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New ECCC Government Report Supports Deep Retrofits, Disclosure and Standardization


Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Advisory Council on Climate Action (ACCA) released a report on May 28 that examines ways in which Canada can accelerate the transition to sustainable, low-carbon buildings and transportation. The report states that the built environment sector accounts for 12 percent Canada’s GHG emissions. While emissions are projected to decline by 2030, the pace is not aligned with Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Reviewing the report, it is heartening to see how much of the ACCA’s recommendations validate the Canadian Green Building Council’s own focus and direction. In February 2019, CaGBC organized an industry roundtable on retrofit financing for the Expert Panel for Sustainable Finance in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Vancity to discuss the role the federal government for accelerating retrofits in Canada. CaGBC supported the expert panel’s efforts in providing a summary report of the industry roundtable. This report formulated recommendations to the federal government on financing and incentivizing the retrofit economy. The Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance intends to make its final recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, later in 2019. The advice of the Advisory Council on Climate Action on how to strengthen market demand for building retrofits, complements the work of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance. ACCA’s report benefitted from the insights on building retrofits and sustainable infrastructure gained through the Expert Panel’s discussions and engagement over the previous year.

We are particularly thrilled to note that the Advisory Council shares our recommendation that the Government of Canada should ensure that standardized tools and approaches to measure the expected and actual performance of retrofit projects are broadly available. This could be achieved by leveraging the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) that could be operationalized with expertise to disseminate best practices, and to build and aggregate pipelines of local retrofit projects. The Advisory Council particularly recommends that the federal government adopts the Investor Confidence Project (ICP), or a similar protocol, for retrofit activities within its own operations, and work with other stakeholders to more actively encourage a consistent approach to standardization. The ICP is a global standard for underwriting, developing and measuring energy efficiency retrofit projects. It assembles existing standards and practices into a consistent process to support the assessment of risk and expected outcomes. It has been CaGBC’s recommendation that the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) could work with financial institutions to establish an accepted underwriting standard and certification for developing and measuring energy efficiency and carbon reduction in retrofits. The ICP could provide both the CIB and private financiers with the assurance that an independent third party (akin to a credit rating agency) has conducted due diligence on proposed retrofit projects. CIB participation can create the conditions to unlock available private capital for retrofit projects in Canada and seed an accelerated maturation of the retrofit economy.

The CaGBC has been drawing attention for the need for deep retrofits to meet Canada’s carbon reduction targets, with tools such as the Zero Carbon Building Standard, helping create a pathway for both new and existing buildings to reach zero carbon. Our recent initiative, The Disclosure Challenge, invites building owners to share their portfolio’s energy performance for better visibility into how investments in green building are paying off. The ACCA report recommends that the Government of Canada should lead by example and publicly disclose energy use ratings for all federal buildings. It also should accelerate the pace of deep retrofits in its assets and communicate the results of these projects, including through an open database with project-level information on performance.

The report also points to interesting new instruments for retrofit financing, such as implementing a performance-based incentive for retrofit activities in the form of an accelerated capital cost allowance, similar to that of the United States.

While the ACCA report is not a comprehensive roadmap for policy, it does identify promising opportunities for GHG reductions in the built environment.

Other recommendations include:

  • The Government of Canada should ensure that tools to support standardized building labelling are available for adoption by provinces and territories, and maintain these tools on an ongoing basis.

  • The Government of Canada should lead by example and publicly disclose energy use ratings for all federal buildings.

  • The Government of Canada should accelerate the pace of deep retrofits in its assets and communicate the results of these projects, including through an open database with project-level information on performance.

  • The Government of Canada should ensure that standardized tools and approaches to measure the expected and actual performance of retrofit projects are broadly available. The Canada Infrastructure Bank should be operationalized with expertise to disseminate these best practices, and to build and aggregate pipelines of local retrofit projects.

  • The Government of Canada should consider implementing a performance-based incentive for retrofit activities in the form of an accelerated capital cost allowance, similar to that of the United States.

  • Based on an assessments of needs, the Government of Canada should increase investment in capacity-building activities, including to promote energy literacy and technology demonstration.

You can read more about the ACCA report here.

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Also in this issue:
Green Building Programs
LEED Spotlight: Prairie Architects Inc. Winnipeg Office Achieves Commercial Interiors LEED v4 Platinum Certification
Ask the Expert: Learn from Green Building Pioneer, Roland Charneux
New ECCC Government Report Supports Deep Retrofits, Disclosure and Standardization
LEED Certified Projects - April 2019
Conference and Events
CaGBC Honours Canada's Green Building Leaders at BLC 2019
Member News and Updates
WorldGBC's Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment Surpasses 50 Signatories
New Global Initiative for City-Based Climate Efficiency Trading
National Media Partners' News: ConstructConnect
New Members - April 2019
Education
There's Still Time to Apply to the Greenest School in Canada Contest
Join Us for the Making the Case for Building To Zero Carbon Webinar
Featured On-Demand Course: Engaging Tenants in Sustainability
LEED Strategic Practices (LSP) Program Course 4: Energy and Atmosphere Credits
Meet Our First-Class LEED Strategic Practices Program Instructors
CaGBC On-Demand Summer Sale: Up to 25% Off Courses Until July 31
Course Calendar - June 2019
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