Canada: Green Building Can Help Meet Emissions Commitments
The Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change requires Canada to meet or exceed its international greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030—but how is still being worked out. A new Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) report, Building Solutions to Climate Change: How Green Buildings Can Help Meet Canada’s 2030 Emissions Targets, describes one potential path that focuses on building efficiency.
“Building on a culture of innovation in Canada’s green building sector, this report demonstrates how we can achieve real results in the battle against climate change by investing in the building sector,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the CaGBC. “Buildings represent the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions, generate positive returns on investment, and stimulate the economy.”
The report finds that re-commissioning, performing deep energy-saving retrofits, installing onsite renewable energy systems, and switching to renewable energy sources in all existing institutional, commercial, and high-rise residential projects of over 25,000 ft2 would enable Canada to surpass its reduction targets, ultimately reducing GHG emissions by an estimated 44% from 2005 levels. This would lower GHG emissions by 19.4 million tons, while having a $35.2 billion direct and indirect impact on gross domestic product (GDP).
The report makes further recommendations to pave the way for such extensive building retrofits:
- Advancing green building benchmarking, reporting, and disclosure could help promote building performance. Greater investment in systems such as the Energy Star Portfolio Manager would help support a wide range of building types and enhance reporting capabilities.
- Investment is needed to establish a National Net Zero Building initiative to help guide the industry. According to the report, constructing all new buildings over 25,000 ft2 to have net-zero carbon emissions would result in a 17% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.
- The government should lead by example by using advanced green building initiatives for the renovation and new construction of its own federal buildings. Utilizing carbon-reduction measures for federal projects over 25,000 ft2 would account for financial savings of $117 million annually and a 480,000-ton reduction in GHG emissions.
Published December 5, 2016