With the release of the 2023 Federal budget, we’re happy to see an emphasis on decarbonizing and upgrading the electrical grid. As net-zero building increases and we shift from non-renewable resources to electricity, our grid must be clean and able to handle significant demand increase. This budget lays out a wide variety of tools to do this.
But we are concerned about this budget’s lack of direct support for technologies that target emission reductions in buildings. Passive House Canada has advocated for financial incentives for manufacturers of high-performance building components, but many proven products such as ventilation systems and windows are not yet on the Federal Government’s list of approved technologies. Government must invest and support proven passive house/high-performance component solutions before spending millions of dollars on unproven technology. We know how to massively reduce greenhouse gas pollution emitted by the building sector using existing methodologies and components. Let’s make sure everyone knows how to build better, like passive house, and ensure building designers have the components available in the quantify they need and at reasonable prices.
Setting industry targets through policy
Governments play a crucial role in increasing the adoption of high-performance buildings. Passive House Canada has continually advocated for the Federal Government to focus on emission reductions through high-performance building in its consultations on the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the draft Canada Green Building Strategy, the Greening Government Strategy, and more. We believe policies like these signals to industry where government regulation is going, allowing business to be prepared. By investing in high-performance buildings for itself, government can help to de-risk the process for industry. By setting a high standard for building performance, the federal government can provide certainty to developers and building owners, which can encourage investment in high-performance buildings. This can help to create a stable market for high-performance products and services, which can in turn reduce costs for consumers and drive innovation in the industry.
Late in 2022, the federal government’s Treasury Board released its Standard on Embodied Carbon in Construction that applies to public procurement and targets, among many things, embodied carbon in concrete. Specifically, federal government projects must use lower carbon concrete, where available, so that the total GHG emissions associated with the project’s concrete is at least ten per cent less than the regional average for concrete. This standard will help the Canadian concrete industry to develop low-carbon concrete solutions more quickly and in turn support this government’s “Buy Clean” strategy, and alerts markets such as steel, aluminum and forestry to the direction they need to move in.
The next step is for government to lead through public tenders and to set requirements for Passive House Standard or net-zero equivalent buildings in their building stock more regularly. The Treasury Board now compels major Government of Canada suppliers to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and set reduction targets, and we are anticipating this will apply to those corporations supplying building design and construction services over $25M.
Policy Meets Action
At our upcoming Passive House Canada Conference, May 8-10, we’ll examine ways policy and the building industry intersect. While net-zero building policies are being debated and implemented in a geographically inconsistent way, buildings still need to be delivered. That’s why we’re bringing policy makers – such as Dario Liguti, head of Sustainable Building at the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe, and Jerome Bilodeau at the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada – together with builders, designers, manufacturers and affordable housing developers. Now is the time for crucial dialogue among these different sectors of our industry. I’m delighted that Passive House Canada is able to provide a forum for these discussions.
I hope you will join us in-person in Hamilton or live online at this year’s conference. The conference is eligible for education credits. As a bonus feature of our programming this year, we’re pleased to be able to offer in-person conference participants the opportunity to tour five of Hamilton’s most impressive Passive House projects. You’ll need an additional ticket for this special event, Wednesday May 10 from 1-6 pm, as we will be busing people to the sites. You can add the Project Tour when you purchase your in-person ticket. Those who have already received their in-person tickets can purchase the tour separately.
I hope to see of you in Hamilton next month, or online virtually! Check out the conference program here.