By John Boling
On January 27, 2023, Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change of Canada, announced that the Net-Zero Advisory Board had submitted its first annual report, “Compete and Succeed in a Net-Zero Future.” The report contains 25 recommendations to speed Canada’s transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. Composed of nine experts from across Canada, the board was authorized by the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.
Of specific interest to IIBEC members is Recommendation #10, which includes adoption of the 40 recommendations in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The 2030 report outlines the current situation of the built environment, challenges, and action the government has already undertaken, including details on actions that will be taken to reduce carbon in the building sector.
While not directly stated, the report indicates that consultations with stakeholders will continue but that actionable items identified will be implemented accordingly. IIBEC will continue to follow the Net-Zero Advisory Board along with other group to keep members up to date.
According to the report, the government will invest $150 million to develop the Canada Green Buildings Strategy—a plan for national net zero by 2050 for buildings.
The green buildings strategy will:
- Develop a Low Carbon Building Materials Innovation Hub to drive further research, building code reform, and demonstration activities, all promoting the use of lower carbon construction materials (e.g., wood, steel, cement, etc.) in the built environment
- Develop regulatory standards, and an incentive framework to support the transition of fossil fuels for heating systems
- Develop an approach to require EnerGuide labeling of homes at the time of sale, and design a complementary Climate Adaptation Home Rating Program
- Launch a new Net Zero Building Code Acceleration Fund to accelerate adoption and implementation of the highest performance tiers of the national model energy codes, incentivizing stakeholder participation while addressing persistent challenges in Canada’s codes system and paving the way to a code for alterations for existing buildings
- Improve federal capacity and technical support to provinces, territories, and key stakeholders for the development and adoption of net zero emission codes, and alteration to existing buildings codes
- Develop an approach to increase the climate resilience of the built environment
The Net-Zero Advisory Body recommended accelerating the adoption of national model building codes and supporting research and development for innovative net-zero technologies, such as developing readily available and affordable net-zero building materials. The buildings strategy proposed in this plan aligns with this advice.
Going further, the government of Canada commits to explore these additional opportunities:
- Mobilize private sector financing to support deep retrofits in existing residential, commercial, and institutional buildings.
- Mobilize indigenous sector financing to support deep retrofits and clean energy initiatives.
- Link infrastructure funding (e.g., public transit) to housing outcomes.
- Review of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s market tools to promote climate compatibility in new construction and within the existing housing stock.
- Increase energy efficiency standards of National Housing Strategy programs.
- Lead by example by decarbonizing the federal government’s highest emitting buildings.