Policy Action Recommendations
The following are Sustainable Building Manitoba’s recommendations for fostering a a vibrant and sustainable building industry centered around net-zero, energy efficient buildings in Manitoba. These actions have been sorted into six key areas, each highlighting an important element to building sustainably. These recommendations are intended to be shared and discussed with the community and governing bodies. We encourage you to read through and engage in dialogue to contribute to the improvement of building practices in Manitoba.
Click on each recommendation to learn more.
CODES AND STANDARDS
Advance and promote the acceptance of progressive national model codes across all building sectors that strive for Net-Zero energy performance and Net-Zero carbon building life cycles
Currently, Manitoba has committed to implementing Tier 1 for both commercial and residential buildings, which is the lowest level of performance permitted by the 2020 code. SBM is advocating for a swift transition to Tier 2 for NECB commercial buildings, and recommends bypassing Tier 2 and advancing straight to Tier 3 for NBC Part 9 residential structures. These recommendations are based on consultation and engagement with diverse building professionals across the board, and while ambitious, they are also very achievable targets.
Implement 2020 National Building Code (NBC) and National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) with a provision for annual report on state of compliance
In Manitoba, adopting the 2020 NBC and NECB isn’t just about construction standards—it’s about building a better future for everyone. For residents, this means living in spaces that are not only safer but also more efficient, potentially reducing energy bills and increasing comfort. For building professionals, it ensures every project meets best practices for sustainability. The annual compliance report offers public transparency, ensuring builders and developers remain accountable. Such swift action doesn’t just benefit our environment; it results in long-term economic savings for occupants. In our rapidly evolving world, this combination of immediate action and ongoing monitoring establishes a strong foundation for sustainable urban development, balancing both our environmental and economic duties.
Considering that Manitoba has chosen to begin with the most basic level, Tier 1, SBM is currently urging a swift transition to Tier 2 for NECB commercial buildings. Moreover, SBM recommends bypassing Tier 2 entirely and advancing straight to Tier 3 for NBC Part 9 residential structures.
Establish timeline and strategy to accelerate the transition to highest tiers by 2027
Setting an accelerated timeline to transition to the highest energy efficiency tiers by 2027 would be a significant stride towards an equitable and energy efficient future by the Government of Manitoba. For Manitobans, this would lead to homes and workspaces that are efficient, comfortable and affordable. For the building and design community, it’s an opportunity to lead the way in innovation and best practice in Manitoba’s unique climate. While an actionable transition strategy to higher performance tiers must be initiated by government, its success will rely on the collective efforts of residents, builders, and businesses alike. Together, we could be laying the foundation for a Manitoba that leads in mindful development and energy conservation.
Establish a Net-Zero code implementation task force supported by the provincial Chief Building Inspector
Launching a Net-Zero code implementation task force, with the backing of the provincial Chief Building Inspector, brings both authority and expertise to our journey toward sustainable building practices. This team isn’t just about setting lofty goals: it’s a deliberate strategy for meeting our green building aspirations. The task force will champion interdisciplinary collaboration, set tangible benchmarks, and ensure consistent industry adherence. The inclusion of the Chief Building Inspector will ensure the initiative is adequately supported, and facilitates the removal of administrative hurdles and aligning standards.
Implement mandatory energy labelling for all new buildings and major renovations
Implementing mandatory energy labelling for all buildings in Manitoba provides transparency about a building’s energy performance, empowering both consumers and investors to make informed choices. Highlighting energy efficiencies is intended to foster a market-driven demand for greener structures and encourage property owners to invest in energy-saving measures. As energy-efficient designs and retrofits become the norm worldwide, early adoption would allow Manitoba to position itself at the forefront of a global shift toward sustainable, economical and environmentally responsible development.
Increase code enforcement capacity in partnership with municipalities and authorities having jurisdiction
Enhancing code enforcement capacity in collaboration with local municipalities and authorities having jurisdiction is paramount to uphold the integrity and intent of building standards. Code enforcement is an important tool that ensures buildings are safe, sustainable, and compliant with established guidelines. With strengthened oversight, potential structural and environmental pitfalls are proactively addressed, safeguarding public safety and reducing long-term costs. Collaborating with municipalities and authorities having jurisdiction ensures consistent compliance while accommodating local nuances. Robust code enforcement is a critical component in building public trust, guaranteeing quality, and fostering a resilient built environment in Manitoba.
