Jun 7, 2021
From policy to infrastructure to new and old buildings, how can we create cities that improve lives through deep carbon reductions, creating co-benefits for people and the planet? Thomas Mueller, President & CEO at Canada Green Building Council, joins us to share why this is a ‘critical decade’ for the green building market and why green buildings are an actionable solution for helping Canada meet its goals for economic development, job creation, and GHG reductions.
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Dan Seguin 00:02
Hey everyone, welcome back to the ThinkEnergy podcast. As cities struggle with the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, better support green jobs, and hyper competitive real estate markets, they must find new and creative solutions that address short and long term issues. This includes creating a low or zero carbon future, which requires a step by step process to retrofit our existing communities and ensure all future builds are net zero carbon operations by 2050. From policy to infrastructure to new and old buildings. How can we create cities that improve lives through deep carbon reductions, creating co benefits for people and the planet. As of 2018, the green building industry added over 164,000 jobs, which is 55% greater than 2014. Over the same period, Canada's oil and gas extraction, mining and forestry industries stagnated in terms of job growth, they contracted by 2.8% and shed 7580 positions. Canadians have grown conscious of a broader range of social and environmental challenges. This shift and resulting public pressure have in turn spurred policymakers and industry leaders to raise the bar on sustainability, leading to increased government activity and higher standards for both building codes and industry certifications. As a result, green building certification programs are not only growing increasingly stringent, but also broadening in scope. Over the past decade, they have raised the bar on energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability practices. By extension, they have changed the way Canadians design, construct, maintain and operate buildings. A large percentage of Canada's buildings continue to be constructed without green building practices, or third party certification. building codes and municipal bylaws in provinces such as British Columbia are driving market transformation via new construction. So here's today's big question: is the existing building market really the most significant untapped opportunity for economic development, job creation, and GHG reduction in Canada? Our guest today leads the Canada Green Building Council national green building strategy, programs and standards, along with advocacy and policy initiatives. He's also the founding director of the Canada Green Building Council, and became president and CEO of the council in 2005. Dear listeners, please welcome Thomas Meuller. Thomas, you're a well known advocate for green buildings and sustainable community developments. Perhaps you can start by telling us a bit about yourself, What drew you to your current role? And what the Canada Green Building Council does?
Thomas Mueller 04:09
Thank you for inviting me. My name is Thomas Mueller. I'm the president and CEO of an organization called the Canada Green Building Council. And we've been advocating for green building practices since 2005. And, and we are really focusing on changing the practices in the billing industry ever since what really drew me to this to this work was that I, you know, I was inspired at the time and this is a long time ago by our common future, which was the Frampton report, as it was referred to the first mention of sustainable development and didn't take me long to realize that the building sectors, one of the sectors that have there's no other sector in the world has more impact, not just on climate change, but also how we live and our economy than the building sector. So that in the late 1990s, I was drawn to that sector to make changes, the other would help us reduce the environmental impact from that sector.
Dan Seguin 05:26
Now, how can we create cities that improve lives through deep carbon reduction, creating cool benefits for people and the planet? Why should we strive to make every building greener?
Thomas Mueller 05:43
So when you look at the building sector, or in cities, when we and it's getting better now, but when we use to cover climate change in this country, usually, if you watch CBC or CTV, it was always the one standing in front of big chimneys that would kind of admit, what I guess, was carbon emissions was big factories or it was transportation was standard on hot in front of a highway and just, you know, talk about how these two sectors transportation, and factories would just be the main culprit in climate change. The fact is, they're very high emitters. But actually, a building sector in Canada and globally is about 30%. And that includes both the operation of the building, so the heating, cooling, light lighting, but it also includes the embodied materials, so the body carbon materials, so that includes the energy used to make steel, the energy to use make any parts of the building. So it's a significant footprint that a building sector has. And the building sector also employs a lot of people. And we live in those buildings. So it's about the opportunity about carbon reduction. But it's also the opportunity that buildings are made for people. And we want to make sure that we balancing our environmental aspirations that we have a building in the in Canada green building, kind of context, that would help us to also look at how can buildings be good for people, because at the end of the day, that's what we build buildings for, to live, to learn to work. It's this combination of in the building sector, the impact, and the also the impact that buildings have on our lives. And on the environment. It's a combination of that. And so it's a great opportunity to combine those in green buildings, and also the green building sectors, the only one, we talked about climate change, and the other things is that actually has return on investment. And not just from the energy, but you have people in buildings that are more productive, that are healthier, that has a direct impact on his employer, for government, people are healthier, happier, more productive, that has a positive impact all around.
