Zero Carbon Building – Design

For new construction and deep retrofits

The Zero Carbon Building – Design Standard™ guides the design of new buildings and major renovations of existing ones so they can achieve zero carbon operations.

The Standard is comprehensive and evaluates the anticipated carbon emissions from building operations like heating and cooling. Project teams must carefully consider the embodied carbon of construction materials, refrigerants used in HVAC equipment, and building airtightness. Project teams must also evaluate strategies to minimize electrical grid impacts.

ZCB-Design™ provides enough flexibility to be used for just about any kind of building, as well as for newly constructed additions and attached buildings. For projects that use combustion equipment for hot water or peak heating, a costed zero-carbon transition plan must be provided. The transition plan outlines how equipment will be adapted by leveraging regular equipment replacement life cycles to move toward decarbonization.

In lockstep with the market’s expectations and anticipated regulations, CAGBC released the ZCB – Design Standard version 3 on June 20, 2022. This version addresses critical imperatives including reducing the embodied carbon of materials and eliminating onsite combustion. ZCB-Design v3 establishes a clear path to zero operational carbon and a 40 percent reduction in new construction embodied carbon by 2030.

Projects that registered under ZCB-Design v2 must submit for certification before September 30, 2024, or upgrade to version 3.

Centennial College, render by ATCHAIN Renderings, courtesy of DIALOG

Understanding ZCB-Design requirements

CarbonZero carbon balanceModel a zero carbon balance
Embodied carbonMinimum level of performance required
RefrigerantsReport total quantity
RECs and carbon offsetsProvide quote
Onsite combustionFor space heating, only below -10 C
Provide a transition plan
EnergyEnergy efficiencyMeet one of three approaches
Peak demandReport seasonal peaks
AirtightnessReport and justify modelled value
Impact & InnovationApply two strategies

Register your project.

Getting Started

Pursuing ZCB-Design is simple. Review the Standard and register online. When the project team is prepared to submit documentation for review, the certification fee can be paid online through the project’s profile. For full details, review the ZCB Standards Certification Guide.

When you receive confirmation of certification, be sure to promote your accomplishment. You can refer to the Marketing Support page to strengthen your promotion efforts.


Project fees are based on a project’s certification pathway and size. Fees are not refundable and may change at any time.

CAGBC Member Discounts: ZCB-Design registration discounts are determined automatically based on the CAGBC membership status of the person registering the project online. To be eligible for discounts to the certification fee, the building owner or property management organization must be a current CAGBC Specialist member. For public-private-partnership (P3) design projects, the organization that owns the building or any organization that is a member of the P3 consortium responsible for financing may qualify the project for discounted rates at certification.

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Download ZCB-Design v3 now.

Project resources

Access the Standard and the tools projects need to achieve certification:

ZCB-Design Standard v3

ZCB-Design Standard v2

Registration closed September 30, 2022. Submissions close September 30, 2024.

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Looking for Zero Carbon education?

technical resources

ZCB Certification Guide

This document provides project teams detail on the Zero Carbon Building Standards certification…
April 13, 2023

Embodied Carbon Reporting Template v3

The purpose of this reporting template is to outline the information that is…
June 20, 2022

Energy Modelling Guidelines v3

This document provides supplemental guidance for energy modelling professionals preparing energy models to…
June 20, 2022

ZCB-Design v3 Workbook

In support of the Zero Carbon Building – Design Standard v3 this workbook…
June 20, 2022


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

New Opportunities for Tenants interested in ZCB-Performance certification

A new opportunity is now available for tenants and owners pursuing ZCB-Performance certification.…
February 7, 2024

Expanding the ZCB project information available online

Over the comings months, CAGBC will be expanding the project information publicly available…
January 10, 2024


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

The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation

In May 2018, the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation (JCPI) became the…
December 15, 2020

Humber College – Building NX

Humber College’s Building NX the first retrofit project to achieve ZCB-Design certification Located…
May 28, 2019
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Have questions?