Canada Green Building Council updates Zero Carbon Building Standard

The Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) recent updates to its Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard is designed to accelerate adoption of zero carbon building practices – and help the country meet its climate targets.

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According to the CaGBC, the organization’s made-in-Canada ZCB Standard provides the industry with a zero-carbon approach that works for any type of new or existing building.

Version 2 draws on learnings from over 20 real-world ZCB-projects and aims to get more buildings to zero faster by providing more options for different design strategies, and recognizing high-quality carbon offsets when necessary.

ZCB-Design guides the design of new buildings, as well as the retrofit of existing structures, while ZCB-Performance provides a framework for verifying buildings have achieved zero carbon and must be revisited annually.

ZCB Standard v2 updates focus on these key components:

  • Embodied Carbon: Projects must now reduce and offset carbon emissions for the building’s life-cycle including those associated with the manufacture and use of construction materials.
  • Refrigerants: ZCB Standard v2 encourages best practices to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants that, when released, can have significant short-term impacts on climate.
  • Energy Efficiency: ZCB Standard v2 promotes the efficient use of clean energy with more stringent energy efficiency and airtightness requirements.
  • Innovation: ZCB-Design encourages innovation by requiring projects demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

The CaGBC states that building operations today represent 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or closer to 30 per cent when embodied carbon from construction and materials are factored in.

These updates balance the rigour needed to meaningfully eliminate carbon, while also being flexible enough for zero carbon buildings to reach the mainstream. The updates provide the guidance for more owners and developers to build to zero now and as part of their plans for the future.

“There is no time to waste or reason to wait. Zero carbon buildings represent the best opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions today,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and President, CaGBC “The changes we’ve made give the industry and government a clear path to show carbon leadership with positive climate action that future-proofs buildings, encourages innovation, and drives job growth.”

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