On August 10th, the Ontario government announced $24 million in funding towards supporting green construction skills and training in the province.
According to Deb Matthews, the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, the funds for this initiative come from Ontario’s cap-and-trade revenues.
The Canada Green Building Council defines green buildings as those that have “clearly defined environment, economic, and social performance objectives that are measurable above and beyond the norm.” In other words, green buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained with a mind towards minimizing environmental impact, including greenhouse gases, and providing a healthy space for people to live, work, and grow.
Today, green construction accounts for $13.13 billion of Canada’s GDP and 13% of the construction work force, employing over 160,000 workers across the country. The sector will continue to grow as Canada adapts to renewable energy and works towards its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
How Green Construction Will Help Canada Meet Its Climate Goals
In 2015, Canada was one of the 194 nations to sign the Paris Agreement, a worldwide UN initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming. Canada’s current goal is to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Building infrastructure for renewable energy generation is a key part of these efforts. However, renewable energy alone won’t be enough. To meet their commitments, Canadians will also have to change how they consume resources.
Currently, residential and commercial buildings are responsible for 35% of annual greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and 20% in Ontario. That accounts for space and water heating, air conditioning, lighting, and appliances, as well as municipal water use.
Reducing these numbers will mean constructing more energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly buildings and retrofitting old construction with LED lighting, efficient insulation, and top-performance heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems.
Switching to green construction practices won’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term commitment that involves the work of thousands of skilled tradespeople, including pipefitters, masons, ironworkers, HVAC technicians, and mechanical engineers. Funding the development of green construction skills and training is a positive step towards a sustainable future in Ontario.
Green Building Certification in Canada
The primary building standards for green construction in Canada are BOMA BESt and LEED.
The Building Owners and Managers Association’s Building Environmental Standards (BOMA BESt) is a Canadian standard for commercial buildings, including offices, shopping centres, open air retail plazas, light industrial, and multi-unit residential buildings. The organization also advocates on behalf of the real estate industry. There are 2,227 BOMA BESt buildings in Canada.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an international certification program and benchmark for green buildings. There are over 2,800 LEED-certified buildings in Canada, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. To achieve certification, an independent third party must verify that the building meets standards beyond standard building practices to be healthy and sustainable. There are four levels of certification based on the number of ‘points’ the construction earns for energy efficiency, starting with Certified and ascending to Silver, Gold, and Platinum.