Our Work

Building Decarbonization

Buildings accounted for 13% of Canada’s total GHG emissions in 2018. Approximately half of this came from the residential sector, and half from the commercial and institutional sector. Energy is used mainly for space and water heating, with some cooling requirements.
Challenges to decarbonizing the building sector include:

  • The reluctance of governments to mandate net zero design and construction of new buildings and adapt millions of existing structures to ensure net zero cooling and heating
  • The relatively cheap cost of natural gas in Canada which discourages investment in energy efficiency (building insulation, more efficient heating units), and fuel switching to electricity
  • The difficulty of financing the upfront costs for energy retrofits
  • Structural characteristics of the sector including a highly fragmented construction industry with a small number of large companies and thousands of small firms and independent contractors, and conservative industry norms where builders tend to apply methods that have worked in the past and are hesitant to adopt innovative approaches
  • A lack of knowledge and understanding of how to improve buildings among small commercial building owners.

The Transition Accelerator will work to address these challenges through the co-construction of critical transition pathways that can transform the sector, including replacing fossil fuel use in buildings with net zero energy and improving building energy efficiency.