Eleven organizations, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Passive House Canada, and the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), are calling on the federal government to implement a national plan for improving the energy efficiency of the country’s buildings.
The organization offered 14 recommendations for key policies and programs for a national plan that would help the government meet climate-change objectives and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It would set the stage for deep energy retrofits of existing buildings—energy reductions of 25 to 50 per cent of one-third of Canada’s buildings by 2030—and all new construction to be nearly zero energy by 2030.
A letter written on the behalf of the 11 organizations addressed to Jim Carr (minister of natural resources) and Catherine McKenna (minister of environment and climate change) states Canada has an important opportunity to transform the built environment and transition to a low-carbon future while enhancing the performance and livability of Canadian homes and businesses.
The signatories, who represent energy and building professionals, associations, and non-government organizations and businesses, also include:
- Pembina Institute;
- Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l’énergie (AQME);
- Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF);
- MaRS Advanced Energy Centre;
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Toronto;
- Council for Clean Capitalism; and
- Environmental Defense, Équiterre.
“As the leading voice for architecture in Canada, we are proud to be working with the Pembina Institute and other leading built-realm organizations to enable and impel bolder responses to pressing eco-social challenges,” said Jennifer Cutbill, RAIC regional director for British Columbia/Yukon and chair of the RAIC’s Committee on Responsible Environments. “All parties involved in the creation of the built realm—from policy and planning through to design, construction, and inhabitation—have an obligation to shift towards more holistically sustainable patterns.”
She added architects are often leaders of the multi-stakeholder teams responsible for delivering the pieces of their built realm, and therefore have a responsibility to take a leadership role in advocating and innovating for a shift to more holistically sustainable patterns.
The organizations note the total energy consumption of buildings account for nearly 25 per cent of Canada’s GHG emissions.
“In order for Canada to achieve its 2030 climate target under the Paris Agreement and its longer-term de-carbonization goals, we must significantly reduce emissions of existing buildings and ensure that new buildings are designed for ultra-low emissions,” the organizations stated in the letter. “We believe the buildings sector offers to policy-makers some of the lowest-cost and achievable greenhouse gas reductions.”
The organizations say energy efficiency programs will create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and improve the quality of the spaces where Canadians live and work. The recommendations include:
- updating national model building codes to achieve nearly zero energy new construction by 2030 (and working with provinces to facilitate adoption of building codes);
- developing or adapting national energy codes for major renovations of existing buildings;
- reforming tax policy to stimulate investment in efficiency; and
- financially supporting other levels of government to incentivize and remove barriers to deep retrofits.
The groups say the federal government should lead by example, noting it owns and occupies over 27 million m2 (290.6 million sf) of floor space across Canada. At the same time, they applauded the commitment the government has shown on climate initiatives.
“Beyond advocating for reductions and associated incentives, we are promoting for a shift in mindset,” said Cutbill. “We need to move beyond a framework of doing less harm, and collectively shift to one of creating net positive impact. By and large, we do not lack for solutions to the pressing challenges of climate change; rather we need collective will, and more effective integration.”
To see the full letter, click here.