The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is zeroing in on carbon reduction with updates to its Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard, launched on March 10, 2020. Version 2 is designed to accelerate the adoption of zero carbon building practices and to help Canada meet its climate targets.

CaGBC, a leading national organization dedicated to advancing green building and sustainable community development practices, works closely with its national and chapter members in an effort to make buildings across the country greener.

“There is no time to waste or reason to wait. Zero carbon buildings represent the best opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions today,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and president of CaGBC “The changes we’ve made give the industry and government a clear path to show carbon leadership with positive climate action that future-proofs buildings, encourages innovation, and drives job growth.”

Canada’s buildings are a top contributor to carbon emissions, and updates to the ZCB Standard reflect the urgent need for change. Currently building operations represent 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but that number is closer to 30 per cent when carbon from construction and materials are factored in.

This new standard provides the industry with a zero-carbon approach that works for any type of new or existing building. Version 2 draws on lessons learned from more than 20 ZCB projects that demonstrate that the industry is ready to raise the bar on expanded requirements for embodied carbon and energy efficiency. At the same time, Version 2 aims to get more buildings to zero, faster, by providing more options for different design strategies and by recognizing high-quality carbon offsets when necessary.

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These updates are designed to balance the rigour needed to meaningfully eliminate carbon, while also being flexible enough for zero carbon buildings to reach the mainstream.

Since the ZCB Standard launched in 2017, CaGBC has proven that zero carbon buildings are technically and financially viable across a wide spectrum of building types including schools, offices, multi-residential, commercial and industrial buildings. The updates provide the guidance for more owners and developers to build to zero now and as part of their plans for the future.

The updates focus on these key components:

  • Embodied carbon: Projects must now 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 to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants that, when released, can have significant short-term impacts on climate.
  • Energy efficiency: Promotion of the efficient use of clean energy with more stringent energy efficiency and “airtightness” requirements.
  • Innovation: The requirement of projects to demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

To read the complete standard, click here.

To see the full list of pilot and certified pilots, click here.

Featured image from the CaGBC.


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