Green Buildings drive economic growth in Canada, study shows
February 12, 2016 by On-Site Magazine
The green building sector drove $23.45 billion in GDP representing 297,890 jobs in 2014, according to a new study released this week by the Canada Green Building Council.
The report, Green Building in Canada: Assessing the Market Impacts and Opportunities, details the wide impact the sector has had on the Canadian economy for the past decade. It notes job creation alone in 2014 exceeded that of Canada’s oil and gas extraction, mining and forestry industries combined.
Canada is a global leader in green building with the highest number of LEED buildings per capita in the world. The report finds, when indirect and induced contributions are included, the overall economic impact of Canada’s LEED projects certified from 2005 – 2015 will lead to $128 billion in gross output over their lifetime, $62.3 billion in total GDP, and create 701,700 jobs.
“This report showcases the impressive market transformation that is underway across the country in the green building and sustainability industries,” says Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of CaGBC.
“By quantifying the significant economic value and growth of green building and LEED certification in Canada, we are demonstrating that green building is not just good for the environment, but it is also good for the economy.
“It is clear that Canada’s current economy would benefit from increased investment in green building and sustainable infrastructure. We believe that a national, cross-sector strategy, led by industry and supported by all levels of government, could help further accelerate the market transition toward an economy that benefits from reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Designed to support accelerated market transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings and communities in Canada, the report provides an overview of the current status of activities in Canada’s green building industry.
The report, sponsored by Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) highlights many significant impacts and findings including:
- Ontario and British Columbia have more green building jobs as a percent of their total labour force than any other areas of the country in 2014 – equal to 2.1 and 1.6 per cent respectively, due in part to greater market leadership, progressive building code requirements, provincial and municipal green building policies.
- Companies active in the Construction and Trades segment accounted for the largest percentage (55 per cent) of green building employment and GDP in Canada, equal to approximately 164,445 jobs (approximately 13 per cent of Canada’s total construction work force) and $13.13 billion dollars in GDP.
- The market penetration of LEED certified buildings in Canada has been growing over the last decade, from 0.8 per cent across all asset classes for the period of 2004-2009, reaching 10.7 per cent for all new construction floor space (for the period of 2009 to 2014). Leading the way, 22 per cent of all new commercial buildings, and approximately 30 per cent of all new institutional buildings constructed in Canada over the last five years were LEED certified.
The Green Building in Canada report also makes a number of suggestions as to how to accelerate industry growth and maximize economic opportunities. Expansion in these areas will positively impact jobs and the economy, along with providing significant environmental, health and societal benefits.
- Investing in Research and Innovation. The construction sector in Canada ranks at the bottom of all industries in terms of its expenditures in research and development (R&D). Greater federal and provincial government support for green building on the research and innovation agenda would help, with both economic and export development.
- Addressing the Gap between Building Design and Performance. Benchmarking, reporting and disclosure, along with greater standardization of modeling building performance in Canada, would result in buildings with better end-use performance and enhanced environmental and business benefits.
- Supporting Industry Training and Continuing Education. Green building requires professional expertise and a better trained workforce. Investing in education and training, as well as the policy, regulatory, and incentive frameworks to support skills development and ongoing learning will be essential to industry growth.
- Developing Supportive Policy and Incentives. Closing the gap between the market leaders who have embraced green building and the bulk of the building industry, through a range of incentive and financing options, progressive policies and changes to building codes, is the key to long-term market transformation.
“Canada is on the brink of an economic transition and the green building industry will be an important part of that transition,” says Paul Shorthouse, co-author of the report and Regional Director with The Delphi Group. “As the policy landscape shifts and lower-carbon products and services become the norm, green building represents a huge opportunity for Canada. We are hopeful that the report findings spur more interest in and greater support for the sector as we look to diversify Canada’s economy and tap into the talent and expertise we have in this country.”
The report was generated through extensive secondary research and literature review, 35 industry stakeholder interviews, and economic impact assessments quantifying GDP, job and industry strengths and capabilities. The full 94-page Green Building in Canada report is available to members through the CaGBC. The Executive Summary is free to the public.