Clean Economy Alliance releases recommendations for net-zero building in Ontario

Toronto, Ont.Today, the Clean Economy Alliance, a group of over 100 organizations, released a report outlining critical recommendations to ensure Ontario reduces greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. The Future of Buildings: Getting Ontario Ready for Net-Zero is the result of a months-long consultation process involving key stakeholders in Ontario’s building industry and other sectors. This report feeds into upcoming changes to the province’s building code and the commitment to require all buildings built after 2030 to have net-zero emissions.

“Currently, the building sector produces almost one quarter of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions,” says Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence. “In some urban areas like Toronto, that rises to half. With a growing population, Ontario needs transformative changes in the way we build and renovate buildings, and we need them now – before the current building boom locks in more polluting emissions. Updating Ontario’s building code holds the potential to greatly reduce these emissions.”

Some of the report’s key recommendations include: ramping up training programs and investment in low-carbon building; taking stock of the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from Ontario’s existing buildings; expanding and promoting retrofit opportunities; and empowering municipalities to take stronger action on climate change.

“Retrofitting existing buildings is key to reducing emissions,” says Jay Nordenstrom, Executive Director of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association. “Most of the buildings standing today will still be standing in 2030, in 2050 even. But they were built at a time when energy efficiency was less of a priority. Stimulating a retrofit economy will not only be integral to meeting Ontario’s emissions targets, but will create thousands of jobs in the industry. To feed this demand for skilled workers, we need to ramp up building sector training programs for low-carbon construction.”

“We have the ability to create net-zero buildings today,” says Terry Olynyk, Senior Construction Manager of Agile, PCL Construction’s DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) facility. “And they’re not just better from an environmental perspective – they’re better buildings. For the 2030 net-zero target to become the new normal, we need everyone – the province, the builders, financiers, homeowners and buyers – collaborating to evolve innovations like modular offsite construction, solar-ready roofs, and geothermal energy.

Cities with their own climate change plans and targets, like Toronto’s TransformTO, need to be empowered through the building code to tackle emissions from buildings more aggressively. The Clean Economy Alliance supports giving municipalities the power to go further and faster with low-carbon building through a Step Code, which provides a clear and consistent path for local governments to adopt more ambitious requirements.

“Ontario needs a common framework for innovation that charts a clear path to net-zero buildings. The current incremental approach does not yield consistent results and leaves industry guessing.” says Dave Ramslie, a sustainability policy expert who consulted on the report. “Allowing municipalities to implement green development standards at a faster pace will move technologies and workers along the adoption curve. This will help bring down costs and ensure the workforce is ready when this needs to scale up.”

The Clean Economy Alliance and its members look forward to continuing to drive innovation in the buildings sector to reduce emissions , create jobs, and achieve cost-savings for families and companies from reduced energy use.

About The CLEAN ECONOMY ALLIANCE (CEA): The CEA is a group of over 100 organizations representing a broad cross-section of Ontarians that united in 2015 to urge Ontario to show leadership in addressing the crucial issue of climate change. The CEA includes prominent Ontario businesses, industry associations, labour unions, farmers’ groups, health advocates, and environmental organizations. The Alliance supports the Ontario government’s commitments to develop and implement a climate change strategy and cap-and-trade program. Its members recognize that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will bring many benefits, including cleaner air, improved public health, and more jobs and business opportunities in the clean economy. For a full list of Clean Economy Alliance members, please visit www.cleaneconomyalliance.ca.

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext 247; 416-356-2587 (cell); abraude@environmentaldefence.ca