Moving Forward with Canada’s Net Zero Building Design

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Moving Forward with Canada’s Net Zero Building Design
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Architectural rendering of The Joyce Center for Partnership and Innovation opening in 2018 (Source: Mohawk College)

Mohawk College’s Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, a rare example of a net-zero energy institutional building that is currently under construction for a 2018 opening. Boasting a 500-kilowatt solar array, 24 geothermal wells and numerous efficiency features, the project will serve as a living laboratory for students to learn about sustainability, with live data from the building systems easily accessible to support hands-on education. In addition, the construction of the Joyce Centre will be the proving ground for twin initiatives aimed at getting the carbon out of construction: the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC’s) Zero Carbon Buildings Framework and EllisDon’s Carbon Impact Initiative.

In 2016, the World Green Building Council set out targets for the buildings sector. All new construction and major renovations are expected to be net zero by 2030. By 2050, the council expects all buildings, old and new, to be net zero. The Canada Green Building Council (CaBC) is one of eight councils from around the world that has been tasked with developing the certification and training needed to make highly efficient buildings the new standard in construction.

To that end, the CaGBC rolled out its Zero Carbon Buildings Framework last fall—the first step toward the creation of a new net-zero building standard for Canada, which should be released by the organization in the second quarter of 2017. The Joyce Centre is intended to be just the first of several pilot projects that will help the CaGBC refine the standard before release.

The framework highlights five key components of any zero-carbon construction plan: renewable energy, either produced on site or purchased from somewhere off site; as well as metrics for the building’s energy intensity, embodied carbon, greenhouse gas emissions and peak energy demand.

EllisDon’s Carbon Impact Initiative will be grappling with many similar questions from a different angle. Launched in mid-2016, the initiative brings together major players from several different areas of the buildings sector, including the likes of WSP Global, the Cement Association of Canada, Cisco Systems and Avison Young. With EllisDon serving as contractor on the Joyce Centre, the project is a natural fit for the first pilot, but the company is already looking to add more to the cause.

Whereas the CaGBC is developing metrics for builders looking to go net zero, the EllisDon effort looks at the problem of reducing carbon from the industry’s perspective. What are the practical steps a builder will need to take to create a net-zero project? Which supports are already available and which are missing? In the Carbon Impact Initiative report, EllisDon outlines four areas where it will focus its energies: building net-zero projects, developing carbon accounting, adopting clean technologies and finding financial models that can support these projects.

This post is an excerpt from an article written by Joseph Caouette. You can read the full here.

More about the Zero Carbon Building Framework can be found here.

To learn more about EllisDon's Carbon Impact Initiative please visit their website.

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