NAIMA Canada Comments on Canada’s National Infrastructure Assessment

June 30, 2021

NAIMA Canada, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, is a national organization that represents the mineral fibre insulation manufacturers, advocates for building professionals, homeowners and building operators, and supports achieving Canada’s net-zero goals.

Our organization has a long-standing history of collaborating with all levels of government, as well as other national organizations such as the Canadian Home Builders Association, Workforce 2030, Efficiency Canada, and the CMHC to help inform policy, programs, standards and regulations, codes, best practices, and skills Development.

Physical infrastructure has been assessed as one of six major climate change risk areas that are nationally significant and could lead to significant losses, damages, or disruptions over the next 20 years in Canada. It has been estimated that infrastructure failures linked to climate change could cost Canada $300 billion over the next decade if no further changes are made to existing practices.

Such changes to existing practices include new solutions in energy efficiency and the way we perceive these asset classes in terms of medium to deep energy retrofits. The best pathway for Canada to achieve its greenhouse gas emission targets includes deep and widespread energy efficiency improvements to the residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial building stock.

The Canadian construction industry accounts for 1.4 million people, generating $141 billion to the economy annually which accounts for 7.5% of Canada’s gross domestic product. Correspondingly, there are an estimated 9 million residential buildings in Canada and 480,000 commercial and institutional buildings. Many of these units are at end of life and are primed to be engaged for deeper measures.

NAIMA Canada supports long-term infrastructure planning that helps to achieve a net-zero emissions future while growing the national economy and connecting communities. Our work to promote and educate Canadian contractors on energy conservation and building envelope-first strategies helps to create a more resilient, safer, and healthier built environment. This approach can be achieved by taking an integrated, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary approach when retrofitting existing buildings and structures.

Providing grants for up-front costs of these retrofits is an appropriate strategic starting point.

These investments would create benefits from coast to coast to coast, creating over 125,000 jobs in technology, skilled trades, construction, and manufacturing. Many construction industry products are manufactured locally and are installed and maintained by people in Canada. Every dollar of funding will be going right back into the Canadian economy.

NAIMA Canada supports the attraction, training, and retention of talent in the skilled trades, especially for the growing number of careers in energy efficiency. By addressing Canadian careers in this field, we encourage new ideas, improve economic equity, and accelerate a post-Covid economic recovery.

NAIMA Canada sees the skilled trades as a cornerstone of job creation efforts and as a strategy to economic recovery and productivity. There is a need for accessible learning to achieve energy efficient buildings as building codes and standards change. The workforce needs to understand the nuances of retrofitting in order to tackle the existing building stock. This will require developing and expanding knowledge of resiliency and retrofits, including regional considerations across our nation.

NAIMA Canada will work with all levels of government and within communities to provide solutions on the need for continuous learning to keep pace with the acceleration of codes and processes required to achieve energy efficient buildings. We support the government’s vision of promoting economic growth, job creation, tackling climate change, and improving the quality of life for all Canadians. Our organization is ready to collaborate.

Retrofitting Canada’s buildings to reduce emissions and to perform better in Canada’s harsh environments and any future disruptions that will be caused by a changing climate is a necessity. Canada’s buildings will be better prepared for extreme weather events brought on by climate change and become more comfortable, healthy, and productive places to live and to thrive.

To build the Canada we want by 2050, it is time to launch an innovation-oriented building retrofit mission that goes beyond deferred maintenance. This approach is needed for GHG reduction-focused energy retrofits, requiring taking an integrated whole-home approach to design, policy, and management systems that results in high quality retrofits across the nation, and starting now.