TRANSITION OFF NATURAL GAS
Back an evidence-based pathway to affordably transition all buildings, both new and existing, from fossil fuels to zero carbon alternatives.
Expand Efficiency Manitoba’s mandate to include and prioritize GHG emissions
Expanding Manitoba’s crown corporation, Efficiency Manitoba’s mandate to include and prioritize Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions is pivotal for holistic environmental stewardship. Their current mandate, which looks only at energy efficiency, does not account for the embodied energy and carbon costs of energy procurement, and as-is will result in the continued reliance on fossil fuels. A change to Efficiency Manitoba’s mandate will ensure that Manitoba’s energy strategies will align with provincial GHG reduction goals. By taking on GHG emissions, Efficiency Manitoba can drive both energy efficiency and carbon reduction, propelling the province to a leadership position in climate action. This expanded mandate will catalyze innovative solutions, stimulate green economic growth, and ensure a cleaner, sustainable future for all Manitobans.
Legislate the cessation of new natural gas connections to any house or building (including methane, propane, oil & diesel).
In Manitoba, where natural gas and related fuels are a primary source for heating, they account for 19% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in new natural gas infrastructure now is not prescient, and may lead to stranded assets as we are required to pivot toward green energy solutions.Allowing infrastructure to become obsolete before their typical end-of-life will lead to substantial financial loss, and an associated increase in GHGs, energy, and waste. Moreover, by continuing to expand natural gas infrastructure, we risk locking ourselves into a carbon-intensive energy system, making it harder to meet critical climate targets. With alternatives like geothermal available and Manitoba Hydro’s focus on renewables, the province has a unique opportunity. By halting new natural gas connections, we can avoid these pitfalls, ensuring that Manitoba’s energy future is both sustainable and economically sound.
Incentivize replacement programs that facilitate transitions to electric furnaces and appliances.
Electrification, especially when paired with Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric resources, aligns with energy-efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint. Transitioning to electric means buildings can integrate seamlessly with renewable energy sources, and optimize their energy performance. By offering rebates, collaborating with green building stakeholders , and emphasizing the synergies between electrification and energy-efficient design, Manitoba can further the adoption of sustainable construction practices. This proactive approach could forge a path for Manitoba at the forefront of eco-friendly architectural innovation.
Establish a public utility to plan, regulate, and operate neighbourhood district ground-source heat pump systems throughout the province.
This will enable Hydro to supply the power required to heat our buildings electrically and will save building owners money. By regulating and operating geothermal as a utility overseen by the Public Utility Board, the province can ensure consistent pricing, quality, and reliability. The utility will be responsible for maintaining service and responding to issues if they arise. It will also safeguard consumer interests against potential price fluctuations and service inconsistencies. Moreover, this governance structure fosters a reliable environment for the widespread adoption of geothermal. Through such oversight, Manitoba prioritizes both sustainable energy solutions and the best interests of its consumers.
Transition all Provincially controlled buildings off natural gas by 2027
While natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels, it remains a significant source of carbon emissions. By leading this shift to alternative energy in provincial buildings, Manitoba sets a powerful example, nurturing local green supply chains and developing valuable workforce skills. This visionary approach not only lessens environmental impacts but also promises long-term energy cost savings, allowing for reinvestment in other vital areas. In addition to supporting local green industries and inching closer to provincial GHG reduction targets, this transition paints the picture of a forward-thinking, sustainable Manitoba.
Incentivize smart meters to enable targeted energy and cost savings and to enhance our ability to plan for future energy needs across the province.
These devices provide real-time data on energy consumption, enabling consumers to make informed decisions for targeted energy and cost savings. For the province, this granular data aids in accurate energy forecasting, optimizing grid management, and reducing energy wastage. As we integrate more renewable energy sources into Manitoba’s grid, these smart meters play a pivotal role in demand response and distributed energy assimilation, bolstering a robust and flexible energy infrastructure. Thus, they’re vital for planning and meeting future energy needs sustainably.
Assist with the development and implementation of strong educational and training programs for industry upskilling and preparedness.
Provide annual fund for high-performance building training
Allocating an annual fund for high-performance building training would be pivotal for Manitoba’s construction future by ensuring an informed and capable workforce capable of working within evolving sustainable building practices.This investment would catalyze industry upskilling and prepare Manitoba to meet rising green building demands, reinforcing the province’s commitment to both environmental excellence and economic growth through a well-equipped and knowledgeable workforce.
