By Zac Wagman, Senior Manager of Market Access at SFI
The Canada Green Building Council’s Green Building Day on the Hill was a chance for leaders in the building sector to meet with public servants and Parliamentarians to discuss how green building can help advance critical priorities like job growth, innovation, and environmental sustainability while supporting Canada’s climate objectives.
The government’s participation in Green Building Day on the Hill and its commitment to adopting a Green Buildings Strategy are significant and promising steps. Using forest products in green building is a critical part of achieving the Government of Canada commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Canada’s green building sector is one of the best solutions to reduce carbon emissions, increase jobs, and grow the economy. The Canada Green Building Council, in an open letter published in the Hill Times, said “supporting green building through proactive policies and investments could triple the number of jobs to almost 1.5 million, contribute $150 billion to Canada’s GDP, and result in a reduction of 53 MtCO2e of carbon compared with 2018 levels — all by 2030.”
Kathy Abusow, President & CEO of SFI, is a signatory to the Canada Green Building Council letter, and SFI supports the Council’s work to promote green buildings and their role in fighting climate change. SFI‑certified wood is a good choice for construction and renovations because it is a sustainable, natural, and renewable resource.
During the session “Federal Leadership on Green Building and Net-Zero Opportunities,” government representatives discussed the federal incentives and programs aimed at getting Canada to net zero by 2050. The greatest opportunity we see is to explore the climate-related advantages of wood in green buildings.
The panel “Green Building and Federal Political Landscape, an Overview” featured David Colletto, CEO of Abacus Data, and several high-ranking public servants. A recent Abacus Data survey led by Colletto, What Do Canadians Think of Canada’s Forest Products Sector?, showed ample evidence of the forest sector’s positive reputation with Canadians. But the survey found that only 23% of respondents were aware that “by building with wood, we can increase the amount of carbon stored in cities to a level that equals some of the most carbon-rich forests on the planet.”
The survey concludes with a positive view of the potential for green buildings to be an important part of mitigating climate change: “As the public’s concern about climate change and sustainable grows, so too will its demand for sustainable building materials. Canada’s forest products sector is well positioned to respond. I suspect its reputation will continue to improve as more Canadians learn about what the sector is doing to meet the climate crisis head-on.”
In the Hill Times letter, the signatories spelled out that net zero by 2050 will depend on “forward-thinking regulations and targeted government support for zero-carbon buildings and deep-carbon retrofits.” The letter also cited how our main trading partners are already moving ahead, with regulations like the new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive of the European Union and the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States supporting green buildings.
I’m confident that the 2024 version of Green Building Day on the Hill will build on this year’s excellent event. I’m also hoping it will advance the discussions about how using forest products and green buildings to mitigate climate change will help Canada take climate action and build a more sustainable future.