Canadian Consulting Engineer

CaGBC updates zero-carbon building standard

March 10, 2020   By CCE

ZCB standard

Image credit: CaGBC.

Today, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) launched Version 2 of its Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard. The update is intended to accelerate the adoption of ZCB practices, help Canada meet its climate-change targets and spur both innovation and job growth.

To help more buildings ‘get to zero’ faster, Version 2 draws on lessons learned from more than 20 real-world ZCBs, provides more design strategy options for both new and existing buildings and recognizes high-quality carbon offsets when necessary.

Since Version 1 was launched in 2017, CaGBC says, projects and research have proven ZCBs are technically and financially viable across a wide spectrum of types, including schools, offices, multi-unit residential, commercial and industrial. The new updates offer additional flexibility to help make the standard more mainstream.

By way of example, Version 2 includes two pathways: ZCB-Design, which guides the design of new buildings and the retrofitting of existing structures; and ZCB-Performance, which provides a framework for annually verifying buildings have achieved zero-carbon performance.

The updates also focus on:

  • Embodied carbon–Projects must reduce and offset carbon emissions for the building’s life cycle, including those associated with the manufacture and use of construction materials.
  • Refrigerants–Best practices are encouraged to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants.
  • Energy efficiency–The efficient use of clean energy is promoted with more stringent requirements, e.g. for airtightness.
  • Innovation–Projects are required to demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

“The changes we’ve made give a clear path to show carbon leadership with positive action that future-proofs buildings,” says Thomas Mueller, CaGBC’s president and CEO.


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