President & CEO, CAGBC
The building sector accounts for nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Retrofits can reduce carbon emissions substantially while creating economic benefits.
Recognizing the role of Canada’s building sector in meeting its net-zero carbon reduction targets, the federal government has committed over $3.6 billion to finance energy efficiency upgrades and low-carbon retrofits for large buildings.
The Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC) is the only national organization dedicated to green building in Canada and created the Zero Carbon Building standards. Mediaplanet recently spoke with Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of CAGBC, to learn more about the importance of the building sector in helping Canada reach its net-zero targets, increase climate change resiliency, and create jobs.
How critical is the building sector for Canada’s climate aspirations?
Buildings and homes are responsible for about 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), both in Canada and globally. That includes the carbon being generated to operate buildings, such as heating, cooling, and lighting, and the embodied carbon in the materials used to construct the buildings. Thanks to advances in green building technologies, the building sector can play a role in both lowering carbon emissions and increasing building resiliency, helping Canada meet its climate aspirations.
Buildings and homes are responsible for about 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), both in Canada and globally.
Why are retrofits such an important part of this?
In Canada, we have hundreds of thousands of existing commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings, and we recognize that carbon reduction at scale cannot happen without retrofitting these buildings to be more energy efficient and emit less carbon. We estimate that retrofits can reduce up to 21.2 million tonnes of building-sector emissions by 2030, which is a critical means to help Canada reach its net-zero targets.
How do retrofits create jobs and drive supply chain innovation?
When we look at the number of existing commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings that will need to be retrofitted, there are significant opportunities for job creation and skills development. The traditional building trades are often perceived as undesirable because you work outside, and it can be dangerous. Building retrofits are a great way to reposition the industry as something innovative and that requires high-level skills on both the trade and design sides. Retrofits also drive supply chain innovation because they use low-carbon products, materials, and equipment.
How does CAGBC support the retrofit economy?
When we created this non-profit 20 years ago, we were the only organization that identified green building as a holistic approach to reducing or eliminating the environmental impact of the building sector. We did this primarily through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. We were also the first globally to develop Zero Carbon Building standards and have over 50 ZCB-certified buildings. We continue to provide the building sector with innovative standards and verification services, as well as education, training, market research, and government advocacy efforts that encourage programs, investments, and policies to accelerate zero-carbon buildings and retrofits.
How does the Decarbonizing Canada’s Large Buildings report provide an effective roadmap to the retrofit economy?
With support from the federal government and others, we took it upon ourselves to produce this report to help equip Canadian building owners and policymakers with the tools and information they need to scale up and accelerate deep carbon retrofits in different regions across the country. In the report, we provide details on the actions and technologies needed and the costs. We can build on this information as we advance building retrofits across Canada.