Much smaller carbon footprint for Canadian homes, businesses by 2050: NEB, IEA

Harsh winters and hot summers boost the carbon footprint of buildings in Canada.

carbon footprint
Currently available technology, including heat pumps, could significantly cut down the carbon footprint of Canadian homes and businesses.

A new joint report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the National Energy Board (NEB) shows that CO2emissions from Canadian buildings could be 80 per cent lower by 2050, with major energy intensity improvements and shifts away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

The report, Heating and cooling strategies in the clean energy transition, uses known technology solutions in a Clean Technology Scenario to explore the impact of reducing Canada’s building carbon footprint over the next 30 years.

“There are significant opportunities to lower energy usage and emissions through greater reliance on existing technologies in Canada’s buildings including homes and businesses,” said Jean-Denis Charlebois, Chief Economist, National Energy Board.

He added “The joint IEA/NEB report presents a scenario where major progress could be made by 2050.”

According to the NEB, a major share of Canada’s energy demand comes from buildings.  Canada’s climate landscape has a big influence on energy used for heating and cooling, which combined account for about 65 per cent of energy consumption in buildings across the country.

By using technology available today, energy demand for buildings in Canada could be cut by as much as 35 per cent by 2050, relative to 2018, without reducing building energy services.

The report says that high-performance new construction and energy renovations of existing buildings could result in a 65 per cent improvement in lowering the average space heating intensity of Canada’s buildings by 2050.

In the Clean Technology Scenario, the mix of fuel and building energy technology in 2050 is considerably different from today and regional distinctions are taken into account.

Electricity continues to dominate in provinces with large hydroelectric infrastructure like Manitoba and Quebec, but 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.

The report notes that capital spending for building improvements in the Clean Technology Scenario would correspond to an extra four to five billion dollars 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.





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