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CaGBC Report makes the case for Zero Carbon Building

"The Canadian building industry and governments now have proof to make the changes needed to create Canada's low carbon building stock and avoid creating buildings that will become a liability in a carbon constrained economy."


zeroThe Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has issued a new report showing that Zero Carbon Buildings offer meaningful greenhouse gas reductions and positive financial returns.

In “Making The Case For Building To Zero Carbon,” the CaGBC report confirms that Zero Carbon Buildings are financially viable today, with a positive financial return over a 25-year life-cycle, inclusive of carbon pollution pricing, and requiring only a modest capital cost premium.

The CaGBC report found that, by 2030, over four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year can be avoided cost-effectively if the seven building types studied (low-rise office, mid-rise office, low-rise multi-unit residential, mid-rise multi-unit residential, primary schools, big box retail and warehouses in the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax) are built to be Zero Carbon Buildings. This represents over 22% of the 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions that the Pan-Canadian Framework recognizes as potential savings from the building sector.

These emission reductions can be accomplished with a total incremental capital cost of $3.3 billion per year, which would fund the construction of approximately 47,500 new residential units and 4,800 new commercial/institutional Zero Carbon Buildings annually.

“The cost of not adopting Zero Carbon Buildings grows with each passing day. This study shows us definitively that Zero Carbon Buildings can be achieved with existing market-ready technologies and approaches for most building types, and that operating cost savings will cover the needed investments,” says Thomas Mueller, president and CEO at CaGBC.

“The Canadian building industry and governments now have proof to make the changes needed to create Canada’s low carbon building stock and avoid creating buildings that will become a liability in a carbon constrained economy.”

Nationally, the seven types of buildings yielded the following financial outcomes: mid-rise and low-rise offices offer the highest life-cycle returns at close to 3%; warehouses and big box retail facilities can yield returns above 1%; and multi-unit residential buildings and primary schools are cost neutral or nearly cost neutral.

“This study shows that Zero Carbon Buildings provide tangible benefits to owner-operators, design teams and policy decisionmakers,” says Antoni Paleshi, Senior Energy Performance Specialist (Sustainability & Energy), WSP in Canada, who co-authored the study. “There is an opportunity for building owner-operators, design teams and governments to demonstrate leadership in normalizing the processes and technologies that will make Zero Carbon Buildings the go to industry standard for building excellence.”

The development and publication of the study was made possible through financial contributions from Natural Resources Canada, The National Research Council, Public Services and Procurement Canada, The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, REALPAC, the Government of Nova Scotia and the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

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