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3.2.1Support the adoption of highly efficient building envelope designs, hyper efficient mechanical systems, and onsite renewable energy options for new buildings


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The building industry must transition toward constructing new buildings to generate no net emissions during its operation. This will involve making buildings air-tight, insulated to high standards, reliant on electrified space and water heating and other highly efficient mechanical systems, and capable of generating on-site renewable energy. Ideally, a building’s total annual energy use will be reduced to the point that it can be offset by the total annual output of its on-site renewable energy generation: it will be net zero carbon.

Outreach to developers and other industry professionals with information on best practices and other supports will be needed, and can be implemented quickly.

This action will be led by WR Community Energy with support from Sustainable Waterloo Region.


WR Community Energy is currently leading a study on region-wide Green Development Standards for new building construction in partnership with the Region of Waterloo and area municipal planning & building services departments. As referenced in the WRCE 2022 Progress Report, Green Development Standards (GDS) are a critical policy tool for municipalities to ensure our new buildings are future-ready and meet our community needs. In 2021, WRCE worked collaboratively on a region-wide GDS in two phases. Phase 1, completed in fall 2022, focused on educating the broader municipal and utility partners on GDS. The objective was to understand and measure our level of ambition for these standards.

In the spring of 2023, Councils in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge as well as the Region of Waterloo endorsed proceeding with initiating a work plan to initiate consultation and research to prepare a harmonized standard including the townships starting later this year.


Sustainable Waterloo Region hosts over a dozen in-person and online events yearly, bringing the sustainable community together to network, learn, share experiences, and collaborate. Many of these events include discussions around building envelopes, upgrades that could or have been made by members, and what positive environmental and business impacts have come as a result. Since Sustainable Waterloo Region's office is located at evolv1, Canada’s first Zero Carbon building, there are frequent tours of the facility to educate members, other organizations, and individuals. During these tours, evolv1’s highly efficient building envelope design, hyper-efficient mechanical systems, and on-site renewable energy are showcased.

Sustainable Waterloo Region offers many resources to its members which include benefits and the importance of incorporating green policies, and incentivizing sustainable actions. Additionally, their services provide organizations with access to a carbon accounting tool. For more information on the Impact Network program and how your organization can join, please check out the Impact Network webpage.