Clean Energy Economy and Retrofitting Buildings

We continue the focus started last week on careers in a green (clean) economy.

A report by the Conference Board of Canada starts its analysis of Canada’s prospects in a clean energy economy by asking first, “What is a clean energy growth economy and how do we measure it?”

Answer: “We define a clean energy growth economy as one that will sustain our environment, create wealth, and enhance our standard of living. Getting there will require a long-term transformation of all aspects of life in Canada, and a clear and actionable road map to get us there.”

Document Highlights from this 16-page brief include:

  • “Guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, we focus on three key themes and a set of strategic goals to measure progress: economy, environment, and society.”
  • “We have developed a sustainability framework to track key indicators. An energy-system lens is applied to this framework (i.e., we include the entire energy supply chain), given energy’s ubiquity, its role in GHG emissions levels, and the potential disruptive impacts of climate change.”
  • “These indicators provide an energy-system perspective on sustainability in Canada that can be viewed historically, for the most current period, and for the coming decades.”

The full brief, “Measuring What Matters: An Energy-System Perspective on Sustainability, (2020)” can be accessed here, offering further context to our blog posts on career prospects in a green (clean) economy:  

More recently, the Conference Board of Canada issued, “The Path Forward: Job Transitions in Canada (2021),” with this very positive assessment for job hunters planning a career shift:

Most Canadians who want to make a career transition have viable and desirable options, especially if they possess, or are willing to learn, the skills, abilities, tools, and technologies required for their destination occupation.”

The 19-page impact paper includes charts that provide at-a-glance overviews of which jobs are well-positioned to support transitions, and which job categories may not have viable or desirable transition options.

It notes that in terms of skills, “…the top 10 jobs with the most transitions typically require high proficiency in active listening and critical thinking.”

“An emphasis on speaking, reading comprehension, monitoring, judgement, and decision-making are also a key part of the essential skills base for eight of the top 10 jobs. Other research by The Conference Board of Canada similarly finds that social and emotional skills are becoming more important as labourmarket demand for knowledge workers grows.”

Other findings include, “Sales and service occupations have greater ability to move between different types of roles,” whereas some “Highly paid jobs and those with unique skills sets may have no transitions.” Among the jobs categorized in the latter group and listed in Table 3 are, for example, actors and comedians, judges, athletes, dentists, real estate agents, lawyers, optometrists.

Examples of the kinds of jobs with more transition options are, landscape and horticulture technicians and specialists, managers in social, community and correctional services, other wood products assemblers and inspectors, recreation, sports and fitness policy researchers, assistants and program officers.

To learn more, the full impact paper may be accessed at:

Transitions to a Low Carbon Future

This Conference Board of Canada paper makes the case for a “National Energy System Strategy”.

“Canada is an energy bank. We need to treat it like one. We require an energy system strategy that would allow Canada to lead (not follow) market opportunities and leverage our capital to transition to a low carbon future. An energy system strategy will allow us to better monitor and achieve our transition.”

“Energy is more than developing energy products like oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, biofuel, hydrogen, wood, coal, and geothermal. Energy is also about users. Transportation, housing, businesses, affordability, urban and rural centres, and financial markets all contribute to consumption. Combined, producers and consumers make up Canada’s energy system, and it is undergoing a dramatic evolution, often in a discordant way.

“The Canadian Energy Strategy of 2015 is not up to date with the times and is in need of a reset…..”

“The Centre for a Clean Energy Growth Economy (CEGE) at the Conference Board of Canada has created an interactive dashboard monitoring the energy system’s progress towards achieving a clean energy growth economy. By aggregating findings from 14 indicators we define how far the energy system has progressed across three themes of economy, environment, and society. Each theme and indicator can be filtered between producers and consumers, and by reference period.”

The good news is Canada is moving in the right direction. We have experienced an average 18 per cent improvement across the indicators since 2010. Pricing carbon emissions, adopting tough regulation and investing in innovative technology have all helped drive sustainable outcomes. Weak economic performance for energy producers, while slowing their overall transition, has not stopped their contribution to improvement.”