Dan Seguin 08:12
Okay, Thomas, wondering how important is it to balance our carbon reduction ambitions with health considerations, particularly during and after COVID-19? Do we have a clear path to show carbon leadership with healthier indoor environments, that future proof buildings, encourage innovation and drive job growth?
Thomas Mueller 08:36
Yes, we do. So I think we need to there are several questions here there Can we need to pick apart a little bit. One is that we absolutely need to balance our ambitions around carbon reduction, energy efficiency with human health and well being. Because we don't want to go back to the 1970s, where we can over insulate buildings and people get existing in those buildings, right. And just as a human being, I think we want to have access to to light when we work on those buildings to daylighting those buildings, we want to have access to fresh air, we want to have access to an environment that makes us feel healthy and relaxed, because then that's when we do our best, let's say in the working environment, or in a learning environment at school for children. Or when you're at home, you just want to make sure that the air and the light in your building are healthy. And so we want to make sure that how we design our buildings are on carbon because there's one trend where you want to have you know super insulated buildings and don't get me wrong. Energy Efficiency is very important when we get to low carbon non zero carbon buildings. But at the same time, we have to make sure that not only basic human needs are met that we want to enhance those needs in buildings. So we need to design them accordingly. So we need to balance those two. Now COVID has provided an extra kind of layer around how people think about buildings. Because before then I think most people didn't really think too much about, you know, ventilation, when you went to work ventilation or air flow, or those types of things, with COVID has come really into focus. Now that buildings need to be not only safe, but also be healthy. I think it's a great opportunity to rethink how buildings can be, not just from an environmental point of view, but also from a health point of view. The, I think the the final solution, on what, how buildings will operate after the pandemic is over I, after updating has kind of retreated, because I think it will be busy with us for a while, is still out. But definitely what we know is that more fresh air in buildings will be very important. And then there's filtration of that air and there will be humidification of the air and so on. So what the final solution is really depends also, you know, where you are, what kind of building it is, that solution is still out. But it's a great opportunity to look at and say what can buildings be from a health point of view, and not even just because of COVID. But beyond COVID, because we want healthier buildings, but we also want them to be low carbon, we want them to be water efficient, we want them to be materially efficient, we want to recycle. And that's something as the council we have been advocating for the last 20 years through our LEED building rating system is called Leadership in Energy, Environmental Design. We have advocated for that. So what we call that is holistic buildings that are good for the environment, they're good for people, and they're good for the economy, right? And buildings, only sector we can actually materialize that we can actually realize that you can invest in environmental solutions, you can invest in human based solutions, and you can have a return on investment. So in a way, you can eat, you can have your cake. And you can eat it too, when it comes to buildings and and, you know, environment in business in green buildings is the epitome of that where this comes together in a very meaningful and very outcome based way.
Dan Seguin 12:26
How do we accelerate to a netzero economy? How can we create efficiencies to reduce environment at risks?
