Building a more sustainable Canada: How institutions can contribute by utilizing retrofits

Updated on March 21st, 2023

Building a more sustainable Canada: How institutions can contribute by utilizing retrofits

Our built environment is the home where Canadians work, live, and play, but it’s also responsible for a sizeable portion of our greenhouse gas emissions. 

Transitioning to a cleaner, prosperous economy is a top priority with implemented measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change, and transform the economy into a greener one. With the goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the decarbonization of the buildings sector is critical in combating climate change in order to keep the world safe and livable for its occupants. 

Consistent innovation and sustained efforts are necessary to meet this long-term goal. Canada has led by example with taking strides towards developing a zero-carbon environment by supporting various net-zero initiatives throughout the nation. One such measure is a $58 million investment into 24 projects across 12 universities to aid in achieving the country’s sustainability goals. This goal requires support and engagement from all parts of society to be successful, including institutional properties.

The built environment generates 40% of annual global CO2 emissions, and accounts for 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions. Being responsible for such a large portion of the planet’s carbon emissions, energy conservation is crucial to meeting sustainability goals and reducing an institution’s carbon footprint.

While a common thought to achieve sustainability in the environment is linked to new builds, our current building stock holds a mountain of potential to reach these net-zero goals through various green initiatives, a key one being retrofits. 

Retrofitting for sustainability

As a growing practice used to green buildings, building owners are undertaking retrofits in their institutions to reduce costs and energy while benefitting occupants and the environment. According to a recent report by JLL, retrofitting buildings will be the quickest and most cost-effective way to accelerate decarbonization.

However, there is still hesitance from many building owners, real estate developers and commercial businesses alike to utilize this practice due to the capital costs of investing in a retrofit. This understanding exhibits the lack of awareness of the significant savings retrofits can provide. Retrofitting could save up to 60% of a building’s energy consumption, translating into direct savings in energy expenditure.

By investing in retrofits, institutions can:

  • Decrease energy costs
  • Lessen maintenance requirements
  • Create a more pleasant interior environment for occupants
  • Enhance the value and productivity of the building
  • Lower its environmental footprint

Once your institution is retrofitted, the best way to promote its long-term sustainability is with maintenance measures in place. A green institutional building must prioritize monitoring to ensure everything works as intended, and having the right energy monitoring and management system in place helps to avoid potential issues. With properties at the macro level such as these, it’s vital to implement the appropriate key load metering technology to monitor an institution’s load efficiency for continued sustainability and accurate energy cost allocation. 

Retrofitting for the future

Decarbonizing the built environment at the rate needed to meet net-zero goals by 2050 will be far more successful with retrofits. Creating a sustainable building sector requires all hands on deck, and institutions play a role in bringing the environment towards a zero-emissions, efficient, and resilient economy.