Zero Carbon Building Standards

A made-in-Canada solution

CAGBC’s Zero Carbon Building™ (ZCB) standards are a made-in-Canada framework that makes carbon the new measure of building innovation. Among the world’s first zero-carbon building standards, they recognize the importance of building emissions in reaching national climate commitments. The ZCB standards are an important tool supporting the green building sector’s efforts to decarbonize Canada’s buildings.

The ZCB standards define low-carbon design and operational performance for buildings. They offer both rigour and flexibility, opening the door for all buildings to minimize their climate impact. Buildings of all types, from office towers to arenas, warehouses, multi-unit residential buildings, and schools, have been certified under the standards.

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What is a zero-carbon building?

A zero-carbon building is highly energy-efficient and minimizes greenhouse gas emissions from building materials and operations. Until all emissions can be eliminated, high-quality carbon offsets can be used as a counterbalance.

Access funding and financing opportunities

Governments and investors recognize the importance of decarbonizing Canada’s economy. Zero Carbon Building certification increases access to capital and unlocks asset value for building developments and retrofits.

Financing options include green bonds, green loans, and sustainability-linked loans or mortgages. There are also funding options such as tax incentives, rebates, and grants. A list of federal tax incentives (including air source heat pumps) can be found here and federal funding programs can be found here.  Be sure to check out applicable programs from local governments, utilities and others.

Some programs that explicitly recognize Zero Carbon Building certification include:

Two pathways for buildings

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Zero Carbon Building Performance Standard

The ZCB-Performance Standard™ is used to demonstrate that a building has achieved zero-carbon operations. It requires verification annually.

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Zero Carbon Building Design Standard

The ZCB-Design Standard™ guides the design of new buildings or retrofits of existing ones. It offers a pathway to ensure buildings can achieve zero-carbon once in operation.

Events and education

The Accelerating to Zero series of events and education are specific to zero-carbon buildings. As Canada ramps up efforts to reduce carbon, the building sector must have the knowledge and skills necessary to build to zero and to take advantage of the new opportunities afforded by our new, low-carbon economy.

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Humber Cultural Hub

The art of green building The Humber Cultural Hub (HCH) is part of…
April 2, 2024

Co-operators New Headquarters

The new Co-operators headquarters building located at 101 Cooper Drive, Guelph, aims to…
June 16, 2023

Édifice Jacques-Parizeau

ZCB-Performance certification to guide future Ivanhoé Cambridge projects Located in Montreal’s International District,…
April 28, 2022

Scotia Plaza’s 40 King Street West

Zero carbon building reaches new heights with first ZCB-Performance v2 certification Scotia Plaza’s…
April 28, 2022


Embodied Carbon: A primer for buildings in Canada

This document provides the building sector with the information needed to understand embodied…
March 23, 2022

Decarbonizing Canada’s Large Buildings

2021 report provides a path to zero  For Canada to achieve its 2030…
March 8, 2022

Making the Case for Zero Carbon Building

CAGBC report proves the value of zero carbon buildings  In Making the Case…
March 8, 2022

Accelerating to Zero

Upskilling for Engineers, Architects, and Renewable Energy Specialists Zero-carbon building skills are essential…
March 24, 2017


Forward-looking ZCB-Design Standard guides ambitious market transformation 

Toronto, ON – June 5, 2024 – Today the Canada Green Building Council®…
June 4, 2024

100 buildings certified under ZCB-Standards

The Canada Green Building Council announces that 100 buildings have certified under the…
May 2, 2024

Two projects achieve five consecutive years of zero-carbon performance

Two Canadian buildings are celebrating a significant milestone after achieving zero-carbon operations five…
April 3, 2024

New CAGBC ZCB Interpretation Process

The CAGBC is excited to launch our Zero Carbon Building Standards Interpretations database.…
March 20, 2024

For more information on the Zero Carbon Building Standard.