Thomas Mueller 12:36
Do you think there's the several, I think several factors playing into that and how we can accelerate that is one. First of all, I think we need good government policy. And we see that with the current federal government, they have actually done more on on climate change policy than all the previous governments taken together as far as I'm concerned. And it's finally good to see that we have made not only policy, but there's also investment issues seen in that in the budget, the last budgets come out and announcements before that. There's been a real investment or investments being made in in helping the economy and the Environment and Climate to move towards low and zero carbon. Because I think that the goals are clear, right that the goals are ambitious. But they're not ambitious in Canada, they're ambitious globally. But this government has really made an effort. And that starts with trust before the budget, where minister McKenna announced the I don't know how much money was but it wasn't one point, I think $1.6 billion for underserved communities, smaller and underserved communities in terms of retrofit and new buildings and buildings supposed to be, you know, low or zero carbon was an announcement by the Canada infrastructure bank financing program of $2 billion to finance retrofits in the commercial sector, like large building retrofits. There was announcements in the budget around the workforce development because we can't forget we also need to invest in the workforce so that people are skilled. And we have enough people that actually can kind of renovate or rent retrofit and build those buildings. And then also that investment in Canadian economy, in producers to decarbonize, right. So it's nice to say, you know, you need products that have a lower carbon footprint. But, you know, you've been talking from extraction, to manufacturing, to installation to us to disposal, that's a long lifecycle, and you need to decarbonize the whole product, product supply chain, in order to get there. So we so we have that part. So practice, government, and we also see replicated provincial level and you see it replicated at the local level. Many municipalities as you know, I've announced a climate emergency - great. But now, it's always the challenges. It's not just that you plan and you announce, but what about the implementation? How can you make that happen now, in buildings, again, is a natural go-to. Because government is the biggest owner of buildings in our country, collectively, the federal government owns a lot of buildings, municipalities and provinces all around the building. Federal government has announced for its own building that they want to build the buildings to zero carbon by 2030, or their own buildings, that they want to retrofit the existing buildings to low carbon performance. They're the only one to lease office space on leased buildings that is zero carbon buildings by 2030. So they take a lot of steps also, as an owner as a procurer of products and services, to go that route. But the second part, then is the private sector, we have to get the private sector on board. Because remember that you cannot, you cannot regulate your way out of this. We actually need the private sector needs to be at the table and actually invest in the low current economy. And for us, on the building side, we really see that happen. Many of our largest members in the council, large commercial real estate owners have invested in green buildings in a massive way, in their portfolio of buildings. We see governments across the country have federal government, provincial governments, local governments using LEED and other standards that we that we provide for their own buildings. So but the private sector mezzanine is really important. And this whole aspect of and I'm sure you've been following that is around sustainable finance, that all of a sudden, not all of a sudden, but companies across North America and abroad have realized that climate is a risk. And that if it's left unchecked, it will actually detrimental to their business. And they have started to shift their investment patterns into into the direction that mitigates carbon emissions, but also investments into resiliency, building up the resiliency of the building stock of the building stock. So you see a real shift that's happening now on a financial side as well. And that's very much business driven. So those two really have to come together. Because if business beliefs, and I see it happen, our business believes that climate risk is real, which they do. And they believe that they can actually get a return on the investment by investing in climate solutions, then this can move actually fought their way quickly, supported by good policy and good regulation, to raise the whole ship.
Dan Seguin 17:55
For this question, Thomas, could you share with our listeners examples of how does your council make inroads towards reducing the environmental impact of the build environment.
Thomas Mueller 18:09
So we as the council for just so everybody understands that. So we, we continue to be an environmental organization. But we very much industry led, so our board and our members represent a cross section of the of the green building or the building industry, from designers, to owners, to manufacturers, to investors, to developers, and so on. And that's by design. Because we need all the different professional, the different expertise and knowledge to different sectors and sub sectors at the table. What we do is and how we started off, and what we still do is we actually set advanced standards for buildings. So LEED is an example of that. That another one is the zero carbon standard that we launched, our over three years ago, we set advanced standards for buildings that go well beyond the building code. And these standards are set in a way with the industry. So we working with the leaders in the industry, the set of standards, because we want to have standards that work in industry. And that work well in industry. So the industry feels they can build those buildings to that level, they can invest on those buildings, and it's actually possible, but there is depending on how far you want to go. There's considerable amount of stretching there. So it's not being you're not satisfied with the status quo. So one way is we setting standards and then we also those those building owners and developers that use our standards, we actually certify these projects, so we make sure that the meeting of standards, so we have a verification, quality assurance process to make sure it's being met and depending on what they achieve. We recognize them publicly for that achievement. In Canada After the US, Canada is the largest use of LEED in the world. LEED exists nine in 200 countries, Canada was the first adopter of LEED. We're currently about 1.5 billion square feet in our LEED program alone, across the country coast to coast to coast. Any climate, any billing time, you can imagine in our program, we have certified close to 5000 of those buildings now. setting a new standard for buildings, but in a holistic way. So energy, carbon water waste, sites, how we treat the site habitat. And then also, of course, as we talked about human health and transportation as well. So this is one way and then Mr. Pointing is that this standard through education, we are credit professionals. We organize events, like our national conference every year, and also very specific industry events. And then we also convene leaders in the industry. And we do a considerable amount of effort activity, advocating with all levels of government, and also with the private sector as well, all with the focus to moving the needle forward. So it's really it's a we have a very comprehensive approach on how to move the industry forward and education in that we trained professionals. But we also have the workforce development, as I mentioned before, that we need to train, from the trades to the architects in sufficient numbers, so we can deliver green building at scale. Scale matters a great deal.
