There are many reasons why investing in greener buildings makes sense including the growing demand from tenants and other stakeholders.
But a new report says that not only do zero carbon buildings show a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gases, there are financial benefits too.
The report from the Canada Green Building Council shows that zero carbon buildings are financially viable today, with a positive financial return over a 25-year life-cycle, inclusive of carbon pollution pricing, and requiring only a modest capital cost premium.
Adopting this approach across the seven key building types studied in the report – including offices, big box warehouses, and residential – would result in over four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year avoided cost-effectively, representing over 22% of the 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions that the Pan-Canadian Framework recognizes as potential savings from the building sector.
“The cost of not adopting Zero Carbon Buildings grows with each passing day. This study shows us definitively that Zero Carbon Buildings can be achieved with existing market-ready technologies and approaches for most building types, and that operating cost savings will cover the needed investments," says Thomas Mueller, President and Chief Executive Officer at CaGBC. "The Canadian building industry and governments now have proof to make the changes needed to create Canada's low carbon building stock and avoid creating buildings that will become a liability in a carbon constrained economy."
Returns highest for mid, low -rise offices
The economic case for Zero Carbon Buildings is reinforced over time with the rising cost of carbon, increased resiliency, and by avoiding costs such as future retrofits.
Nationally, mid-rise and low-rise offices offer the highest life-cycle returns at close to 3%; warehouses and big box retail facilities can yield returns above 1%; and multi-unit residential buildings and primary schools are cost neutral or nearly cost neutral.
"This study shows that Zero Carbon Buildings provide tangible benefits to owner-operators, design teams and policy decisionmakers," says Antoni Paleshi, Senior Energy Performance Specialist (Sustainability & Energy), WSP in Canada, who co-authored the study. "There is an opportunity for building owner-operators, design teams and governments to demonstrate leadership in normalizing the processes and technologies that will make Zero Carbon Buildings the go to industry standard for building excellence."
The study, "Making The Case For Building To Zero Carbon," is available at cagbc.org/MakingtheCase.
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