In Canada, buildings are the third largest contributor to emissions. Residential, commercial and administrative buildings currently account for 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This figure jumps to nearly 30% when you include emissions from building materials and construction.
Building emissions can be categorised as Scope 1 (direct, i.e. from heating or generators) or Scope 2 (indirect i.e., from electricity consumption). Reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions can significantly decrease a building’s carbon footprint and doesn’t necessarily require expensive and complex solutions.
Working with what you have
- Sealing Air Leaks. Air leaks can represent 25% to 40% of the total heat loss in buildings. Proper sealing helps prevent heat loss and reduces the energy needed to heat or cool the building and can be achieved through weatherstripping, caulking, or using air sealing materials.
- Improve Heating Efficiency. Heating can account for up to 29% of your utility bill, consuming more energy and money than any other system in a building. Luckily, there are ways to manually improve this:
- Lower the setpoint of your thermostat outside of office hours
- Clean or replace filters on furnaces monthly
- Ensure heaters and radiators are clean and never blocked
- Seasonally eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators
- Keep blinds open during the day to allow the sun to warm your building, and close them in the evening to reduce the incoming chill
- Optimise Ventilation. Inefficient ventilation can lead to increased energy use and contribute to poor indoor air quality. By improving ventilation, you can not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also create a healthier environment for employees.
- Windows. Inefficient windows can allow up to 25% of energy to escape a building. Energy-efficient windows are made with materials that reduce heat exchange and air leaks through the use of double-and triple-paned glass, saving up to 20% of energy.
- Lighting. Replacing traditional incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs with LED lights can result in significant savings. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, LED lighting uses up to 90% less energy, lasts 25x longer, and saves up to $100 on energy bills over a single bulb’s lifetime. Compared to fluorescent bulbs, LED lights are up to 80% more efficient, using far less power at a lower wattage to produce a strong output of light.
- Heating and Cooling. Swapping traditional heating systems for more sustainable options like reversible heat pumps is another energy-efficient and cost-competitive option that can meet both heating and cooling needs in buildings. This solution can transfer up to three times more energy than it consumes, making it a great sustainable swap.
- Solar Panels. With all the savings achieved from the above initiatives, you might want to reinvest into bigger projects. Adding solar panels is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and save on electricity costs. They enable businesses to generate clean energy and even sell excess power back to the grid as energy credits. Additionally, the Canadian government offers incentives and rebates for those who switch to solar, making it even more of a financially smart move.
By implementing these simple strategies, building owners can significantly reduce carbon emissions while also saving money on energy bills. These efforts can help mitigate the impact of buildings on the environment, creating a more sustainable future for all.
Sustainability Leadership helps businesses achieve their sustainability goals through the Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP). Our growing resource of whitepapers also shares the science and economic influence behind sustainability so you can better understand why investing in sustainable best practices will benefit your business.
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