“Indicators tracking value add, investments in capacity, global reach, operating environment, and growth prospects comprise our economic performance theme. Since 2010, in aggregate, this theme has seen an improvement of 31 per cent despite challenges in the energy sector. GHG emissions and economic value add are decoupling rather than marching in tandem. As technology and environmental practices improve, firms are increasing output and decreasing associated emissions and impacts. Sustaining this trend is essential to achieving balanced, inclusive growth.

To learn more on why and how the Conference Board of Canada is calling for such a reset of the Green Energy Strategy, access the full report, “The Power Behind Transition – A National Energy System Strategy,” :

The Conference Board reports challenge us to see clean energy from a systems perspective, one that includes a wide spectrum of active participants from energy producers through to us as energy consumers, sometimes energy workers, and hopefully, increasingly, citizens as energy conservers in how we lead our daily lives whether making choices about transportation to work, where to live, how to renovate and retrofit our work and/or living spaces, and more.

Green Retrofitters

Last week’s Blog post included the good news piece from TED Countdown on expanding job opportunities in the Green (Clean) Economy. One of the growth jobs identified was that of the Green Retrofitter.

We wanted to dig a little deeper to learn more about what that looks like in action presently, here in Canada, and in the U.K., where it is seemingly more well-established, propelled by government policy.

Starting with the U.K., here’s what we found from TrustMark, a key player in the area of “Whole House Retrofit”.

“Under the Climate Change Act 2008 the UK needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.”

“To meet the UK’s government climate change targets, we must retrofit all homes to an EPC band C standard by 2035. Therefore, one of the key considerations for any homeowner is; How energy efficient is my home?” Housing efficiency is one of the major ways to reduce carbon and give us the best possible chance of meeting targets to help us reduce fuel poverty and make healthier homes. We are working with the government and industry through new legislation and standards in order that quality improvements are made to UK housing stock. Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) is the government’s programme to make UK homes more energy-efficient and is focused exclusively on these households with low incomes or living in fuel poverty.” (TrustMark:

U.K.’s TrustMark

TrustMark explains its role in meeting the U.K. government’s commitment to a zero carbon world:

“Encouraging and enabling households to improve the energy efficiency of their home will not only stand them in good stead if they decide to sell their house but is essential if we are going to meet the UK Government’s target to be zero carbon.”

“To achieve energy efficient homes across the UK, we must retrofit existing properties. TrustMark, the Government Endorsed Quality Scheme, is at the forefront of new legislation to enable the delivery of retrofit for energy improvements to UK homes. Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) is the government’s programme to make UK homes more energy efficient and is focused exclusively on those households with low incomes or living in fuel poverty. In total, 6.5 households are eligible. The most common energy efficiency measures available through ECO include loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation and boiler replacement or repair.”

“…ECO3 is designed to improve quality standards across the energy sector and give consumers higher level of confidence and protection when having work carried out in and around their home.”

“ECO3 requires that tradespeople completing the energy efficiency improvements must be registered with TrustMark and all work must be lodged in the TrustMark Data Warehouse.”


Whole House Retrofit

“Whole House Retrofit is a complete approach to making homes more energy-efficient, focusing on the fabric of the house first including the walls, roof, floors, windows and doors, to strategies for ventilation, heating efficiency and cooling in the summer months.”

By considering the whole house, these improvements will start a journey to healthier and more comfortable homes. Approximately 24 million homes across the UK need retrofitting, made low carbon, low-energy and help address climate change.”

“Possible Renovations include, but are not limited to:

  • Insulation
  • Airtightness 
  • Ventilation
  • Heating and cooling systems 
  • Renewable technologies
  • Water heating systems
  • Efficient lighting 
  • Energy monitoring systems 
  • Using locally generated power that uses zero-carbon technologies”


Green Retrofitters

“Green retrofitters might be experienced contractors, or qualified independent professionals. In the UK, such qualified professionals are known as retrofit coordinators and are architects, building asset managers, building services engineers, building surveyors, construction managers, energy assessors and consultants or site supervisors — all with extra training.”  (TrustMark:

U.K. Training

At the Retrofit Academy site we learned about training for Retrofit Coordinator role, which will be important for standards and compliance for approved projects under TrustMark:

“The role of Retrofit Coordinator is pivotal to the industry delivering the UK’s 2050 carbon neutral obligations. We offer online, blended and expert-led in-house courses to suit your budget and schedule. We work closely with key organisations to help transform the industry.”

