Responsible Buildings Pact launched to slash carbon footprint of construction materials

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Climate Smart Buildings Alliance, a joint project with EllisDon, RBC, and Mattamy Homes has announced the Responsible Buildings Pact, a new cross-industry agreement aimed at increasing the use of low carbon materials in the built environment.

The pact was launched at the Canada Green Building Council’s Building Lasting Change conference in Toronto with the first 23 signatories committing to support the first year of the collective industry effort.

“Builders should always use the right materials for the job, but, as an industry, we need to reduce the carbon footprint of the materials we use,” said David Messer, director of Climate Smart Buildings Alliance. “Recognizing the business realities everyone faces, the Pact is designed to make sure companies are asking the right questions, derisking climate-positive choices, and creating a sense of shared accountability.”

An open, voluntary, industry-wide agreement for developers, consultants, contractors, and supporters interested in working together to reduce the embodied carbon of the buildings they create, the pact has three core elements:

  • Remaining educated on lower carbon materials.
  • Establishing an internal process to consistently evaluate whether lower carbon materials or design strategies can be used.
  • Reporting publicly on the results of their evaluation process and evaluations publicly and identifying the ability to use lower carbon materials.

“Most builders have their own sustainability targets, but for any of us to succeed, we need everyone to be moving in the same direction,” says Brad Carr, CEO, Mattamy Homes Canada. “We can only get more low carbon materials and technologies in the market if others in the industry are also sending the same signal to suppliers. The Pact will help us coordinate and collaborate towards shared climate objectives.”

The first year of the Pact(June 2024–May 2025) will be a pilot year, with signatories only focusing on concrete. In 2025, a more formal agreement will be put in place to expand the Pact’s requirements for other materials over time, including steel, cladding, insulation, and finishes. The Pact’s first public impact report will be released in April 2025.

“Around the world, industry competitors are coming together to advance low carbon solutions. It’s a critical part of bringing new technologies to market, and ultimately solving the climate crisis,” John Stackhouse, SVP Office of the CEO, RBC. “This is why RBC is proud to be a founding member of CSBA, and why we’re also proud to support the Responsible Buildings Pact.”

With the formal launch with 23 signatories on June 5, CSBA is now launching outreach to bring more developers, contractors, and consultants into the Pact to broaden the impact of the initiative.

“Buildings are responsible for approximately one-third of all carbon emissions. The technology exists now to potentially reduce the embodied portion of those emissions by approximately 40 per cent,” Jody Becker, CEO and executive vice-president, Infrastructure Services and Technology at EllisDon, said in a statement. “We must create a sustainability culture across our industry in a similar way as our approach to safety – where doing the right thing isn’t competitive; it’s a collaborative mandate.”


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