16.8 Certification Systems: CaGBC

Author: Jazmin Wolff

ABSTRACT: The CaGBC, Canadian Green Building Council, sets the standards for the green building certification system and educates its members about sustainable practices. They are a not-for-profit organization that studies environmental and economic factors in order to learn from them and accelerate the transformation of green buildings throughout Canada.

CAGBC : What we do.


In 2017, CaGBC released the world’s first Zero Carbon Building Standard with a goal to reach Canada’s climate change target of reducing our carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this, they planned on offsetting each building’s annual operational and material carbon emissions.

Their leading trends and drivers are climate change, the circular economy, inclusive buildings, healthy buildings, the retrofit economy, and embodied carbon and sustainable materials.

Both, the environment, and the people that interact with the ‘green’ building will benefit from it. Specific examples of ways that people can benefit are:

  • construction companies can gain credibility,
  • government members can demonstrate leadership, and
  • professional firms can gain knowledge and learn new values.


The CaGBC’s main focus is for the construction industry to create efficient buildings using sustainable practices.

The CaGBC is working towards the digitization of buildings to reduce energy consumption and operational costs from mechanical and electrical systems. In addition, reducing energy loss with reliable energy storage systems that allows thermal energy to be stored for hours to months after it is produced, eliminates waste.

To reach the goal of creating zero impact buildings there needs to be government intervention over the next ten years. In the GaGBC’s Climate Forward Scenario, they predict that if no further government intervention takes place, by 2030, CO2e will be reduced by 22.5 Mt, however, if they adopt the Climate Forward Plan, CO2e will be reduced by 53.0 Mt.

While 80 percent of all green building activity is new construction, existing buildings are a virtually untapped sector of the industry. 17 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributed to the nation’s 2.9 billion square meters of inefficient buildings and homes, according to Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. When construction and materials are considered, the number rises to nearly 30 percent.


The CaGBC also considers social sustainability factors. Better mental and physical health benefits could result as the biproduct of elevated environmental conditions. This would primarily result from the reduction of indoor air pollutants and contaminants.

The 2020 CaGBC Marketing Impact and Opportunities Report states that, in the near future, green buildings will foster and support more Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Retrofitting buildings is a low-cost alternative to building a completely new building. Doing this would also remove the upfront carbon associated with creating a building from scratch.

Lastly, the expansion of the green building industry will create new job opportunities. If CaGBC’s Climate Forward Scenario is fulfilled, between 17 to 57 percent of national employment growth in the green building industry will be expected between 2020 and 2030. This will lead to $150 billion of direct gross domestic product as well as 1,470,032 jobs directly contributed by the green building industry. Decreasing Canada’s employment rate should be a priority after the 2020 surge to 9.5% of Canadians being unemployed.

In conclusion, making choices that positively impact the environment and economy is important, whether it is through green building certification or not. You can always make green choices when creating a building, but if you need a reward, then getting the certification is a good motivating factor.


Canada’s Green Building Engine. https://www.cagbc.org/

CaGBC® Zero Carbon Building Standard: Frequently Asked Questions. Advanced Solutions International. https://www.cagbc.org/our-work/certification/zero-carbon-building-standard/

Canada’s Green Building Engine. Market Impact and Opportunities in a Critical Decade. https://www.cagbc.org/news-resources/research-and-reports/canadas-green-building-engine/

Canadian Green Building Council. Zero Carbon Building Performance Standard. Version 2. March 2020. CaGBC_Zero_Carbon_Building_Standard_v2_Design.pdf

Environment and Climate Change Canada (2016). “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change: Canada’s Plan to Address Climate Change and Grow the Economy,” p. 14. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange/pan-canadian-framework.html

Natural Resources Canada. “Residential Housing Stock and Floor Space.” Retrieved from https://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/statistics/neud/dpa/showTable.cfm?type=HB&sector=res&juris=00&rn=11&page=0

Natural Resources Canada. “Commercial/Institutional Energy Prices and Background Indicators.” Retrieved from https://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/statistics/neud/dpa/showTable.cfm?type=HB&sector=com&juris=00&rn=7&page=0

United Nations Environment Programme (2019). 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction: Towards a Zero Emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector, p. 9. Retrieved from https://www.unep.org/resources/publication/2019-global-status-report-buildings-and-construction-sector

Varrella, S. Unemployment Rate in Canada 2000-2020. (March 9, 2021). • Unemployment rate Canada 2020 | Statista Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/578362/unemployment-rate-canada/#:~:text=In%202020%2C%209.5%20percent%20of%20the%20labor%20force,of%20u%20nemployment%20in%20Canada%20from%202000%20to%202020


Jazmin Wolff is a third-year interior design student passionate about creating commercial wellness spaces where people feel comfortable and safe. She is currently pursuing her WELL AP to get a better understanding of how different environmental conditions can affect the way people interpret and interact with a space.

Leave a Reply