by Brianna Crandall — March 27, 2017 — The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) was pleased to see the Canadian Federal Budget 2017 support a low-carbon innovation agenda. The CaGBC views innovation in green building as key to accelerating the move to a low-carbon economy and meeting Canada’s 2030 emission reduction targets.
The 2017 Federal Budget provides greater detail on how the government will be investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure, including a number of key investments directed at increasing energy efficiency and encouraging net-zero energy buildings and related industries, including these highlights:
- $182 million to develop and implement new building codes to retrofit existing buildings and build new net-zero energy consumption buildings across Canada
- $67.5 million over four years to NRCan, starting in 2018–19, to renew and continue existing energy efficiency programs; additional NRCan funding includes:
- $39.8 million over four years to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects (for example, in mid-rise commercial and industrial buildings) helping to create new markets for sustainable Canadian products
- $13.5 million over five years to provide expertise to other federal departments in the best approaches to: implement energy efficiency and clean energy technologies, retrofit federal buildings, and reduce or eliminate emissions from vehicle fleets
- $200 million to support the deployment of emerging renewable energy
- $100 million to support next-generation smart grid, storage and clean electricity technology demonstration projects
These initiatives are in line with CaGBC’s own innovation strategy, which includes the launch of Canada’s first Zero Carbon Building Standard by the CaGBC this May, energy benchmarking training programs across the country, and new research outlining the potential economic and environmental impact of retrofitting of existing buildings.
However, while Federal Budget featured many commitments aimed at propelling the clean economy, it fell short of taking full advantage of the potential emissions reductions opportunities the Canadian building sector has to offer, says the CaGBC.
Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of the CaGBC, stated:
The CaGBC is encouraged to see that the federal government is investing in green building, specifically in its own portfolio, and in developing the codes, skilled jobs and renewable energy technology that will be required to support retrofitted and net-zero energy buildings. While this leadership is a strong step forward, the green building industry wants to see bolder action. The urgency of climate change demands ambitious and accelerated deployment of solutions.
Building codes are an important stepping stone, but at the same time, innovation toward low-carbon buildings and the retrofit economy also needs to be supported, through new mechanisms like the Infrastructure Bank. In our ongoing conversations with the federal and provincial governments, we have been working to identify and implement mechanisms to accelerate the retrofit economy, and will continue to advocate for initiatives that push the boundaries.
In addition to investments being made in social housing and public buildings, CaGBC hopes to see the Infrastructure Bank extend retrofit funding in the form of green financing to large commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings is not only critical to reaching the maximum emissions reductions possible from the building sector, but presents a massive economic opportunity.
Unlike investments in more traditional infrastructure, building retrofits have the potential for a solid return on investment due to the significant energy savings they represent. Large-scale upgrades to existing buildings will also create jobs and drive the creation of new technologies, and could contribute $32.5 billion in total gross domestic product (GDP) impacts by 2030 and reduce 19.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The CaGBC is committed to continuing to work closely with government and industry in advocating for growth and investment toward a low-carbon building sector. To learn more about the state of green building in Canada, its ability to spur economic growth, and the CaGBC’s ongoing advocacy work with the federal government, visit the CaGBC’s Advocacy Web page.