Building for the future: Saskatoon’s Low Emissions Community Plan aims to slow global warming

July 15, 2020

Residential buildings made up one-quarter of Saskatoon’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 — that’s 913,000 tonnes of CO2. So when the City began to draft its Low Emissions Community Plan in 2019, residential buildings were one of the sectors that could be improved to reduce emissions and slow the effects of global warming. 

The plan is a 30-year roadmap to achieving emissions targets for 2023 and 2050 and while the plan covers six sectors that need action across both the community and corporate sectors, one of the more significant sectors is buildings and energy-efficient infrastructure. Thus the City has been consulted in Big Block’s Willowview Heights project, which will feature the first Net Zero multi-unit residential building in Saskatchewan.

Could Net Zero ready be mandated?

Hilary Carlson, greenhouse gas controls specialist for the City of Saskatoon and former project manager of the Low Emissions Community Plan, explained that this Net Zero project is especially important not only because it will bring the City closer to emissions targets but also because of suspected building code changes.

“Looking federally, there is speculation the National Building Code could mandate Net Zero ready construction by 2030 and so projects like this are really important because they’re not just single-use homes, they are multi-unit homes, which are going to become critical as our city looks to densify and not just expand outward but also grow up,” Carlson said. 

'Comfortable homes with low energy bills'

Carlson also explained that building Net Zero now rather than waiting until it’s mandated is important to staying ahead of the curve and enabling the local economy to diversify and grow its knowledge base of low carbon buildings.

“This project helps build aptitude within our city and within our local economy so that when the National Building Code gradually makes the move towards Net Zero, we’ve already got the expertise, enabling our local contractors to implement these projects. 

“Even if the National Building Code is not mandating Net Zero construction by 2030, I think it's really important that we educate and build the skill set in our community now. Why wait to build higher quality, healthier and more comfortable homes with low energy bills?”

The City of Saskatoon is a partner on the Willowview Heights project. We're so grateful for all the amazing partners who are helping to make this first-of-its-kind project a success.

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