The term decarbonization is gaining increasing attention throughout the built environment. Decarbonization involves significantly reducing the carbon footprint of buildings, which is crucial considering that 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the built environment.
Understanding the Challenges of Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization & Energy Efficiency
Carbon emissions in buildings can be divided into two main categories:
- Operational Carbon: Emissions from the everyday operational life of a building, which includes heating, electricity, and gas generators.
- Embodied Carbon: These emissions are released primarily during construction, accounting for about 85% of a building’s total carbon emissions.
Operational carbon can be categorized into Scope 1 (direct emissions from fossil fuels burned in operations) and Scope 2 (emissions directly related to the building). When discussing decarbonization projects we observe operational carbon.
It is important to distinguish the difference between energy efficiency and decarbonization. They are often mentioned together. Energy efficiency is about optimizing electricity use, whereas decarbonization involves removing elements that contribute to a building’s carbon emissions, such as replacing gas-powered generators with electric ones. Although interconnected, they are distinct goals.
Energy Efficiency Challenges & Benefits
Energy efficiency projects face two types of challenges. First are the punctual challenges, characterized by a lack of capital investment and internal resistance to change. Secondly, structural challenges are defined by the need for more effective internal communication within business departments. Overcoming these requires a shift in attitude and organizations to explore more opportunities for Collaboration within the industry.
Property owners and asset managers can benefit from energy efficiency projects. These benefits stem from cost optimization, improved cash flow, reduced financing costs, stabilized building values, and more attractive rental prices. As in Europe, the Canadian real estate industry is trending towards a similar climate. In the next decade, buildings that don’t adapt to energy efficiency standards will struggle with renting out space, finding financing, and selling while potentially facing punitive taxes by not adjusting.
A Solution to Decarbonization Success
Canderel’s Road to Net-Zero (RNZ) is a holistic solution to decarbonize the built environment, aiming to bring together a consortium of industry specialists to harmonize decarbonization projects without looking to create another technical solution but a cohesive and synergized approach to decarbonization.
The key to successful decarbonization lies in collaboration, timing, leadership, and constant monitoring and improvement. Projects need a leader and guardian to set objectives and maintain accountability while keeping teams motivated and aligned. Property owners and managers must understand the lifecycles of their building equipment and align capital expenditures with decarbonization plans and goals. These will be crucial in ensuring the financial feasibility of a decarbonization project. Additionally, an aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency through constant monitoring and predictive algorithms can significantly reduce electrical expenses.
Decarbonization in real estate is no longer a trend; it’s essential for the long-term performance of buildings. Moving forward, the siloed approach to decarbonization will no longer be practical. Collaboration, strategic planning, and innovative financing will be essential to the success of these projects, leading to a more sustainable and transparent future.
Click the link to learn more about Canderel is harmonizing decarbonization projects in the built environment: Learn more about RNZ