CaGBC report recommends national retrofit strategy

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) reveals that retrofitting a specific number of large buildings with the greatest potential to reduce carbon could help achieve a 30 per cent (and potentially 51 per cent) building emissions reduction by 2030.

A Roadmap for Retrofits in Canada recommends retrofitting buildings such as office buildings, shopping malls and universities constructed between 1969 and 1979. Currently, Alberta and Ontario have the greatest potential for reducing emissions because they emit the most carbon, mainly due to the carbon intensity of Alberta’s electricity grid and the number of large buildings in Ontario.

The WSP-developed report suggests provincially-specific retrofit pathways that include a combination of recommissioning, deep retrofits, renewable energy, and fuel switching actions.

“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, said CaGBC President and Thomas Mueller. 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.”

Other key findings include:

  • All provinces will need to prioritize recommissioning for large buildings (between 25,000 and 200,000 square feet) and deep retrofits for older buildings (more than 35 years old) in order to meet the target. These two actions will provide 62 per cent of the reduction activity needed.
  • Fuel switching, currently attractive in provinces with clean electricity grids, must also be completed in 20 per cent of buildings more than 35 years old. In these regions, significant effort should also increase the adoption of highly efficient heat pump technology, the report states. This will lower 25 per cent of the needed reduction activity.
  • 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 represents 13 per cent of the reduction activity needed
  • The report suggests Canada include a GHG metric in its future retrofit building code; develop regional retrofit roadmaps, prioritize investments in scalable retrofit projects and support mandatory energy benchmarking.

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