The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has released a Zero Carbon Buildings Framework for the assessment of highly energy efficient buildings that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The framework is the first stage of a broader CaGBC Zero Carbon Buildings Initiative to champion the move to lower-carbon commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings in support of Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, CaGBC says in a news release.
“Our focus on carbon emissions as opposed to energy in this framework flows from the increasing urgency to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings,” says CaGBC president and CEO Thomas Mueller. “By embarking on this important initiative, the CaGBC is providing the market with a state-of -the-art guideline and, soon, the third-party verification and support required to make net zero carbon buildings a reality in the near future.”
Working with Integral Group’s Research and Planning group in Vancouver, the CaGBC consulted with approximately 50 individuals representing 40 organizations in the building sector and undertook a comprehensive review of nine international net zero building approaches. The resulting CaGBC framework facilitates broad participation across a range of building types and sizes, provides a clear definition for zero carbon buildings, and establishes five key components for the evaluation of building carbon footprints that are detailed below.
- A greenhouse gas intensity metric for assessing a building’s emissions, calculated using regional emissions factors.
- Energy intensity metrics to incentivize the design of highly efficient, reliable and resilient buildings.
- A peak energy demand metric to encourage the use of “peak shaving” measures.
- An embodied carbon metric to recognize the importance of building material lifecycle impacts.
- A requirement that renewable energy be generated on-site or procured directly in order to ensure the addition of clean power generation.
The next phases of the Zero Carbon Initiative include the identification of specific pathways to zero carbon, a zero carbon building pilot program, and the development of a verification program to be completed and launched by CaGBC by the end of the second quarter of 2017.
The first pilot project in the initiative is the recently announced Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation at Mohawk College, which aims to be a carbon-free building. This collaboration will provide insight from the application of the framework and help determine requirements for the verification of performance. More specifics about this project will be released in the near future.
“Further strengthening our leadership in environmental sustainability is a strategic priority for Mohawk College,” says Dr. Tony Cupido, chief building and facilities officer for Mohawk College. “Constructing one of the first net-zero energy institutional buildings in Ontario delivers on our commitment, and we are honoured to have the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation serve as the country’s first pilot project for Canada Green Building Council.”
REALPAC, which participated in the CaGBC’s Net Zero Working Group over the summer, sees this Framework and its resulting impact as a strong approach to the establishment of net zero standards in Canada.
“With global CO2 emissions now exceeding 400 ppm in the atmosphere, the need for buildings to show carbon reduction leadership has never been more apparent,” says Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC. “This report provides an excellent summary of global approaches to date, a thoughtful and proper approach to measuring zero carbon buildings, and new metrics that hopefully all governments in Canada will adopt as a way to achieve the aspirations set out in COP 21.”
The executive summary is available publicly, and the full report is available free to members To download the report and read updates about CaGBC’s Net Zero Initiative as it unfolds, visit www.cagbc.org/zerocarbon. The CaGBC is also inviting feedback on this framework, which can be provided by contacting Mark Hutchinson, vice-president of green building programs for CaGBC.