Conduct an annual review of training capacity and retention to identify areas in need of Net zero/Low carbon building training program support and promotion
Conducting an annual review of training capacity and retention is crucial for equipping Manitoba’s construction workforce with the tools to excel in the evolving world of net-zero and low-carbon building. Regular assessments identify areas for upskilling, and ensures the provision of relevant and timely training. By identifying and addressing these needs, workers can stay ahead of industry shifts, enhancing their employability and market value. This proactive approach not only empowers the workforce with cutting-edge skills in sustainable building but also offers them a competitive advantage in the job market, ensuring they remain in high demand as the industry continues to move towards sustainable and energy efficient building strategies.
Establish clear training standards and career pathways for trades and services involved in sustainable building and site development
Establishing clear training standards and career pathways for trades and services in sustainable building and site development is a forward-thinking move for Manitoba. Standards ensure a uniform, high-quality skillset among workers, fostering trust and reliability in sustainable construction projects. By identifying possible career paths, workers are provided with a roadmap for professional growth, with the intent to foster continuous learning and specialization. This structured approach could elevate the quality of sustainable construction in the province and attract talent to the industry, positioning Manitoba as a hub of expertise and innovation in sustainable building and development.
Encourage use of sustainable, local materials, embodied carbon frameworks, circular supply chains, and waste management.
Promote and incentivize rapid industry adoption of accounting for embodied carbon materials in procurement through the use of relevant tools such as BEAM, LCA2 etc.
Promoting and incentivizing the rapid adoption of accounting for embodied carbon materials is crucial for a forward-thinking construction landscape. Embodied carbon refers to the total greenhouse gas emissions generated during the entire lifecycle of a material—from its extraction and production to its transportation, installation, and eventual disposal or recycling. By using relevant tools to assess and account for these emissions, stakeholders can make more informed procurement decisions, choosing materials with lower embodied carbon values. Incentivizing these practices will propel the industry to prioritize and integrate these metrics into decision making processes. This proactive strategy aligns with global climate goals and could position Manitoba as a beacon of sustainability.
Legislate Circular economy strategies for waste reduction and reuse of material, including banning materials from landfills (e.g. shingles, gypsum etc.)
Legislating circular economy strategies in construction presents both environmental and economic advantages for Manitoba. Reducing waste and championing the reuse of materials like shingles and gypsum not only eases the burden on landfills but also offers tangible economic benefits. By banning key materials from landfills, we stimulate innovation in recycling and repurposing sectors required for truly sustainable design and construction. An integrated approach would ensure that Manitoba’s construction industry thrives while transforming potential waste challenges into economic opportunities. This legislation would underscore a commitment to long-term environmental health and resource sustainability in our Province.
Incentivize a procurement policy prioritizing Indigenous, community-based, and/or locally-owned companies within the building and construction sector
Incentivizing a procurement policy that favors Indigenous, community-based, and locally-owned companies bolsters Manitoba’s socio-economic fabric. Prioritizing these entities fosters regional development by strengthening local economies, andensuring money remains within communities. Additionally, it promotes cultural inclusivity and reconciliation by recognizing Indigenous-owned businesses. By supporting businesses with strong ties to their communities, Manitoba ensures that the benefits of construction projects resonate at a local level, foster community pride, and create Manitoba jobs. Procurement incentivization champions a holistic approach where local knowledge and traditions enrich the building landscape, and projects resonate with the local culture and environment.
Request the Building Code includes durability and lifecycle for products and projects
Incorporating durability and lifecycle considerations into the Building Code is essential for long-term economic and environmental sustainability. By emphasizing durability, structures become more resilient, reducing maintenance costs and ensuring safety over extended periods. Addressing lifecycle ensures that products and projects are evaluated based on their entire environmental and economic impact, from production to disposal. This holistic approach drives the adoption of materials and practices that not only stand the test of time but also minimize waste and environmental harm, resulting in a built environment in Manitoba that is both sustainable and cost-efficient.
GREEN FINANCING & LIFE-CYCLE THINKING
Promote economic opportunities, investments, and incentives through a total cost of building ownership framework.
