PATHWAYS TO NET ZERO
Structures including residences, places of business, schools, hospitals and other public
92Mt CO2e (2018); 13% of of total national emissions
47 Mt CO2e homes; 45Mt CO2e commercial and institutional buildings
Options for decarbonization
Replace fossil end uses (principally gas for heating); increase energy efficiency of all buildings (new and old); reduce embodied emissions in building requirements.
Stage of transition
Design, construction and retrofitting to net-zero buildings: emergence stage. Individual technologies such as enhanced heat pumps: entering diffusion.
Cheap price of natural gas; up-front capital costs for net zero construction or renovation; shortage of trained workforce; insufficient incentives and coordinated standards to drive innovation; conservative industry structure and practices.
Other systemic issues
Affordability of housing; lack of public housing; electricity options for remote communities; construction related waste; developer dominated urban planning, lack of real estate industry interest in energy performance and energy performance disclosure.
Opportunities and concerns
Consumers: reductions of fuel costs and utility bills over the long run; opportunity to improve indoor air quality and general comfort.
Economic development: employment opportunity in low-carbon retrofit and construction; business opportunities in net zero equipment (e.g., heat pumps); green real estate market; export opportunities for low-carbon building materials; possible build-out of hydrogen economy.
Priorities for action
Adoption of progressively more stringent codes for new builds, and regulatory standards to drive improvement in existing buildings; use public procurement to support sector transformation; financial vehicles to mobilize private capital and organize pilots to scale up deep retrofits; mandatory building/energy emissions labelling; support R&D for net zero building technologies adapted to Canada’s climate (eg: cold climate heat pumps); train Canada’s labor force for low carbon building design, construction, retrofit and maintenance.
Affordable net-zero housing; efficiencies through district heating
Indicators of progress
Share of electricity in building’s energy consumption; annual retrofit rate; transparency around embodied carbon in building materials.