Dan Seguin 21:40
Okay, you've alluded to this a little earlier, with buildings generating almost 30% of Canada's GHG emissions. When construction materials, processes and operations are considered. Why are green buildings an actionable solution for helping Canada meet its global change commitments.
Thomas Mueller 22:01
Going back to what I said earlier, no initiative focuses very much on transportation. And I'm all for transit systems. I take transit every day, and I never drive to work. And so and obviously, the large emitters need also be targeted. But the fact is that we cannot reach our climate change goals without addressing the building sector is not just in Canada, I think it's recognized globally, particularly over the last five years, did buildings play a huge role in not just new buildings, again, we can build our way out of the climate crisis, we need to actually really focus on retrofit, and that includes a large building retrofit. So it counts as a substantial program around large building retrofits of those buildings, over 25,000 square feet, that they need to be retrofitted at scale in the 1000s. Actually, and that's actually miracle other jurisdictions, if you go into in the European Union, they dedicate is something like a thing was 230 billion euros to retrofitting buildings across the member states. So it's called as part of the new green deal that they have in, in Europe. And that's significant. So it just shows you that without the building sector, we will not achieve our climate change goals. It's impossible. So there's a realization now there is now investment in terms of policy and grant and funding programs and regulations. But we still have a half a ways to go. Because in Canada, we have like last time, we have about 250,000 buildings, and millions of millions and millions of homes that need to operate a lot better than they are right now.
Dan Seguin 23:49
Now, Thomas wondering if you can expand on these next questions. Can green buildings become an economic driver? Can green buildings stimulate growth in the green building sector? And lastly, how can a green recovery that prioritizes green buildings accelerate the post COVID-19 economic rebound?
Thomas Mueller 24:17
It's all great. Good questions. Very good questions that I can answer. And I have actually some figures for you because we did just that we actually did a last year, we released a green building report that we did it was for the second time and it's called the Canada's green building engine. And it talks about the critical decade ahead leading up to 2013. But it also talks about the economic recovery. Just to give you a sense then is that in 2014 we had close to 300,000 full time employees in the green building industry. So these were individuals that worked on green buildings in Canada in the two years and four years after that, so by 2018, this has had increased by 55%. And it was with very little, just a bit of government intervention. So 55, those numbers of jobs actually exceed the jobs that you have in forestry and logging in oil and gas mining, and some of the support activities to support the oil and gas industry. Because they had by 2018, to about 260 to 263,000 jobs, versus the 460,000 shops in the green building industry, I just wanted to point it out, because people always get the the idea that these are this is one of our biggest employers, when in fact, the green buildings team employs a lot of people. Now, we estimated that if we continue with business as usual, by 2030, so without intervention, you just, you know, leave it by own devices. The by 2030, will have about 940,000, direct green building jobs, and close to 95 billion indirect GDP from green for green building industry. And we will eliminate 22.5 million tonnes of co2 in Canada. If the government were to invest in we have seen some of the investment this can be aggregated up quite significantly. If the government were to invest significant amount of money, which we're seeing now, these green building jobs grew up to about 1.41 million jobs. And the carbon reduction could more than double close tomorrow, just about 50 million tons. Now, that's significant in terms of just economic growth. And what plays into that is also that you create not just jobs, but he also creates skilled jobs. And he also jobs as an opportunity to skill chops, across the board in particular trades can kind of go spilling industries actually using a jobs even before a pandemic to the retirement. And this is real opportunity to bring new people into the industry, young professionals in the industry in skilled jobs. Because constructing and building low carbon fuel carbon buildings requires an enhanced skill set we currently don't have across the board. It also provides an opportunity to be more inclusive, and more diverse now workforce bring parts of our society into this workforce that currently does not participate in active way. Women construction industry is notorious for not having broad employment of women or underrepresented communities. So it's a real opportunity. But it's really opportunity to grow the economy because I think, post pandemic, I think it would be unfortunate that we go back to the business as usual. I think it's a real opportunity to pivot and to be ambitious and say, What is the Canada that we actually want? What do we want our buildings what we want our neighborhoods? What What, what do we want our cities to look like in terms of carbon in terms of livability, in terms of environmental footprint terms of our economy, and this is the real opportunity for government to invest because we know now that when money is needed, it can be made available to invest in something we have learned from a pandemic, when there's the climate crisis, if you and I'm you know, I'm an optimist, but you often hear the climate crisis, it will be way worse than anything that happened on the COVID-19. And the likelihood is very high, that that will be the case. But we have an opportunity to change course. And if we change because we have to do it now. We can't wait another 10 years, if we don't get to our 2030 goals, we certainly will not get to our 2015 goals. So we really have to have all hands on deck and move that keep the move the needle forward and I think, in the course of that grew our economy and develop new jobs, that drops and low carbon economy. Now,
Dan Seguin 29:33
let's bring out your crystal ball and set the dial to 2030. And the question is as follows. How much difference will building be making to our progress to net zero goals?