Establish low-interest, deep energy retrofit financing through programs such as PACE
Incorporating low-interest, deep energy retrofit financing through PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) offers a practical solution for Manitoba. PACE lets property owners secure financing for energy-efficient upgrades, with repayments conveniently added to their property tax bill. This straightforward approach eases up-front costs, making sustainable improvements more accessible for homeowners. Adopting PACE can stimulate the local retrofit market, contribute to reduced energy consumption across the province, and yield long-term savings for Manitobans, aligning with the broader goals of sustainable and economical property development.
Expand Efficiency Manitoba programs that support collective action from community and neighbourhood groups.
Expanding Efficiency Manitoba programs to support community and neighbourhood groups serves a dual purpose: fostering grassroots environmental action and strengthening community bonds. Community-driven initiatives resonate at a personal level, encouraging broader participation and pooling resources to ensure energy-saving measures are tailored to local needs. By empowering neighbourhoods, the collective impact on energy reduction becomes significant. Moreover, community involvement fosters a sense of ownership, pride, and collaboration. Strengthening such programs can thus accelerate Manitoba’s sustainability goals, harnessing the power of collective action and resource sharing, ensuring that energy efficiency becomes a shared community value. This is also a way to establish economies of scale to reduce project costs.
Implement a PST Rebate for net zero homes
Implementing a PST (Provincial Sales Tax) rebate for net zero homes and related retrofits is a strategic move to drive sustainability in Manitoba’s housing sector. This incentive supports not only those investing in new net zero homes but also homeowners looking to retrofit existing properties for enhanced energy efficiency. Making both new builds and retrofits more financially accessible encourages widespread adoption of energy-efficient practices. The rebate not only aids Manitoba’s climate goals but also invigorates local green construction and renovation industries. Through this, the province champions sustainable living while creating an environment ripe for long-term economic growth and environmental conservation.
HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS FOR ALL
Support the design, construction, and maintenance of healthy built environments conducive to human and ecological well-being including good air quality and universal accessibility.
Develop a Green Building Policy that mandates high performance standards for public buildings and spaces
Establishing a Green Building Policy that mandates high-performance standards for public buildings and spaces is not only an environmental imperative for Manitoba but also a fiscally astute move. By adhering to green building standards, public buildings can realize significant savings in energy costs, reducing the financial burden on taxpayers in the long run. High-performance buildings typically have lower operational and maintenance expenses due to their efficient design and durable materials. Over time, these cost savings can be substantial. Thus, adopting such a policy demonstrates a commitment to sustainability while also showcasing prudent financial stewardship, ensuring taxpayer funds are utilized effectively.
Establish minimum ASHRAE standard requirements for public spaces in all capital upgrades
Establishing minimum ASHRAE standard requirements for public spaces in all capital upgrades is a decisive move in Manitoba’s commitment to public safety and healthy built environments. ASHRAE standards, globally recognized, ensure optimal indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and ventilation, directly benefiting human health and well-being. By upholding these standards, public spaces mitigate health risks from poor air quality, such as respiratory ailments. Additionally, it underscores the province’s dedication to public safety, ensuring that everyone—residents and visitors alike—can enjoy spaces that are not only comfortable but also uphold the highest health and accessibility standards.
Legislate post-occupancy evaluations to identify performance deficiencies including Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ)
Legislating post-occupancy evaluations, with an emphasis on Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ), is paramount for Manitoba’s built environments. IEQ assesses the quality of a building’s environment in terms of air quality, thermal comfort, lighting, and acoustic performance, all vital for occupants’ health and well-being. Post-occupancy evaluations identify performance deficiencies that might not be discernible during initial design or construction phases. By ensuring that IEQ standards are met, Manitoba can safeguard building occupants against potential health concerns and ensure that all buildings are safe, comfortable, and facilitate a high quality of life.
Create a tax rebate program for the development and maintenance of sustainable urban landscapes
Creating a tax rebate program for the development and maintenance of sustainable urban landscapes is a win-win for both Manitoba’s environment and its municipal finances. Sustainable landscapes, such as native plantings, and rain gardens, combat urban heat islands, bolster biodiversity, and help to manage stormwater runoff. These landscapes provide better air quality, decrease energy needs, and also increase the beauty and aesthetics of urban areas. By encouraging such green investments, municipalities can see reduced infrastructure strain, fewer flood-related costs, and increased property values. Rebates would motivate developers and homeowners, and ensure that urban growth aligns with Manitoba’s ecological and fiscal well-being.