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CaGBC announces updates to Zero Carbon Building Standard

The new updates focus on embodied carbon, refrigerants, energy efficiency and innovation as pathways to reduce carbon output.

March 16, 2020  By  Megan Hoegler

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has made several updates to its Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard in order to fast track carbon reductions.

The updates, which launched on March 10, are designed to accelerate the adoption of zero carbon building practices and help Canada meet its climate targets while spurring innovation and job growth.

Canada’s buildings are a top contributor to carbon emissions, representing 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Updates to the ZCB Standard reflect the urgent need for change.

The ZCB Standard v2 provides two pathways for any type of building to reach zero carbon. ZCB-Design guides the design of new buildings, as well as the retrofit of existing structures. ZCB-Performance provides a framework for verifying buildings have achieved zero carbon and must be revisited annually.


ZCB Standard v2 updates focus on these key components:

  • Embodied Carbon: Projects must now reduce and offset carbon emissions for the building’s life-cycle, including those associated with the manufacture and use of construction materials.
  • Refrigerants: ZCB Standard v2 encourages best practices to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants that, when released, can have significant short-term impacts on climate.
  • Energy Efficiency: ZCB Standard v2 promotes the efficient use of clean energy with more stringent energy efficiency and airtightness requirements.
  • Innovation: ZCB-Design encourages innovation by requiring projects demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

These updates  are designed to eliminate carbon outputs, while also being flexible enough for zero carbon buildings to reach the mainstream. The updates also provide the guidance for more owners and developers to build to zero now and as part of their plans for the future.

“There is no time to waste or reason to wait. Zero carbon buildings represent the best opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions today,” Thomas Mueller, CEO and President of CaGBC, said in a company release. “The changes we’ve made give the industry and government a clear path to show carbon leadership with positive climate action that future-proofs buildings, encourages innovation, and drives job growth.”

The new Standard can be found on CaGBC’s website.

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