Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada Green Building Council supports green recovery initiatives in 2021 budget

The not-for-profit organization is in favour of the Liberal government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, putting it on a trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2050.

April 21, 2021  CCE

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has come out in strong support of the federal government’s plan to invest in a green recovery and tie those investments to climate targets, as proposed in the 2021 federal budget.

“[The] budget indicates that the government is on that path,” the Ottawa-based not-for-profit national organization said in a news release. “It sets out the government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, putting it on a trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2050.”

CaGBC said it had three key priorities coming into the 2021 budget: workforce development, building retrofits, and leadership on zero carbon building. “The new budget, along with the previously announced programs, demonstrate positive momentum in these critical areas,” the group said.

“The budget prioritizes workforce training programs around high-growth sectors and employer demand,” CaGBC said. “Green building should benefit from this, as government programs like the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s Commercial Building Retrofits Initiative and Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Communities increase demand for green building and low-carbon skills.”

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CaGBC officials also drew attention to programs announced in the budget help transition COVID-19 impacted workers, and to attract youth, women, Indigenous and racialized workers into these high growth sectors, particularly:

  • Helping Workers Transition to New Jobs: $250 million over three years to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to scale-up proven industry-led, third-party delivered approaches to upskill and redeploy workers in growing industries. This initiative will help approximately 15,500 Canadians connect with new work opportunities.
  • Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program: $960 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada to help connect up to 90,000 Canadians with the training they need to access good jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers. 40 per cent of supported workers are from underrepresented groups, including women, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous people.
  • Apprenticeship Service: $470 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada to help 55,000 first year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers. To boost diversity in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire underrepresented individuals.
  • Community Workforce Development Program: $55 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada to support communities to identify and connect high-growth employers with training providers to develop and deliver training and work placements to upskill and reskill jobseekers. Streams would focus on either regions or priority areas like decarbonization or a just transition for workers into transforming sectors like energy. This initiative will benefit approximately 25,000 workers, 250 businesses, and 25 communities.

For Canada to meet it carbon emissions targets, CaGBC said, the building sector will need a continuous pipeline of projects – especially building retrofits – with stringent carbon emissions targets. “The fastest way to meet the building sector’s carbon reduction targets is to focus on retrofitting mid-size and large commercial and institutional buildings,” the group said. “In keeping with [our] recommendations, over the last several months the federal government has rolled out programs designed to trigger the growth of shovel-ready low-carbon projects from coast to coast to coast.”

“Even before the budget, $3.66 billion in funding was announced for building retrofits between the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and programs with Infrastructure Canada and the Green Municipal Fund,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of CaGBC.  “With a range of 10 per cent to 30 per cent carbon emissions reduction, the projects funded and financed by these initiatives will help kick start the green recovery.”

The retrofit program outlined in the 2021 budget go beyond commercial buildings to also focus on homes. The Deep Home Retrofits program will see $779 million deployed over five years ($414 million in subsequent years with a maximum of $4.4 billion) to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help homeowners complete deep home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000. It includes a dedicated stream of funding to support low-income homeowners and rental properties serving low-income renters including cooperatives and not-for-profit owned housing.

Prior to the budget, the government announced that the Treasury Board Secretariat would prioritize zero carbon for all federally-funded buildings and building projects as part of the updated Greening Government Strategy. “This shift aligns with CaGBC recommendations that asked the federal government to take a leadership position to achieve zero-carbon performance,” the group said. “The new budget solidifies this focus by continuing to use and expand federal procurement to support the Greening Government Strategy so that public dollars prioritize the use of lower carbon materials, fuels, and processes.”

The budget also drives low-carbon building construction in the private sector by advancing climate-based investment decisions and by strengthening Canada’s supply chain of low-carbon materials, products, and services. They will accomplish this through programs including:

  • Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures: The government will engage with provinces and territories, with the objective of making climate disclosures, consistent with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, part of regular disclosure practices for a broad spectrum of the Canadian economy.
  • Net Zero Accelerator: Building on the support for the Net Zero Accelerator announced in the strengthened Climate Plan, the government will invest $5 billion over seven years to provide support for projects that will help reduce domestic GHG emissions across the Canadian economy, transforming key sectors such as steel, aluminum, and cement.
  • Zero-emission Technology Manufacturing: Reduce by half the general corporate and small business income tax rates for businesses that manufacture zero emission technologies such as energy storage equipment.

“We are pleased to see the federal government continue its green building leadership by supporting the construction and retrofit of federal buildings to zero carbon standards, and by de-risking investment for other levels of government and the commercial sector,” said Mueller. “This commitment will spur innovation, resulting in the development of a robust supply chain of low-carbon products, technologies and services, which will, in turn, create more jobs for Canadians.”


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