Green buildings and the Federal election

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) have adopted goals for reducing green house gas emissions and introducing environmentally sustainable building practices by certain times. How do their goals compare to those established by the current Federal Government and the Parties running in the Federal Election?

The short answer is that the major Federal parties the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Party (NDP) don't have green building policies making a comparison difficult. They do however have environment policies and goals for reducing green house has emissions that one can assume include buildings.   The Green Party has a green building policy which is part of an extensive ‘green’ platform posted to their website and RENX did not review the policies of the Bloque Quebecois.

According to Thomas Meuller, Executive Director of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)  “Non of the Major Federal Parties have official policies with respect to green buildings.  It is a lack of realization that buildings make up 30% of green house gas emissions in Canada. It is not just cars, but buildings that also contribute to GHG’s.”

“A strategy that acknowledges the size of the building market, size of the industry and the amount of environmental impact generated by the construction and operation of building is just not recognized.“

The CaGBC promotes what it refers to as ‘a building-centric climate change strategy' that is detailed on the organizations website.  The goal for the strategy is:

"Through market based solutions and provision of tools to industry and partners, the CaGBC aims to support the performance improvement of 100,000 buildings and 1,000,000 homes across Canada by 2015, with a verified 50% reduction in energy and water use from a 2005 baseline."

The CaGBC plan complements the goals of the Architecture 2030 Challenge , a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization, established in response to global-warming.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has adopted the goals of Architecture 2030. It calls for an immediate 50% reduction in energy consumption from the regional (or country) average for that building type for all new buildings from 2002 levels, an 80% reduction by 2020 and a fully carbon neutral building sector by 2030.

The goals for the reduction of Green House Gas Emissions by the Conservative, Liberal and NDP are similar and relate to the entire country while the goal for the Green Party is significantly more aggressive and relate specifically to the building sector.

The Green Party green building platform states that a “Green Government will set a goal to retrofit 100% of Canada’s buildings to a high level of energy efficiency by 2025 and require all new homes and buildings be zero net energy after 2025.”  It then lists the tools and policies it deems necessary to deliver its platform.

The NDP and Liberals are using 1990 as a baseline year and the Liberals call for a 20% reduction in GHG's by 2020 the NDP a 25% reduction. The Conservatives also call for a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 but it is not clear from where they benchmark the change.

The Liberal Party are promoting Green Shift, a political platform that at its core is a 'carbon' tax on those who pollute, create green house gas emissions and waste coupled with a program to cut income taxes and taxes associated with innovation and investment.

While campaigning the Liberals announced the Liberal House Reno Program which calls for up to 40% reduction in GHG’s by retrofitting 50% of Canadian homes by 2020 and 100% by 2030.

The NDP advocate for a cap-and-trade system for pricing carbon but there are no building specific proposals in the platform described on their website.

Goals for Reduction in Green House Gas Emissions and Reduction in Use of Energy

(Please check the relevant websites for full details and note that  this chart does not provide directly comparable information.)

Year Conservative Party
RAIC (an Architecture 2030 adopter) Canada Green Building Council
2008 50% reduction in energy use for new buildings.  50% reduction for equivalent number of existing buildings.
2015 Cut air pollution in half for entire country 70% reduction in energy use for new buildings from 2002 levels. 50% reduction in energy consumption and water use from 2005 levels for buildings.
2020 20% reduction in green house gas emissions for entire country including buildings. 80% reduction in energy use for new buildings.
2030 A carbon neutral building sector.

The Conservative record and goal for green house gas emmissions is described as follows on its campaign website with no specific mention of buildings and there is no baseline year provided in the policy statement on the website. 

“Introduced a balanced, achievable plan to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and cut air pollution in half by 2015. “

The site also describes a $2-billion dollar ecoENERGY initiative addressing better use of traditional energy sources and $1.5 bilion trust for clean air and climate change partnership with the Provinces for investment in large scale infrastructure programs.

The Federal Government is one of the largest landlords in the country and according to its website is working to “reduce the environmental footprint of its operations related to real property.”

It has committed to ensuring that new and existing buildings use 30 percent more energy efficient than required by the Model National Energy Code for Buildings. In 2007 it implemented the use of the BOMA Go Green Plus environmental assessment program for all existing government buildings and new buildings are required to meet the LEED Gold standard.

Thomas Meuller, Executive Director of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) said he would like “to see the parties pay attention to the built environment, communities and land policies.” He added that “carbon emissions are still going up.”

“A building centric policy is very tangible and actionable. It provides an immediate way of reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact by reducing waste, energy and water usage.”  he added.

The CaGBC website says that "Buildings represent the largest “no-regrets” opportunity to reduce GHG emissions and to contribute to economic growth. Through the next generation of LEED and the building performance management system, the CaGBC will provide the framework for building owners, corporations and policy-makers to guide continuous improvement towards these goals."

"A buildings-centric strategy will engage all Canadians in the climate change solution, leading the way to the broader societal changes required for a sustainable future."

Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

Read more

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