Canada's Condominium Magazine
The green building industry generated more economic benefits and employed more people in Canada in 2014 than oil and gas extraction, mining and forestry combined. A report from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) estimates that nearly 300,000 full-time workers were employed in the industry, which generated $23.45 billion in GDP. More than half of the jobs (55 per cent) were in construction and the building trades.
The focus on sustainability in the building industry is being embraced by more and more equipment manufacturers, architects and engineers, the construction trades and property managers and investors, CaGBC says. The huge growth in the number of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings is evidence of this. In 2005 there were thirty-one LEED-certified buildings in Canada: in 2015 there were 2,576. According to the CaGBC, the economic impact of these LEED projects over their life time, assumed to be thirty-three years, will be $128 billion in gross output and $62.3 billion in GDP.
Canada has developed particular expertise in cold climate-related engineering and design, home construction and energy-efficient technologies and materials. The report says that more Canadian companies are developing advanced green building materials that are being exported, including heat exchangers and heat recovery systems, heat pumps, high-efficiency boilers, drain water heat recovery technology, geothermal and solar energy systems, high-performance windows and building envelope technologies.
With a background in cold-climate science and construction expertise, Canada’s green building industry has developed strengths in areas that include related engineering and design, quality home construction, and a range of energy-efficient/ sustainable technologies and materials. Canada is recognized for its design and related professional services (engineering, architecture, planning, and community infrastructure).
Nevertheless, the CaGBC report notes that the construction industry needs to invest more in research and development if it is to benefit from innovation and improved productivity. Government has a large role to play here as well. The president and CEO of CaGBC, Thomas Mueller, said that governments ought to be investing more in research and development and providing financial incentives for owners and developers. Some provinces need to do more to support green building, and few Canadian companies are competing internationally.
As well, residential developers bear more of the costs for implementing improved energy efficiency but don’t reap the benefits. “This is an area that requires a third party such as a utility to finance energy improvements and then recoup their costs from the energy savings of the building,” Mueller said.
A WorldGBC report just released is similarly optimistic about the future of green building globally. Green building is expected to double by 2018, with strong growth forecast for countries like China, Brazil and India. A survey of companies in the building industry found that more than one-third (37 per cent) anticipated that most of their projects (60 per cent) would be green by 2018.