Thomas Mueller 29:49
Well, I think that if I look to 2030, what would I want to have accomplished? I would think by 2030 I would want all new buildings over a certain size, they say 25,000 square feet to build zero carbon performance, we can already do that now, we already have 25 buildings in Canada that are zero carbon certified and another 50 plus in the pipeline. So we really can do that now. So that's one. The other one is I would want a large building retrofit. at scale, we estimated and don't say that that's a prime number. And you know, we talk to economists, and everybody has their own numbers, but they're all relatively close. But you have to look at it that over the next 10 years, we probably have to retrofit anywhere between 50 and 60,000 buildings, over 25,000 square feet to be 20 to 40% more carbon efficient after the retrofit than now. So that's a big number. It's, it's a big number, but it's not insurmountable. And then the third one is where we'd really like to see is have to work for us build up have a more diverse and more workers in the building industry, that is more representative of Canada. And, and I think that would be really something really a very desirable goal. And also to expand buildings, not just to the Green buildings is a little bit the perception, and I think it's not deserved, but it's mainly into urban centers, and so on. I think, with the announcement of the primary federal government also present small and under underserved communities, I would like to see green buildings all over the country, I like to see green buildings in neighborhoods that are considered to be on the low income side. Because I think my in my books, I think the people that are the least able financially, should actually have the greenest buildings, they should be demands, the buildings are the healthiest. And they should have buildings that cost less to operate or to rent or to live in than any other demographic in Canada. So I think that you're expanding that concept. And you know what, the already plenty of affordable housing projects that have been built to LEED. They've been schools and built to zero carbon. It's not like that. But I think it's goes back to scale. So in 10 years from now, I think I would just like green buildings everywhere, not just in a big urban regions in Canada, but everywhere. And this is really the challenge. And then it becomes not just, oh, it's a green building something different. It's just becomes a part of fabric of our lives that yes, you know, we have high expectations from our buildings, when it comes to environmental and health performance.
Dan Seguin 32:58
Interesting. Now, let's keep on looking into the future here. What are some of the emerging technologies, innovations that hold much promise for the future of energy efficient, and net zero homes? What's exciting new right now about this industry?
