Making spaces work in Canada

With almost 10 million square metres of certified green building space, Canada is one of the world’s most mature green building markets.

Canada certified almost 35 million sqm of floor space in 2016 under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and the total number of LEED-certified projects now exceeds 2,900.

Canada is a lynchpin in the $1 trillion global green building market – and is a valuable contributor to jobs and economic growth throughout the nation.

The Canada Green Building Council’s Green Building in Canada report, published in 2016, found that sustainable building generates $23.6 billion in GDP and supports almost 298,000 direct jobs. What’s more, Canada’s portfolio of LEED buildings certified over the decade to 2015 will generate $63 billion in GDP over their lifetimes and create more than 700,000 jobs.

Promising to prioritise action on climate change during his election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to an ambitious 2030 target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels. The Canadian Government has also developed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, which outlines an approach to price carbon pollution and measures to increase technological innovations that support Canadian businesses in a global low-carbon economy.

Leadership at the city level is also taking shape. The City of Vancouver passed its Zero Emissions Building Plan in August 2016, which requires that all new construction emit zero operational carbon by 2030. The Passive House building standard is being used as a framework to fulfil the plan, and the number of Passive House Canadian buildings has accelerated rapidly.

Vancouver’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Andrea Reimer, drove the award-winning Greenest City Action Plan, making Vancouver a global leader in environmental action.

We are particularly focused on doubling the number of ‘green jobs’ in our city. Worldwide, green jobs are outpacing other kinds of economic development three to one, and we think this may be a key to our city’s future growth.

“The Greenest City Action Plan is a broad, long-term strategy to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020,” Reimer says.

“Specific goals include reducing our ecological footprint, vehicle traffic, greenhouse gas emissions and waste going to landfills. We are also encouraging bike, foot and public transit trips and local food production, improving air and water quality – and of course greener buildings.

“We are particularly focused on doubling the number of ‘green jobs’ in our city. Worldwide, green jobs are outpacing other kinds of economic development three to one, and we think this may be a key to our city’s future growth.”

On the other side of the country, the City of Toronto continues to work with building owners, managers and the development industry to ensure that buildings achieve high energy performance and low environmental impact. The Better Buildings Partnership has helped facilitate more than 2,500 retrofit projects, representing a gross floor area of 52 million sqm in floor space.

The economic impact of this has been extraordinary. More than 60,000 ‘person years’ of employment have been created, with cumulative cost savings of almost AUD $380 million. More than 3.8 million MWh of electricity has been saved, and 690,000 tonnes of emissions – the equivalent to powering 72,000 average homes for a year.

In 2016, NDY expanded into Canada by acquiring the established mechanical engineering firm, Sterling Cooper. With an office in Vancouver, this acquisition enhances NDY’s market-leading position as a global sustainability specialist.

The Better Buildings Partnership has helped facilitate more than 2,500 retrofit projects, representing a gross floor area of 52 million sq m in floor space.

CaGBC’s President & Chief Executive Officer Thomas Mueller says “NDY has a solid reputation for leadership in sustainability” and is “delighted to welcome NDY into the fold as a member” of what is now the world’s second largest green building council.

Mueller says Canada has “just 13 years to reach aggressive national and international commitments to climate change” but that the size and scope of LEED-rated projects around the country and the upcoming release of a net zero carbon standard for Canada mean the industry is ready to “hit the ground running and do our part in the countdown to 2030.”

(This article written by Tony Arnel, Global Director of Sustainability, Norman Disney & Young).

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