“The ECO industry will have to adopt PAS 2035 shortly – at present the transition period runs to 31st July 2021. Any company wanting to deliver projects under the TrustMark, the recognised Quality Mark for the industry, will have to adopt a PAS 2035-compliant approach. A Retrofit Coordinator is a mandatory professional role on all projects under the PAS, responsible for compliance and project management from cradle to grave. As such, Retrofit Coordinators must come from suitable built environment backgrounds, must hold the ‘Level 5 Diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management’ certification and then be a member of a TrustMark approved Retrofit Coordinator Accreditation Scheme.” (

Urban Climate Action in Canada

The U.K.’s scale of housing retrofitting is impressive indeed.

We wondered about Canada.

Catherine was pleasantly surprised to learn about a well-established agency – TAF – that positions the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area well to become carbon neutral by 2050, including initiatives that focus on retrofitting buildings as a key component of moving to low-carbon scenarios here in Canada.

We learned that TAF was created by the City of Toronto Council in 1991 “to finance local initiatives to combat climate change and improve air quality in Toronto”  (now there’s a positive example of forward thinking!).

According to information on its website, it is a registered non-profit corporation with a Board of Directors made up of city councellors and citizens. It is funded by endowments ($17 million from Ontario in 2016 and $40 million from the Government of Canada in 2019) and draws no funds from City, Provincial or Federal tax bases. ( :


We’re helping the GTHA become carbon neutral by 2050

“We’re a regional climate agency that invests in low-carbon solutions for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and helps scale them up for broad implementation. We are experienced leaders and collaborate with stakeholders in the private, public and non-profit sectors who have ideas and opportunities for reducing carbon emissions. We advance the most promising concepts by investing, providing grants, influencing policies and running programs. We’re particularly interested in ideas that offer benefits beyond carbon reduction such as improving people’s health, creating new green jobs, boosting urban resiliency, and contributing to a fair society.”

Scaling low-carbon solutions

“For the GTHA to be carbon neutral by 2050, much needs to be done, and quickly. TAF is focused on enabling the acceleration and scale-up of low-carbon solutions so that we reach that goal.” ( :

Canada’s Climate Plan and TAF

Julie Leach writes this for TAF:

“Canada’s new climate plan is historic because it is the first to follow the science and chart a clear path to the 2030 target.  A high and rising price on carbon is the cornerstone of the plan, sending a strong and predictable market signal that will drive investment in climate solutions.”

“We’re picking up what the government is laying down, and we’re ready to support the work and address the gaps. Here is our breakdown and analysis of the best opportunities for two of the biggest emitters:


“13% of Canada’s carbon emissions come just from the fossil gas used to heat buildings (add 9% from electricity). The government has got the message: We need to retrofit all of Canada’s buildings, and doing so has many benefits.”

  • “The carbon price per tonne will increase $15 per year up to $170 by 2030. This will double the consumer cost of natural gas, which immediately improves the business case for building retrofits. The plan protects affordability by rebating Canadians on a quarterly basis.”
  • “$6.1 billion in total funding (including previously announced Canada Infrastructure Bank funding) will provide a boost for the retrofit market, help to attract private capital, develop the workforce needed, and make retrofits more affordable for home and commercial building owners.”
  • “Vital new standards and targets for reducing fugitive methane will reduce significant emissions from the full life cycle of natural gas (fossil gas).”


“26% of Canada’s emissions come from transportation and the zero-emissions vehicle market is an opportunity for Canada’s resource and industrial sectors.”

