To ensure sustainable building methods are accessible and affordable, a shift in construction practices and resource streams must adapt towards a more circular economy. Reconnecting much of what is considered waste in our economy to a new purpose can create a more integrated system that highlights the principle of reuse beyond the household and throughout our supply chains. There are many ways to encourage circular economic activity by supporting local businesses that give purpose to their waste, like a brewery that might provide spent grain to a local farmer for pig feed or a clothing company that recycles its process water. There are also plenty of opportunities for new business creation around identifying systemic waste through re-purposing or developing new tech to extend the lifeline of material resources.
Ottawa’s Energy Evolution
|Municipal Emission Targets (2012 Baseline)||2025||2030||2040||2050|
|City of Ottawa Building Reduction Goals||30%||50%||100%|
|Community Building Reduction Goals||43%||68%||96%||100%|
OEC is working with the City and EnviroCentre to push forward two vital EE projects in the Ottawa Future Homes Pilot Project and Better Homes Ottawa that provide community-based evidence and financial support for Ottawa residents to adapt existing homes. Many of these critical changes are becoming standard when building new homes as appliances like heat pumps or HVAC systems which provide a more comfortable living space through regulation of heat and moisture exchange that can become an investment through reduced household consumption bills. The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program is needed to address the steep initial investments of deep energy retrofits with systems like Heat-Pumps, HVACs, and renewable energy fixtures allowing even Ottawa’s oldest homes to approach net-zero emissions.
SmartNet Alliance is an OEC Pillar 5 partner that connects small businesses with networking connections and resources needed to grow a small business. Forging regional ties amongst green industries to develop a circular economy of informed and actively connected stakeholders can help build Ottawa’s sustainable building capacity. SmartNet Alliance and the Sustainable Enterprise Alliance are prime examples of creating communities of established and emerging sustainably focused businesses that OEC can learn from and build off to link ‘green building’ stakeholders specifically. There are many similar local projects around the globe and within Canada that we take inspiration from, look to connect with, and advocate alongside.
Encouraging the diversity and production of plant-based and low-carbon building materials is a critical stride to ensuring Net-Zero is feasible for a wide-away of regions. By integrating agricultural, industrial, and commercial waste streams into building material developments, many innovations to create insulation, wall cladding, countertops, and many other essential household elements are pushing forth what is possible. While a straw home is not practical throughout the year in Canada, using it as part of insulation can reduce the building’s net emissions. In many cases, decisions on the choice of material are limited to the regional climate and building standards.
Linking Resource Streams & Green Businesses
While encouraging material and technological advancement, new resource streams will need to be connected to make low-emission materials cost-effective against fossil-fuel materials. Businesses that progress improvements and awareness in renewable energy, heat pumps, and HVAC systems and their marketability are vital in reducing our collective energy usage. There is also a need for small businesses that turn waste streams into building elements like; foundation, wall structures, home appliances & amenities, and anything related to material supply chains. The success of including low-emission or emission-embodying materials into common practice will depend on creative collaboration across industry, pressuring builders, and innovation from new and existing building businesses.