Thomas Mueller 33:18
What is excited me about my the industry is that there continues to be a movement for it, because the building sector is always considered to be very traditional and slow moving. But it's actually the green building sector that is moving forward very, very quickly, with big companies being at the table making decisions around the quality, and just the scale of what they want to do with their buildings that they own or control. So I think very excited about that, and just the technology innovation, in terms of new technology. I think that overall, for carbon emission reduction, we do see a lot of technology coming up now around, you know, that are connected to electrification of buildings, the buildings need to be electrified. And that within that context, you'll see you know, more highly insulated buildings. You see a buildings that either have at least part of the renewable energy on site. But also in Canada, we have the advantage to take advantage of our green electricity in many parts of the country. And in that regard, you know, heat pumps often come you know, to the forefront is a technology that is having its day now and in the future. Of course, it's still more expensive than traditional way of heating and cooling buildings. But there's that opportunity and I'm also a big fan of geothermal. Generally to exchange system, your thermal systems as a way to maybe not on a single family home, but on community development. So I think the district aspect of what we're doing, I think is really important to that, how we look into that because there's all despite the pandemic there's a lot of building going on in Canada and the big projects that are being planned in you know, in Ottawa, you have Zibi, you have the, the National Capital Commission is developing this piece of land law pipe in France, where they're very ambitious targets in Toronto and Mississauga and all over the country depicted here in Vancouver, we have big developments going in south of the Broad Street Bridge. One on native land, indigenous land, the very ambitious and how they think about what these communities could be and housing 1000s and 1000s of people. So, these are district systems, I think we need to, it's good to think about building by building, but we also need to think about what neighborhood and community scale and how do you transform entire communities to be low carbon performance, right. And so district systems definitely come into play here and district system that of course are on renewable energy, or connected to a clean energy, clean energy grid, and BC 95%, carbon free, Ontario as a cleaner Quebec, and Alberta has plans to, to get off, you know, coal based electricity. So it's all going in the right direction,
Dan Seguin 36:37
Acting as a voice of the green building industry, your organization has been advocating for green building policy with all levels of government and the private sector across Canada. Have your efforts impacted green building standards?
Thomas Mueller 36:53
Yes, it absolutely has. Because when, when we did the rating systems in Canada, they be using a voluntary, so they're not they're not in code, per se. They're done by the owners voluntarily, in our rating systems reference best available standards. So they're not just, you know, written the base of a napkin, this is a very solid, very credible, based on very credible standards. But the way they often many instances, go beyond the code. And what that does is in the past, I mean, continue to do that with a zero carbon buildings, it actually shows those that are in charge of developing the code, that these buildings can be built now at a reasonable cost. And that's very important, because in bringing it down to reasonable cost is necessary so that the code officials can say, you know, we can take that step now. Because everybody in the industry can do it now at a reasonable costs, because the no power is available, the products are available, technology is available. So they can probably and we have been told that in the past, they were able to take the code further, based on the voluntary action that the industry has taken that we could have done otherwise. And that's a really important role for the counselor as well to continue to push the envelope to push it forward to what's doable. And we've been very successful at that over the last since 2004. And so that's a very important role. But the regulations at the same time, also have become more ambitious. So we look for ticket cities like city of Toronto, City of Vancouver, they are probably more ambitious codes on what they would like how to like regulate new buildings. And now they are also particularly have started to also look at existing buildings. And the federal government is planning also to develop a retrofit code, which will be the first of its kind in Canada to really start addressing building retrofit. So again, through our work, we hope to continue to inform codes and what's possible from a kind of a market perspective. And then also what's possible from from a technical and technology perspective as well. So we see that as our role, we are kind of your breaking new paths when it comes to buildings. And we have members and stakeholders that are very committed to this idea to this mission, and to use their skills to make that happen. So that's one of the core roles that we have and we kind of quantify that then through our own standards. They make sure it's done right. And and it's it's it's measurable and you can report out on it. Let's try As parents, it's very important to us. Now,
Dan Seguin 40:03
let's deep dive, and maybe even explore some of the key market trends and drivers that are enabling and accelerating Canada's shift to high efficiency, zero emission buildings, and how could these impact Canada's green building industry.
