The Case for Commercial Owners

The Case for Institutional Owners

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Canada’s Zero Carbon Building Standard Celebrates First 10 Certifications

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Achieving Zero:
Canadian Success Stories


Why Zero Carbon?

CaGBC launched the Zero Carbon Building Standard (ZCB) in 2017 to prioritize the pursuit of zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A made-in-Canada solution, the ZCB Standard provides a path for both new and existing buildings to reach zero.

Fighting climate change requires bold actions. Actions that demand we think differently about the way we build and operate our buildings. Today, buildings are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, representing 17 per cent of emissions nationally—and closer to 30 per cent when embodied carbon from construction materials is included.

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to effectively eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from all building construction and operations by 2050. To achieve this goal, new buildings being planned today must set zero carbon emissions as their target. Retrofits of existing buildings must likewise emphasize deep emissions reductions. There is no time to wait, we must act now.

Zero carbon buildings are achievable today and represent a great opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions that spur innovation in design, building materials and technology, creating job and business opportunities.


How the Standard works

Carbon recognizes the true climatic impact of buildings and brings to light aspects not considered by simple energy efficiency, including the importance of selecting low-carbon construction materials and energy sources for building operations. In simple terms, the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard assesses the carbon balance of a building. When there are no emissions associated with a building’s operations, it has achieved zero carbon.

ZCB-Performance certification is the confirmation that zero carbon has been achieved, earned by demonstrating compliance over one year of operations; verification is required annually.

ZCB-Design certification provides requirements that guide the design of new buildings and the retrofit of existing ones, to best empower buildings to achieve ZCB-Performance certification. Already, buildings have used ZCB-Design to successfully lead them to zero carbon operations.

Unlike other standards, ZCB is the only one that:

  1. Uses carbon as the main performance metric.
  2. Is broadly applicable to all types of buildings, new and existing.
  3. Recognizes the inherent differences in regional energy sources, including local electricity production.
  4. Is flexible enough to allow all buildings to participate, regardless of age or local grid constraints.

The ZCB Standard was designed with flexibility in mind. Owners of both new construction projects and existing buildings can apply for certification, and ZCB projects now include institutional buildings, offices, multi-unit residential and commercial warehouses ranging in size from 1,800 to 120,000 m2.

Updates coming soon: Zero Carbon Building Standard v2 coming in the first quarter of 2020.


Read more about the requirements
of the Zero Carbon Building Standard

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Register your project

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Zero Carbon Steering Committee Members

Douglas Webber (Chair)
Purpose Building

Sheena Sharp
Coolearth Architecture inc.

Maeri Machado
WSP Canada

Maxime Boisclair

Ryan Zizzo

Wendy Macdonald
Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Matt Tokarik
Subterra Renewables

Darryl Neate
Oxford Properties

Arjun KC
Alberta Energy

Ed Cullinan

Mary Quintana
Brock University

Christian Cianfrone

Morgan McDonald
Ledcor Construction Ltd.

Maria McGibbon
Public Services and Procurement Canada

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