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CaGBC report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy

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by DCN News Services

OTTAWA — A new report released by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) provides a roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from large buildings across the country.
CaGBC report recommends nationwide retrofit strategy

The report provides recommendations that will contribute to achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 30 per cent by 2030, with the potential to reach 51 per cent or 21.2 million tonnes, states a release issued by the CaGBC. The roadmap provides government and industry with a targeted plan to yield the greatest carbon savings from buildings and grow Canada's clean economy.

Developed by WSP, the report advances recommendations made in CaGBC's 2016 Building Solutions to Climate Change research by analyzing how the type, size and age of large buildings, along with energy sources and the carbon intensity of regional electrical grids in Canada, can affect energy efficiency and carbon emissions, adds the release. The report identifies the buildings with the largest carbon reduction potential and recommends provincially-specific retrofit pathways.

Among its key findings of the roadmap include:

achieving a 30 per cent (and potentially 51 per cent) building emissions reduction by 2030 can be attained by focusing on a targeted number of buildings that have the greatest potential to reduce carbon;

buildings including office buildings, shopping malls, universities and arenas constructed between 1960 and 1979 across all provinces represent the age class with the largest opportunity for total carbon emissions reductions;

Alberta and Ontario currently emit the most carbon and therefore have the greatest potential for reducing emissions. This is due to the carbon intensity of Alberta's electricity grid and the number of large buildings in Ontario;

all provinces will need to prioritize recommissioning for large buildings (between 25,000 and 200,000 square feet) and deep retrofits for older buildings (over 35 years old) in order to meet the target;

fuel switching must be completed in 20 per cent of buildings over 35 years old across Canada. Currently, fuel switching is particularly attractive in provinces with clean electricity grids such as British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. In these regions, significant effort should be put into increasing the adoption of highly efficient heat pump technology; and

in provinces with carbon intense electricity grids, specifically Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 30 per cent of buildings will need to use renewable energy in order to meet the target.

"This report makes it very clear that targeted strategic investments in existing buildings represent a massive opportunity for significant carbon reductions across the country," said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of CaGBC, in a statement. "We are showing how each region can contribute to meeting Canada's climate change goals through a targeted approach to building retrofit and clean energy. Governments at all levels are encouraged to develop progressive policies and programs to guide investment and support for establishing a robust retrofit economy in Canada."

The report also provides policy recommendations for the federal government including a GHG metric in Canada's future retrofit building code, developing regional retrofit roadmaps, prioritizing investments in scalable retrofit projects and supporting mandatory energy benchmarking, adds the release.

A Roadmap for Retrofits in Canada will be followed by a third CaGBC report, to be published in spring 2018, which will provide policy options that would overcome barriers that hinder the implementation of retrofit projects and identify the financing mechanisms necessary to stimulate the retrofit economy.

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