Green building sector can add $150B to GDP by 2030: CaGBC report

A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) shows the potential of a green recovery that prioritizes green building. Image courtesy CaGBC
A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) shows the potential of a green recovery that prioritizes green building.
Image courtesy CaGBC

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) released a new report, Canada’s Green Building Engine: Market Impact and Opportunities in a Critical Decade, which shows the potential of a green recovery that prioritizes green building.

Based on a ‘Climate Forward’ modelling, the report indicates Canada’s green building sector can contribute 1.5 million jobs and $150 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 while cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 53 megatonnes compared with 2018 levels.

Canada’s Green Building Engine expands on the 2016 Green Building Market Impact Report to assess the influence of Canada’s green building industry now and over the next 10 years. Findings were based on historical data and forward-looking trends, and then distilled to the provincial and territorial level.

The report found in 2018, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the green building industry added 164,260 jobs, which is 55 per cent greater than in 2014. Over the same period, Canada’s oil and gas extraction, mining, and forestry industries stagnated in terms of job growth, contracting by 2.8 per cent or 7580 positions.

Driving the accelerated growth of the green building sector is a number of trends, including a greater focus on healthier and more resilient buildings. The report also highlights the need for a sustainable approach to the extraction, manufacturing, use, and disposal of building materials, as well as the necessity of large-scale retrofit to accelerate reductions in GHG emissions.

While jobs in the green building industry go beyond construction, trades, and design, construction remains the primary focus. The report indicates that new construction accounts for 80 per cent of all green building, but the increasingly urgent climate challenge will drive the need to retrofit existing buildings. However, to date, green retrofits yield only one in five jobs in green building construction and trades.

“To reach our climate targets, Canada must not only address new buildings but also the large number of inefficient buildings and homes,” said Thomas Mueller, CaGBC president. “Right now, between 70 and 80 per cent of these buildings will still be in use by 2050, contributing to domestic GHG emissions. Retrofits must be a significant priority if we are to decarbonize by 2050. Strong public policy, private sector investment, performance standards, and certification programs like [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] LEED will support this urgently needed transformation.”

CaGBC worked with the Delphi Group to examine the green building industry today, and to understand how existing and announced climate policies and potential unannounced policies and investment priorities might shape the industry over the next 10 years. Three future scenarios were developed to provide a look at green building in 2030. These included a Pre-COVID Scenario, based on known economic and industry growth projections; Baseline Scenario, which adjusts for the impact of the pandemic and oil price collapse in Canada; and finally, the Climate Forward Scenario, which assumes an accelerated movement by provinces and the federal government within a green recovery stimulus package to achieve national GHG emissions targets.

Under the Climate Forward scenario, Canada would also reduce GHG emissions by 51 per cent in 2030 compared with 2018, a decline equivalent to 53 million tonnes of carbon. Without that concerted effort, those reductions would be more than halved.

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