 40 to 45% emission reduction by 2030. On April 7, Budget 2022 provided more details on each strategy will be funded.


Federal Government will lean heavily on the building sector to achieve emission targets

The ERP projects that building emissions will be reduced by 42 percent in 2030 (or 38 MTC02 eq) compared to the 2005 levels. It recognizes the importance of specific policy and programmatic interventions for the building sector that CAGBC advocated for, including:

  • Upgrading building envelopes is a critical energy efficiency and GHG reduction measure;
  • Reducing embodied carbon emissions (from concrete, steel and other construction materials) and Canada needs a low-carbon supply chain;
  • Introducing mandatory policies like net-zero model building codes; and,
  • “Dramatic” growth of the workforce to meet the increasing demand for low carbon construction and renovation.

Investment of $533 million to catalyze the transition to zero carbon buildings

The announcements in the ERP and confirmed in the Budget 2022 affirmed the whole-government approach for the building sector.

  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) will lead the new Canada Green Buildings Strategy and the Deep Retrofit Accelerator Initiative, respectively $150 million and $200 million investments over the next five years.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Develop will receive $183 million for the research and development of low-carbon construction material over seven years.
  • Through the Canada Revenue Agency and NRCan, the extension of the tax deduction for business investments in clean energy equipment to include air-source heat pumps.

These announcements could make a substantive dent in Canada’s emissions, whether through regulation, programming or investment. The devil will be in the details and implementing strong policies and efficient ways to support the industry is crucial. CAGBC will continue to monitor and advise the federal government on issues surrounding the decarbonization of Canada’s buildings. The Council will prioritize the use of transition plans for large buildings, building standards in public programs, and the growth of the low-carbon workforce needed to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.

The time to act is now.

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