CaGBC updates zero carbon building standard


The Wilkinson Warehouse project was able to achieve extremely high efficiency through reduced infiltration, better insulation values, efficient heating systems, and automation.

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has updated their Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) standard. The update will take effect March 10. Version two (v2) is designed to accelerate the building practices related to the standard – and help Canada meet its climate targets while spurring innovation and job growth.

ZCB standard v2 provides two pathways for any type of building to get to zero carbon: ZCB-Design and ZCB-Performance. The design initiative guides how the new building is designed or how to retrofit an existing structure. The performance part of the standard will provide a framework for verifying buildings have achieved zero carbon and must be revisited annually. The updates focus on:

  • Embodied carbon: projects must reduce and offset carbon emissions for the building’s life cycle including those associated with the manufacture and use of construction materials.
  • Refrigerants: encourages best practices to minimize potential leaks of refrigerants that could have significant impacts on climate.
  • Energy efficiency: promotes the efficient use of clean energy with more stringent energy efficiency and airtightness requirements.
  • Innovation: requires projects to demonstrate two innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

Canada’s buildings are a major contributor to carbon emissions, and updates to the ZCB Standard reflect the urgent need to change, reports CaGBC. Building operations represent 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions or closer to 30 per cent when embodied carbon from construction and materials are factored in.

The updates are based upon the current 20 ZCB-projects – which launched in 2017.

“There is no time to waste or reason to wait. Zero carbon buildings represent the best opportunity for cost-effective emissions reductions today,” said Thomas Mueller, CEO and president of the CaGBC “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.”

To read the full Standard, or to see the full list of pilot and certified projects, please go to


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