More investment needed to create jobs in green construction and cut emissions from B.C. buildingsTo meet 2030 climate targets, utilities need to double down on spending with a focus on electrification and deep retrofits

Dec. 8, 2021

Construction work in a green building

Green building construction provides jobs. Photo: Roberta Franchuk, Pembina Institute

VANCOUVER — New analysis from the Pembina Institute shows that British Columbia’s green building sector is an area of growth that can create jobs and meet provincial 2030 and 2050 decarbonization targets. But increased spending is required, along with stronger incentives to switch from gas to electricity, and a more rigorous means of tracking low-carbon building construction.

Growth in B.C.’s green building sector spurs job creation documents the steady rise in green construction since 2015, while also highlighting where improvements are needed, the opportunities to strengthen sector-wide tracking, and the need to align with provincial emission reduction targets. 


“As our latest paper and  B.C. Green Buildings interactive map update show, there has been a solid uptick in green construction since 2015. Using electricity to power buildings instead of gas will go a long way with respect to B.C. hitting its building emission targets. But low-carbon programs need to grow rapidly in scale to achieve this.

“BC Hydro has introduced fuel-switching incentives and FortisBC is piloting a deep retrofit program, but our research indicates that utilities will need to double the funding they provide through demand-side management programs. Bold measures are also needed to ensure these investments are compatible with the climate goals and policies laid out in CleanBC, such as phasing out of incentives for gas heating equipment and limiting emissions from natural gas utilities.”

— Betsy Agar, senior analyst, Pembina Institute

“The green building and construction sector can be a real driver for decent jobs and economic growth. We estimate that eight to 10 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on green building retrofits and new green construction. On top of that, B.C. is also home to an increasing number of green building component manufacturers and suppliers.”

— Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze, buildings and urban solutions director, Pembina Institute

Quick facts

  • Estimated annual spend needed: $1.6 billion, with utilities doubling current spend.
  • B.C.’s green building sector employed 21,800 people in 2020.
  • 8-10 jobs are created for every $1 million spent on green building retrofits and new construction.
  • An estimated 28,900 certified green homes and 1,700 certified green large buildings are located throughout the province.
  • B.C. communities and buildings are expected to cut carbon emissions by up to 64 per cent of 2007 levels by 2030.
  • Energy use in buildings accounts for 13 per cent of Canada’s carbon pollution and 12 per cent of B.C.’s carbon pollution.


Download a copy of Growth in B.C.’s green building sector spurs job creation.


Victoria Foote
Senior manager, strategic communications, Pembina Institute


Report: Canada’s Renovation Wave: A plan for jobs and climate
Blog: For health, climate and jobs, Canada needs a major housing investment: Deep retrofits can boost GDP, lower emissions


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