Ontario’s green building ambitions weakened by skills gap

by Steve Randall30 Jan 2019

If Ontario is to play its part in meeting Canada’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions then a construction industry skills gap must be addressed.

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) says that in Ontario alone, the impact of the skills gap is estimated at $24.3 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in foregone company revenues, with an additional $3.7 billion lost in foregone taxation.

“Training the labour force with the skills necessary for designing, constructing and operating high-performing, low carbon buildings is critical in supporting a clean growth economy and meeting Canada's greenhouse gas emissions targets," says Thomas Mueller, President and Chief Executive Officer of CaGBC. "To date, not enough attention has been paid to building the skilled labour market that's urgently needed to meet increasing activity in Canada's growing green building industry and meet future demand that is imminent."

The council is recommending new types of training, incentives and construction processes that will help the trades workforce support the construction and mass retrofit of buildings that lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"Technical skills are immensely important, but even technically proficient trades cannot do it alone," says Aubrey LeBlanc, Chief Administrative Officer of the Ontario Building Officials Association. "The whole construction ecosystem needs to be trained to achieve a higher level of green literacy if zero carbon buildings are to become the industry standard. Education for building officials would improve communication and collaboration with the trades on construction sites."

Construction workforce is changing
The call of action to address the skills gap comes as Canada’s construction workforce is in transition.

More than 87,000 retirements – almost 20% of the workforce - and up to 80,000 new jobs are forecast in the trades workforce over the coming decade.

"Well-informed, integrated teams are essential for delivering projects that perform well and meet goals in line with Canada`s zero carbon design aspirations. Including tradespeople from a very early stage will ensure that good intentions transform into actual results,” said Adrian Conrad, Chief Operating Officer at Cora Group Inc.

The full report ‘Trading Up’ is available on the cabgc.org website.

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