A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) provides an action plan to close the low-carbon building skills gap in the Ontario construction industry. With structures accounting for 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, addressing the current gap in low-carbon building skills is important if Canada is to meet its 2030-target of reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels. In Ontario, the most country’s populous province, the impact of the skills gap is estimated at $24.3 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in foregone company revenues, with an additional $3.7 billion lost in foregone taxation.
Entitled “Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future,” the report puts forward recommendations for new types of training, incentives, and construction processes to help the trades workforce support the construction and mass retrofit of buildings to lower GHG emissions. Specifically, tradespeople need to be trained on:
- building efficient building envelopes, including framing, insulation, windows, and glazing;
- installing advanced mechanical systems including HVAC; and
- maintaining energy-efficient furnaces, boilers, water heaters, solar panels, and geoexchange systems.
CaGBC’s report also demonstrates technical skills alone will not satisfy the requirements of low-carbon buildings. The report shows the threshold for mistakes in high-performing buildings is narrow and demands a higher level of sophistication, integration, and precision for the entire project team.
The report explores different delivery modes for training, ranging from full-time, in-class courses to short, online programs and on-the-job training, as well as calling for a new certificate for low-carbon skills to help the industry identify and secure skilled trades for future projects.
The report was compiled by CaGBC with Mohawk College, design firm McCallumSather, the Cora Group, the City of Toronto, and the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA). The project was funded, in part, by the Ontario government. While the report examines the Ontario construction industry, its recommendations can be applied throughout Canada.