New CaGBC report identifies next steps for renovations
The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has released a new report aimed at taking the in-depth carbon retrofits of large buildings in Canada beyond the discussion stage, by providing the research and strategies needed to achieve broad market preparation.
The CaGBC recently hosted a webinar and panel discussion to release the report, with Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, on hand to say, âNow is the time for bolder climate action. “
The report is titled Decarbonizing Large Buildings in Canada: A Way Forward.
“This study aimed to help equip Canadian building owners and policymakers with the tools and information to scale up and accelerate deep carbon retrofits,” says the report, which was prepared by RDH Building Sciences in partnership with Dunsky Energy Consulting.
CaGBC Vice-President Mark Hutchinson welcomed presenters Patricia Lightburn, Senior Consultant at Dunsky, and Steve Kemp, Director of HDR, to present the report’s main findings.
âWe have shown that we can reduce fossil fuel consumption by at least 93% and often by 100%,â Hutchinson said.
âThere are technologies that are readily available today or, as Steve said, maybe ready just around the corner.
âWhen you think about it, it’s really amazing. This is a huge opportunity for our industry to take action on climate change, to truly show leadership, to stimulate new markets, new technologies and to make Canada a leader.
To meet its climate commitments for 2030 and 2050, the report says, Canada will need stronger regulations and policies, major investments, innovative financing structures and advances in building systems, as well as concentration on the optimization of the energy network and a constantly increasing carbon price.
Technical innovation must continue to intensify, building owners must tackle research and “do it now”, and governments must “step in and step up,” the report says.
The time for voluntary measures is over and governments need to strengthen policy tools, including mandatory building performance requirements and the establishment of good supply routes.
The research team studied 50 different building archetypes from the 1970s and 1990s to assess opportunities for in-depth carbon retrofits. Building types included offices, multi-unit dwellings and elementary schools, low and mid-rise, in five regions – Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.
âIt really makes more sense to consider in-depth carbon renovations when you’re already investing in the building,â Kemp said. âBuildings from the 1970s will likely consider renewing the building envelope shortly. The assumption was that a building from the 1990s is likely to seek significant improvements in mechanical systems.
The results were mixed, but research determined that there is significant potential for energy savings in almost any building, and that deep carbon renovations are viable and cost effective for many office archetypes right now. of low and medium height as well as some IRLM and primary schools.
Office buildings are the âfruit at hand,â the report says.
“Almost any archetypal office building can achieve net zero carbon operations, while still achieving positive net present value (NPV),” the report says. âThis suggests that in-depth carbon renovations make sense for these buildings today, especially the archetypes of the 1970s, which included upgrades to the enclosure. “
Hutchinson said, âWe need to commit to developing transition plans for each building, outlining how each asset will decarbonize over time. “
The report highlighted barriers to adoption across several categories, with economic challenges among others addressed by Lightburn in his presentation.
âWhen we look at the ROI versus the hassle factor, that can certainly be a barrier for many building owners,â she said as an example. âThere is also a split incentive challenge where the potential benefits of deep carbon modernization do not necessarily flow to the party making the investment.
âWe are also seeing skepticism about the performance. Undertaking renovations of this depth is relatively new to the market, there isn’t a lot of good data, maybe the technology is new. So there is certainly potentially some hesitation there. “
Among a wide range of recommendations for all parties to consider, owners were urged to consider the need to expand the use of innovative approaches to project development, such as no upfront capital payment , treatment of off-balance sheet debt, sharing of costs and benefits, and reduction of project risks through performance guarantees.
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