Global Opportunities

Sustainble building technologies gaining momentum in Canada

Recent government initiatives, such as a proposed nationwide carbon tax to meet Canada’s emission targets as part of the Paris Agreement, have resulted in growing interest among Canadians in energy efficient and sustainable buildings. In a country where energy is relatively cheap thanks to electricity from readily available hydropower, government initiatives are crucial to create incentives for energy efficient buildings.

Vancouver enhances sustainable building technologies
Vancouver enhances sustainable building technologies

British Columbia at the forefront of green innovation

Within Canada, the province of British Columbia (BC) has long been at the forefront of green innovation, and is poised to become North America’s hotbed for cleantech marketdevelopments. According to a 2016 report by the Toronto-based organization Corporate Knights Inc,, which publishes the business magazine Corporate Knights and includes a research division that produces rankings based on corporate sustainability performance, the province was home to Canada’s six greenest buildings, compared to four buildings in Ontario, one in Quebec and Nova Scotia. BC was also home to Canada’s first Passive House, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics. In Vancouver, which is known for its tall glass high-rises that dominate the cityscape, a project featuring the world’s tallest Passive house building has recently been proposed. Interestingly, the Vancouver Sun, which reported on the proposal, cited sourcing materials that do not yet exist as one of the biggest challenges.

In 2017, BC was home to 20,100 green buildings. Pembina Institute, a Canadian think tank, has published a map that shows the types (LEED certified, Passive Houses, etc.) and location of the buildings. The green economy is also a big driver for BC’s economy: In 2017, Pembina reported 31,700 jobs in BC’s sustainable building sector, an increase of more than 36% compared to 2015.

BC’s government initiatives accelerate the adoption of green building standards

BC’s booming sustainable building sector is mainly a result of its favorable governmentinitiatives, such as its provincial carbon tax or the BC Step Code. Canada has a nationalenergy code for buildings, however it only comes into effect when a province enforcesregulations related to the code. A province can choose to adapt the code or even enactstricter regulations. BC’s Step Code goes beyond the provincial building code to furtheraccelerate the adoption of sustainable building standards. It was introduced with the aim tomake buildings net-zero energy ready by 2032. Instead of prescribing how to build, thecode sets an energy efficiency target and lets the builder decide on how to achieve it.In addition to government initiatives, a well-trained workforce of architects, engineers,designers and construction workers that know how to build according to these newstandards are indispensable. In order to ensure better training, exchange of knowledgeand collaboration in the sustaibale building space, the city of Vancouver inaugurated a ZeroEmissions Building Exchange (Zebx) in July 2018. Zebx, a non-profit organization islocated at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Building in downtown Vancouver.

Buildex Vancouver – Western Canada's largest tradeshow for the building industry

Buildex Vancouver, which will take place on February 12 and 13, 2020, is Western Canada’s largest tradeshow and conference for the Construction, Renovation, Architecture, Interior Design and Property Management industries. With over 600 exhibits, and more than 80 educational seminars Buildex attracts over 14,000 attendees annually. The visit of Buildex Vancouver is part of the Sustainable Building Mission to Vancouver organized by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) and the Swiss Business Hub Canada for Swiss companies in the building technology sector from February 9 to 14 2020 (see box). 

Sustainble building mission to Vancouver- join us!

S-GE and the Swiss Business Hub Canada see an increasing demand for sustainable building products and services in Canada, that is currently not met by local suppliers. From 9-14 February 2020, we are therefore organizing a Sustainable Building Mission to Vancouver - the city at the forefront of the zero emissions building movement. The aim of this trip is to enable Swiss companies to get to know the Canadian sustainable building market, to establish their networt with Canadian companies and experts and to expand their business in Canada. Are you active in the sustainable building industry – working in sustainable building materials, processes and designs, wood construction, retrofitting, planning, etc.? Then don't miss this opportunity!