Thomas Mueller 40:23
Now, the big shifts are clearly the recognition of climate risk by the private sector, which is also addressed in what they call ESG - environmental, social and governance frameworks. And also expressed as we talked earlier, about sustainable investment, sustainable finance. You know, Mark Carney is one of the big players in this globally when it comes to financial disclosures, addressing climate risk, but also sustainable finance. So this is a big trend, that means the private sector stepping up and coming to the table, investing in things that actually mitigate carbon or eliminate carbon or reduce climate risk altogether. The second one is, of course, that the policy around carbon, we heard a couple of weeks ago that our targets are moving up now to more 40-45% by 2030, being consistent with the United States, and being consistent with the global emergence of what the current target should be. And you know, timing matters, right? It's climate change. But in Canada, and particularly North accelerating faster than we thought. So acceleration requires more focused and more targeted action. The third piece of that is, of course, a carbon pricing. carbon pricing, as it leaves it up to the business sector, and everyone else to decide how they want to reduce the carbon is a very effective mechanism to achieve corporate action across the economy. It's even though the carbon price of $50 it's a step in the right direction, but we need to actually be moving up $150-$170, or potentially even higher over the next 1015 years, is a, it's a very important aspect of driving the economy forward when it comes to carbon reduction. Because let's face it, there is a price on carbon that we already paying, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of human health, there's all kinds of impacts, and there needs to be a price on carbon to achieve that reduction. So it's the sustainable finance. It's the policy, it's the the price on carbon. And, and then the other one, the big market trends to that claim to carbon, how we started off our conversation today is this balance with health and wellness, health and wellness has risen very much to the top. And Canadians, like most people will care about the health and well being may very well be a high quality of life in Canada. And they care about health and well being and I think the green building agenda, the green buildings can actually help to enhance the health and well being of Canadians. By meeting the environmental aspects of the that that lie before us. Now, when it comes to in mind, we always focus on carbon, but there's so many biodiversity there is, you know, air pollution, there is water pollution, there is toxic substances in the environment. I mean, the list goes on and on.
Dan Seguin 43:55
I'd like to visit or let's say revisit, what is the role of certifications and building codes? And do you feel they've raised the bar on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability practices?
Thomas Mueller 44:12
Oh, Green Building Standards certainly have done that they have raised that considerably. And it's really up to the project owner to the developer to decide how far they want to go. But we have raised considerably the codes now doing that as well. A probably one of the best examples being used right off now is the BC step code, where they actually give some predictability in British Columbia, when the codes requirement will increase so the steps one to five currently, it's step one, and then insert meeting goal step two and sign up so that the industry has a good line of sight what the expectations are with regards to increasing the the building performance, environmental performance, and so on. So I think that's a really good tool. And generally, the code, particularly the local level getting more ambitious for those municipalities that can actually go beyond the provincial code. And federally, like I said, the codes are moving towards near net zero. And also there's also be a retrofit code. So there's movement there, they the the international code is always a bit challenging because it can be developed naturally with together with the provinces, but then the provinces still have to adopt it. And that sometimes can take time. In some ways can take years, provinces can make modifications to the code. So if I can give one message with the code, the codes are moving up and being more ambitious. But at the same time, I think the pace of adoption means a great deal. Because the code is on a five year cycle. It takes you five years to update the code. And then you put it into the industry and the provinces have to adopt it, you can lose a lot of time, till actually the first building is built to the code so that the code development cycle and the implementation cycle, the adoption cycle has to speed up. Because it can be like sometimes can be a decade before the first building is built to a new code. And we don't have that time. And I think it's 2030. So I think that's something that really needs to speed up across the country.
Dan Seguin 46:37
Okay, let's have a bit of fun here. Thomas. How about you close us off with some rapid fire questions? Okay, here's the first one What is your favorite word?
Thomas Mueller 46:50
Dan Seguin 46:52
What is one thing you can't live without?
Thomas Mueller 46:58
Dan Seguin 46:59
Okay, that's cool. Okay. What is something that challenges you?
Thomas Mueller 47:05
Dan Seguin 47:07
Now, if you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Thomas Mueller 47:12
I would restore ecosystems globally.
Dan Seguin 47:18
Great response here. If you could turn back time and talk to your 18 year old self? What would you tell him, Thomas?
Thomas Mueller 47:29
I would tell him that it probably comes easier that he would tell him to be non conforming. And that you can actually create a different future.
Dan Seguin 47:39
And lastly, what do you currently find most interesting in your sector?
Thomas Mueller 47:44
I find it interesting that the billing industry tends to be viewed as a traditional. But there's a whole segment and a growing segment of the industry that's driving innovation now. So I think that's a big shift in an industry that's been changed very, very passively change very, very slowly.
Dan Seguin 48:07
Thomas, I hope you had fun. I had a blast. I'm sure our listeners will truly enjoy this interview. Cheers. Thank you. Thank you for joining us today. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of The think energy podcast, and for past episodes, make sure you visit our website hydroottawa.com/podcast. Lastly, if you found value in this podcast, be sure to subscribe. Anyway, this podcast is a wrap. Cheers, everyone.