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How Can Net-Zero Emissions Be Achieved in the Construction Industry?

How Can Net-Zero Emissions Be Achieved in the Construction Industry?

Advice for contractorHow Can Net-Zero Emissions Be Achieved in the Construction Industry?

The climate change issue is now more relevant than ever, and the construction industry is facing a critical challenge: reducing its carbon footprint. As such, net-zero emissions, meaning achieving a balance between carbon emissions generated by construction activities along mitigation efforts are now becoming a priority. In this article, we’ll delve into the different strategies and measures implemented to achieve this noble goal. 

Canada and Carbon Neutral Construction

net-zero emissions

Source: Canva

Canada is one of the most commitment-driven countries in matters of net-zero emissions. As a country, the goal is to become carbon neutral by 2050 and for that purpose, Canada has introduced several programs and policies to encourage construction companies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions. As part of a 2023-2024 Department Plan, the Canadian government listed promoting net-zero emissions in the construction industry as one of their priorities. The plan highlights the importance of implementing concrete measures to achieve this goal and help fight climate change.

The Canadian Government’s Carbon Neutral Initiatives

During the Americana 2023 environmental forum, the Government of Canada pledged its support to the province of Quebec in regard to its carbon-neutral transition. This announcement confirms the government’s willingness to actively support initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the construction industry. Financially assisting carbon-neutral construction and renovation building projects is a vital component of this assistance, which allows companies and individuals to implement sustainable technologies and practices.

Further assistance may also be sought to reduce carbon emissions resulting from renovation work. In fact, some older buildings may have significant pollution issues requiring hefty renovations, if not demolition altogether. 

Decarbonated Construction: An Industry Priority

net-zero emissions

Source: Canva

The construction industry has come to recognize the importance of net-zero emissions. Builders and architects alike must turn to environmentally friendly materials, such as wood or recycled materials, as well as consider alternative, more sustainable and energy-efficient construction methods. 

Here are some of the planned vital measures:

Shifting Toward Renewable Energy

The construction industry is set to invest in renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, to supply buildings with clean energy.

Improving Building Energy Efficiency

The province of Quebec is committed to improving construction standards in matters of energy efficiency and promoting low-energy building design and construction. This includes:

  • insulation;

  • windows with a high energy rating;

  • heat recovery;

  • etc.

Using Sustainable Building Materials

The construction industry will turn to eco-friendly building materials, such as wood gathered from sustainably managed forests, thus reducing the use of carbon-intensive materials like cement. 

Working with Innovative Technologies and Practices

The industry is set to endorse innovative construction technologies and practices for the purpose of reducing carbon emissions, like using geothermal heating and cooling systems, automating building energy efficiency, etc. 

Training and Raising Awareness

Raising awareness and training the main construction industry players on the following:

  • climate change issues;

  • net-zero emissions and;

  • the best carbon-reducing practices.

Collaborating and Partnerships

The construction industry, in collaboration with the government, environmental organizations, and others involved, will develop joint strategies to achieve net-zero emissions. This will include:

  • promoting sustainable solution research and development;

  • developing suitable policies and regulations.

These joint measures will allow the construction industry in Quebec to progress toward net-zero emissions while still meeting society’s construction needs.

Carbon Neutral Challenges in the Construction Industry

net-zero emissions

Source: Canva

In Quebec, carbon-neutral construction faces a lot of hurdles:

Current Construction Pratices

The construction industry in Quebec is still very much governed by traditional building methods that significantly affect the environment. The building materials used, like concrete and steel, aren’t incredibly sustainable and emit a significant amount of greenhouse gasses during their manufacturing processes. Therefore, to reduce GHG emissions, building practices must be reevaluated.

Sustainable Building Materials Available

In Quebec, sustainable building materials, such as engineered wood, are still not commonly used in the construction industry. Given that fact, promoting the use of such materials to reduce a building’s carbon footprint is unavoidable. 

Current Energy Efficiency Standards

Although Quebec has strict energy efficiency standards for new constructions, the latter aren’t always sufficient to achieve net-zero emissions. As such, it’s important to reassess and continue to promote these standards to advocate further the need to build energy-efficient structures. 

Lack of Specialized Training 

Construction professionals, such as architects and engineers, must be properly trained in carbon-neutral principles. As such, specialized training programs must be established to broaden the necessary skill set to design and build sustainable structures.

Check out our article about Standards and Training to Further Green Building

Financial Costs

Net-zero carbon construction may involve higher costs compared to more traditional building methods. Therefore, it’s important to find financial resources that can boost investments to develop sustainable solutions, thereby making net-zero emissions further achievable. 

The challenges faced require a comprehensive approach that involves construction industry players, governments, and research agencies. It’s important to find innovative solutions as well as adopt incentive measures to promote net-zero emissions in Quebec’s construction industry.

The Advantages of Net-Zero Carbon Construction

net-zero emissions

Source: Canva

Despite its challenges, the benefits of net-zero emissions in construction are plenty. To name just a few:

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Green building and net-zero emissions significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to the fight against climate change. 

Improves Indoor Air Quality

Net-zero emissions constructions are often equipped with an efficient ventilation system that improves indoor air quality, thereby reducing health hazards for occupants.

Cuts Long Term Energy Costs

Carbon-neutral structures are designed to be energy efficient, which, in turn, means significantly cutting down long-term heating, air conditioning, and electrical costs.

Creates Green Jobs

Transitioning toward carbon-neutral construction requires the expertise and know-how of skilled construction and energy efficiency professionals, thereby creating new job opportunities in renewable energy fields. 

Promotes Innovation

Zero-carbon building often requires the use of innovative technologies and materials, thereby promoting research and development in the field of sustainable construction.

Refines Company Brand Image

Companies that commit to carbon-neutral projects benefit from a more positive environmental and sustainable image, which can attract a more involved and eco-conscious client base.

Respects Regulatory Standards

An increasing amount of environmental standards and regulations are established to promote carbon-neutral construction. By complying, Quebec’s construction industry players avoid potential sanctions and fines. 

In a nutshell, in the province of Quebec, net-zero emission construction has numerous advantages, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to improving the quality of life of occupants, with significant energy savings and job opportunities in the field of renewable energy in between. It also allows companies to bolster their commitment to sustainability as well as comply with continually evolving regulatory standards.

Heading Toward Net-Zero Emissions: A Sustainable Future Courtesy of the Construction Industry

Net-zero construction is a key priority for Canada, which implements measures and initiatives to promote zero-carbon building practices. Despite lingering challenges, net-zero emissions offer numerous long-term advantages for the construction industry. By actively committing to this transition, construction workers and architects contribute to the fight against climate change and work toward building a sustainable future. 

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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