December 8, 2015
by Canadian Architect
The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) commends the provincial government on the release of its Climate Strategy on November 24, which outlines a strong commitment to building energy efficient, climate-resilient structures.
The buildings sector represents about 19% of the province’s total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the third-largest emitting sector in Ontario. As such, it will play a prominent role in the government’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and as the leading authority, architects will have a critical role to play as Ontario moves forward with creating a low-carbon economy. Highlights of the high-level document included:
· Integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations into government decision-making and infrastructure planning;
· Introducing changes to government operations, including building retrofits, to help the move towards carbon neutrality;
· Developing a coordinated approach to reduce emissions from new and existing buildings; and
· Supporting the transition to net-zero buildings across the province through updates to Ontario’s Building Code, incentive programs, removal of regulatory barriers, and encouraging the transition to lower carbon fuels and to building materials that store carbon.
The Climate Strategy also re-affirmed its GHG emission reduction targets of 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% by 2030, and 80% below by 2050. By 2030, Ontario envisions having begun to construct the framework to minimize energy use and to use renewable energy in buildings. The OAA is also encouraged by the Ministry of Energy’s announcement that they are working on a plan for mandatory home energy audits.
Given its strong involvement in focusing on energy efficiency in the sector, the OAA is encouraged by the government’s ambitious goals and are well-positioned to be a key partner in creating resilient structures that will help communities cope with and withstand the impacts of climate change.
The OAA is a signatory to the 2030 Challenge which aggressively aims to reduce energy by 70% today with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. “To demonstrate leadership on this front, we are currently in the midst of updating OAA Headquarters with a focus on achieving the aims of the 2030 Challenge”, says Toon Dreessen, OAA President.
The OAA was also a founding sponsor of the Toronto 2030 District, an initiative aimed at reducing building energy use by 50% across the all buildings in the city.
The government is expected to release its detailed five-year Climate Change Action Plan in early 2016, which will focus on how to achieve Ontario’s 2020 target and begin to lay out the vision for meeting subsequent targets. As leaders in the built form, the OAA and the province’s architects applaud the commitment to creating sustainable buildings and look forward to supporting the government’s efforts at every step of the way on this important initiative.