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At the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) 2023 Building Lasting Change conference in Vancouver that took place on June 1-2, Iain MacDonald, senior research officer at the National Research Council (NRC), outlined key considerations for the forthcoming 2025 version of Canada’s National Building Code (NBC).

The 2025 code will introduce technical requirements for existing buildings and incorporate measures to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. MacDonald highlighted the novelty of national regulations specifically targeting the efficiency of existing buildings, as many local governments already have similar provisions in place.

The inclusion of GHGs in the building code represents a substantial change. MacDonald emphasized that this entails not only developing the necessary technical requirements for all new buildings but also implementing policy changes associated with these requirements.

The 2025 code will establish operational GHG emission standards, with further embodied carbon requirements expected in the 2030 code.

MacDonald acknowledged that a significant challenge in developing national standards lies in accommodating the unique energy dependencies of each province and locality. Determining whether to prioritize carbon reductions in buildings or improvements to the clean energy grid presents a complex decision.

To address this complexity, efforts are underway to introduce flexibility into the code that can be adopted uniformly across provinces and territories.

The NRC is focused on scaling up decarbonization efforts in Canadian construction, emphasizing the need for collaboration to achieve substantial progress.

MacDonald emphasized the importance of removing barriers to low-energy retrofit projects and implementing carbon evaluation. Additionally, ensuring the robustness of key supply chains before implementing regulations is a key focus area.

While Canada prepares to unveil its new NBC, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is actively working on the next version of LEED standards.

Peter Templeton, President and CEO of USGBC, emphasized that the future of decarbonization through LEED encompasses all aspects of the industry. Efforts are being made to mitigate GHG emissions across various activities influenced by builders, designers, and occupants of buildings.