The building sector presents a unique opportunity to help Canada reach net-zero by 2050. Canada has over 480,000 existing commercial and institutional buildings, including offices, retail and warehouses. In the current workforce, over 39,000 companies employ more than 285,000 Canadians to conduct energy efficiency-related work in the construction industry, and nearly 5,500 companies offer building services such as energy management, energy auditing, recommissioning, engineering and architecture.
Two presentations at the BCxA Annual Conference in Toronto delved into the issues of (1) workforce availability and (2) meeting Canada’s priority mandate for improving existing building energy efficiency. The Opening Keynote by Geni Peters, PhD, Labour Market Information Manager at ECO Canada, addressed the building sector’s workforce and gaps that need to be filled to meet oncoming challenges. Ian Meredith of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) presented the context, EBCx programs, actions and opportunities related to “Developing an Existing Building Commissioning Framework for Canada.”
The drivers for Canada’s efficiency and climate-focused actions come from within its building markets and institutions as well as from global climate plan collaboration.
Significant strides have been taken for developing increasingly stringent model building codes, so that new buildings will use up to 60% less energy than those built under today’s codes, and creating a model “retrofit” code, including EBCx, to drive efficiency improvements in the existing building stock. The “2021 Supplemental Mandate Letter” prioritizes building retrofits.
Reaching for Net Zero
NRCan’s Innovation and Electricity Regulation Initiative in support of Net Zero by 2050 will leverage federal expertise and experience from electricity grid modernization and research, development, and deployment programs. In addition, NRCan will consult with stakeholders to develop options to accelerate grid modernization within the regulatory construct in support of a high-electrification future. It would also enable the federal government to collaborate with provincial and territorial regulators to generate the data to inform benefit/cost models to evaluate business cases for wider deployment of piloted solutions.
Further activities include establishing stringent targets for Government of Canada buildings as part of the updated greening government strategy and providing billions in funding to:
- Support 21 energy retrofit programs for homes and buildings.
- The Green Municipal Fund to support increased energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and multi-unit buildings.
- Finance 12 RD&D projects including net-zero energy ready new construction, innovative deep energy retrofits, and national tools to accelerate highly energy-efficient construction.
- Support large-scale building retrofits through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Achieving Market Transformation: Who and How
Canada’s Market Transformation Roadmap for energy efficiency and carbon reduction in the building sector identifies the leading and supporting roles of various stakeholders in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.
New materials, technology, code and standards measures underway for the buildings sector include:
- Conducting Canada’s first-ever national infrastructure assessment, starting in 2021, to help identify needs and priorities in the built environment, and undertake long-term planning towards a net-zero emissions future.
- Working to advance technology and uptake of the next generation of low emission, high-efficiency HVAC equipment and building envelope (specifically, windows), building on the Market Transformation Roadmap.