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Canadian homes, business buildings could be 80% greener by 2050

With climate change such an enormous challenge globally there are some major changes needed to avoid the worst effects.

And one of the biggest is tackling the amount of carbon that our homes and commercial buildings are responsible for as consumers of around a quarter of total energy consumption in the country, mostly from heating and cooling.

Now a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the National Energy Board (NEB) says that we can cut the amount of CO2 emissions from Canadian buildings by 80% by 2050.

But that will mean major energy intensity improvements and shifts away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

"There are significant opportunities to lower energy usage and emissions through greater reliance on existing technologies in Canada's buildings including homes and businesses. The joint IEA/NEB report presents a scenario where major progress could be made by 2050," said Jean-Denis Charlebois, Chief Economist, National Energy Board.

Buildings of the future

Although under the Clean Energy Scenario set out in the report still has electricity dominating in provinces with large hydroelectric infrastructure like Manitoba and Quebec, changes could include electric resistance heating being replaced with more efficient electric heat pumps.

Use of modern biomass technology rises for heating in Quebec, Atlantic provinces, and the prairies. While in Western Canada and Ontario, natural gas will continue to be used with steady shifts taking place to more efficient equipment such as gas thermal, hybrid and electric heat pumps.

By 2050, high-performance zero-energy-ready buildings will become the market standard, while all other construction moves to today's best practice.

Cost and savings

The report notes that capital spending for building improvements in the Clean Technology Scenario would correspond to an extra four to five billion dollars (CDN) annually to deploy low-carbon and energy efficient technology solutions for buildings; however, annual savings could reach as much as 24 billion CDN in 2050.

by Steve Randall

30 May 2019


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