  • “The Clean Fuel Standard (the liquid stream focused on gasoline and diesel for vehicles) is on track for implementation. This regulation will reduce about 20 megatonnes of carbon a year by 2030”
  • “$1.5 billion is committed to fund the production and use of low-carbon fuels, including hydrogen. This will support cleantech innovation in both the building and transportation sectors”
  • “$1.5 billion in financing for zero-emission transit and school buses will help cities reach their targets for transportation”
  • “Incentives to spur the electric vehicle market and make them more affordable”

Advancing the climate agenda in the GTHA

“The big federal climate plan is here, just as TAF is setting up for our own ambitious 2021. Our sights are set on:

  • Partnering with housing providers to initiate deep retrofits in 3,000 housing units this year, mobilizing $150 million in investment to leverage public funding and attract more capital into low-carbon activity
  • Supporting municipalities to adopt green development standards for new buildings and performance standards for existing ones
  • Providing grants and investment capital to enable even more low-carbon activity like workforce development (clean jobs!), and EV charger installations
  • Publishing new research on growing challenges like fugitive methane emissions and embodied carbon in new construction
  • Addressing the gaps”

A backdrop for success

“At the close of an unpredictable year, you can count on TAF to stay the course, follow the carbon, and focus on action. For the first time we have a federal climate plan before us with many key pieces in place. The transition from fossil fuels has a role for everyone to play, including cities and provinces, industry, and the wider community.”

3000 deep housing retrofits in the GTHA – that’s positive action toward a low carbon future and one tangible source for job growth in the green economy locally in Ontario. ( :

Job Ads

We looked for further signs of actual job opportunities in the Green Economy. Using the search term “green retrofit jobs,” on for example, we found job listings for a Green Infrastructure Project Manager, a Green Building Climate Fellowship, and a Green Buildings Senior Energy Engineer.

Canada – Green Building Council

We learned there is a Green Building Council in Canada.


Lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada


A transformed built environment leading to a sustainable future

The Council will work to:

  • change industry standards,
  • develop best design practices and guidelines,
  • advocate for green buildings, and
  • develop educational tools to support its members in implementing sustainable design and construction practices.

Green Building Council Canada (CaGBC) –

From its website we learned that it is in the standards setting business, perhaps along the lines of the U.K.’s TrustMark?

“CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard is the new measure of green building innovation.”

“Carbon emissions represent the true climatic impact of buildings. Only by focusing on emissions during design, and assessing emissions once in operation, can we ensure the low-carbon outcomes Canada needs.”

“The ZCB Standard provides pathways for both new and existing buildings to reach zero carbon, and certification offers recognition for industry leaders. With ZCB Standard v2, focus is on the carbon balance of a building across its life-cycle, including construction and operation. It is applicable to all buildings except homes and small multi-family residential buildings.” (CaGBC – )

To learn more about the ZCB Standard for Design (46 pages) :

To learn more about the ZCB Standard for Performance (40 pages) :

The Council is also involved in promoting and implementing LEED

“LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types.”

“In Canada and around the world, LEED is a proven and holistic path to addressing climate change, and to creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy and resilient. Continuous improvement is a hallmark of LEED, as it constantly improves ahead of evolving government policy.”


“Buildings generate nearly 30 per cent of all greenhouse gases, 35 per cent of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition activities, and up to 70 per cent of municipal water is consumed in and around buildings. It’s clear that buildings can have a substantial impact on Canada’s environmental goals.”

“Since 2005 LEED Canada has led to:

Energy savings
“Energy savings of 20.7 million eMWh which is enough to power 700,000 homes in Canada for a full year.”

Water savings
“Water savings totalling over 37 billion litres, enough to fill almost 15,000 Olympic swimming pools.”

“Recycling over 3.82 million tonnes of construction/ demolition waste, which is enough to fill the entire Roger’s Centre in Toronto 15 times.”

GHG reduction
“A 4.04 million CO2e tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions which equates to taking 860,000 cars off the roads for a year.”

