Nationwide retrofit strategy in Canada could cut 51% of emissions from large buildings

The roadmap provides government and industry with a targeted plan.

October 02, 2017 |
The Toronto skyline at night

A nationwide retrofit strategy could cut 51% of emissions from large buildings in Canada, according to a new Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

The report includes recommendations that CaGBC says would reduce 21 million tons of carbon by 2030, help the government achieve its climate change goals, and grow the economy. CaGBC researchers analyzed 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.

Among the findings and recommendations:

  • Buildings including office buildings, shopping malls, universities, and arenas constructed between 1960 and 1979 represent the age class with the largest opportunity for carbon emissions reductions.
  • Alberta and Ontario currently emit the most carbon. 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 sf and 200,000 sf) and deep retrofits for buildings over 35 years old. These two actions will reduce emissions by 4.1 MT CO2e, providing 62% of the reduction needed to meet the goal.
  • Fuel switching must be completed in 20% 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.
  • In provinces with carbon intense electricity grids—Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia—30% of buildings will need to use renewable energy in order to meet the target.
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