CaGBC study highlights gaps in zero carbon training for building-industry professionals

Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) released a new study that shows the building industry still has work to do to ensure professionals have access to the skills and knowledge required to deliver zero carbon buildings at scale.

According to the organization, Canada has committed to reaching a 30 per cent reduction below 2005 levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, intending to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The building sector has an opportunity to play a crucial role in meeting these targets.

“Transitioning to zero carbon buildings offers significant emissions reductions, but it also requires a shift in thinking and practice across the building sector,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of CaGBC. “Skilled job training is a critical element in shifting the industry toward a knowledgeable and prepared application of zero carbon building practices which will make a positive impact on Canada’s climate goals.”

CaGBC states that zero carbon buildings provide a proven pathway to achieve much-needed carbon reductions. However, the successful transition to zero carbon requires specific skills and knowledge. Building to a zero carbon standard can be more complex and demands that project teams work more collaboratively, from design through to completion and operation.

Building on an earlier CaGBC report entitled Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future, this new study looks at the training and education needs of engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists.

In Accelerating to Zero: Upskilling for Engineers, Architects, and Renewable Energy Specialists, CaGBC leveraged its Zero Carbon Building Standard to define the core competencies and sub-competencies needed to support zero carbon building by building industry professions.

The report establishes an industry baseline of zero carbon building skills and knowledge among engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists. This was achieved as a result of 318 survey respondents who self-reported their perceived knowledge and practical experience for the competencies, helping to identify knowledge and skills gaps.

In addition, CaGBC tracked preferred learning approaches and available training and education to better understand what opportunities exist for upskilling around these zero carbon competencies.

 The study found that barriers to zero carbon skills acquisition still exist. Further, it suggests that the building sector needs to prioritize the development of zero carbon building competencies for engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists – especially given their decisions early in the building process play a significant role in achieving a zero carbon building.

The study also highlights key considerations for education and training providers, accreditation and professional bodies, and policy decision-makers. These considerations include:

Ensure Education and Training is Relevant and Accessible

To address the need for zero carbon workforce upskilling, education and training providers, as well as accreditation and professional bodies, are encouraged to act on the following recommendations:

  1. Ensure education and training curricula address zero carbon building competencies.
  2. Support upskilling by establishing common terminology for courses and by investing in self-assessment tools.
  3. Drive enhanced professional credentialing requirements.
  4. Invest in, develop and support multiple delivery methods and formats.

Support and Invest in Education and Training for Zero Carbon

Policy decision-makers are encouraged to act on the following recommendations to maximize zero carbon building uptake:

  1. Demonstrate leadership through government-wide learning.
  2. Address gap for in-person learning with targeted incentives.
  3. Support the adoption of zero carbon building codes and related training and education.
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