Green roofs
390,000 sq. metres of green roofs, enough to cover 257 hockey arenas..” (

The Ca-GBC Resources are extensive, including a database of LEEDS Projects, and Green Building case studies to promote further learning and innovation, including for example, case studies for King Street Elementary Schools (N.B.), ManuLife LEEDS Gold, AmPED Sports Lab and Ice Complex (Ottawa) and evolv1 (Canada’s first ZCB-Design certified project to now achieve dual ZCB certification), accessible at:

The Education Services tab lists training opportunities to support companies in up-skilling their workforce to transition to a new low-carbon, retrofit economy, including customized training and access to experts. (Education Services:

Building an Ontario Green Jobs Strategy

This 2017 report was issued by the Environmental Defense, Blue Green Canada, and Clean Economy Alliance — “Building An Ontario Green Jobs Strategy looks at the job creation opportunities that will arise from retrofitting Ontario’s buildings and making them more energy efficient. It offers a series of recommendations to the province to ensure it creates good jobs and career opportunities for people who face employment barriers or are otherwise disadvantaged and need these jobs the most. ”

We will be looking with a close eye to Ontario’s budget, tabled March 24, 2021, and Canada’s forthcoming budget on April 19, 2021, for signs of investments in a Green (Clean) Economy.

Education and Training in Canada for Green Building

For anyone curious about what it might take to transition to a green building job, here is an example of a diploma program related to Green Building and Retrofitting currently on offer in Canada by Humber College (Ontario):

Sustainable Energy and Building Technology – Advanced Diploma (Humber College)

Length: 6 semesters starting in September

“Sustainability is one of the most important issues facing the building, energy and infrastructure sectors today, and individuals with the skills to design, implement and support renewable energy technologies are in high demand. Emerging opportunities for employment in this growing industry include:

  • building automation technician
  • business operator/entrepreneur
  • energy auditor/analyst/modeler
  • government energy policy analyst
  • project manager, energy performance
  • sustainable building analyst
  • sustainable building technologist
  • sustainable energy project manager”

“Our unique program prepares graduates to understand, improve and manage energy use and building resilience in new and existing structures, helping the renewable energy sector modernize the way we construct and live in our built environments. Students have the unique advantage to learn in our Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Centre for Urban Ecology.”

“This program offers a co-op option. Co-op work terms enable you to apply your skills and knowledge in a work environment and gain valuable, practical experience related to your program of study. You will learn new skills, learn about the world of work and meet people in your profession.”

“For students who are accepted into the program, three co-op work terms will take place. Two four-month work terms occur consecutively after four semesters of study, and the third work term occurs between Semesters 5 and 6. There are limited spaces in the co-op option, therefore, during Semester 3, you will be provided information about the application process and will be able to apply to the co-op stream at that time. While co-op work opportunities are not guaranteed, as students are in a competitive job placement market, participating students will receive a wide range of services to help them find a co-op opportunity.”

Canada’s Green Building Engine

Last word on the projected opportunities for this exciting sector goes to the Green Building Council of Canada (Ca-GBC) in its latest market report – “Canada’s Green Building Engine” (2020) :

“Green buildings create transformative change IN our cities and communities. They increase health and wellbeing, lower energy demands and emissions, and are a significant engine for job creation and GDP.”

“In 2018, the green building industry boasted 462,150 jobs – a 55 per cent increase over 2014. Over the same period, green building’s contribution to Canada’s GDP grew from $23.4 billion to approximately $47.9 billion.”

“These insights come from our latest market report, Canada’s Green Building Engine, which shows the transformation of green building industry into a mature sector of the Canadian economy, now generating more jobs than oil and gas extraction, mining, and forestry combined.”

“What’s driving green building growth?”

“Climate Change, Circular Economy, Healthy Inclusive Buildings, Retrofits,”

“Embodied Carbon, Smart Buildings, Energy Storage, Sustainable Materials”

Canada’s Green Building Engine captures the growth of the green building industry across Canada and by province and territory. It also looks ahead with sophisticated modelling to predict what the industry could look like in 2030. These models also weigh the COVID-19 pandemic – and the coming economic stimulus governments are planning to reignite Canada’s economy.”

“The “Climate Forward” scenario presents the outcome of a green recovery plan that prioritizes green building and progressive policies. Under the climate forward plan, Canada’s green building industry would flourish, with 1.5 million direct green building jobs and $150 billion in GDP by 2030.

To access the 12 page executive summary –

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