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Embracing Sustainability: Canada’s Commitment to Green Infrastructure and Construction

Urban development is now one of the main ways humans impact our planet. According to the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, the sector accounted for around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021. This percentage includes significant indirect emissions from the energy used in the manufacturing and transportation of building materials and equipment, as well as emissions associated with demolition and waste disposal.  

The numbers may be alarming, but the statistics also underscore the potential impact the construction industry and its stakeholders have in mitigating Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. With concerted efforts to adopt eco-friendly practices and embrace innovative technologies, the construction industry is poised to play a pivotal role in building a more sustainable future for our planet. 

Green infrastructure 

Addressing GHG emissions requires a combination of policy measures, technological innovation, and individual actions. One way we can build a more sustainable and resilient future is through green infrastructure, which is an innovative approach that fuses natural and engineered systems. This approach distinctively draws inspiration from nature by utilizing or replicating ecological systems.  

One example is the green roof, designed to replicate meadows to retain water and restore habitats on the top of buildings. Traditional approaches or grey infrastructure view water as a hazard, while green infrastructure recognizes water as a valuable resource that supports healthy landscapes and waterways.  

The benefits of green infrastructure reach far beyond the restoration of buildings and their surrounding space; it fosters social, economic, and environmental integrity, which are integral components of sustainable development. 

Canada’s climate commitment

Image source:, by NicoElNino

Canada has set an ambitious target of net-zero emissions by 2050, and the buildings sector plays a critical role in achieving this target, being responsible for about 13% of Canada's total GHG emissions, according to the Government of Canada's 2020 National Inventory Report

Canada's emission reduction plan involving the infrastructure and construction industry is focused on promoting low-carbon technologies and improving energy efficiency in buildings. The government has introduced several initiatives and policies to support this goal, including the Investing in Canada Plan, green infrastructure investments through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. These initiatives are expected to reduce emissions from the infrastructure and construction sector and contribute to Canada's overall goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Currently, the state of green infrastructure in Canada is promising, as there is a number of programs and initiatives in place to support its development. 

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of green infrastructure practices in Canada, particularly in urban areas. Many Canadian cities have implemented policies and programs to promote green infrastructure, such as Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw, which requires new buildings to have green roofs, and Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy, which promotes the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management. Furthermore, the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada certification program which provides a framework for sustainable building design, construction, and operation. Many new buildings in Canada are being designed and constructed to meet the LEED certification requirements, which helps reduce their environmental impact.

Image source: Rain City Strategy, Vancouver and Podium Green Roof, Toronto

Harnessing clean energy  

Beyond initiatives and policies for sustainable building, Canada is also making significant strides in renewable energy development and grid modernization to strengthen its climate plan. In June 2021, the Canadian government announced that it would invest over $960 million in renewable energy and grid modernization projects across the country.  

To usher the transition towards a low-carbon economy, the funding will support the deployment of renewable energy technologies to increase the use of clean energy in Canada and help reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels. The advancement will also support research and development initiatives that will focus on advancing energy storage technologies and smart grid systems.  

Image source: Environmental Journal

Canada's investment in renewable energy and grid modernization projects are significant steps towards achieving the country's climate goals. By increasing the use of clean energy and improving the efficiency and reliability of the grid, Canada can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon economy. 

Challenges in Green Infrastructure Adoption 

Canada is actively involved in investing in green infrastructure, however, despite these positive developments, there are still challenges to the widespread adoption of green infrastructure in Canada.  

Investing in green infrastructure is crucial for building a sustainable future, but the high upfront costs associated with these projects often act as a significant barrier. Green infrastructure projects, such as renewable energy installations, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable transportation systems, require substantial capital investments at the outset. These upfront costs present a challenge for potential investors, especially when compared to traditional infrastructure projects. The financial burden, combined with uncertainty surrounding returns on investment and long payback periods, makes green infrastructure projects less attractive to investors. 

The consequences of the high upfront costs for green infrastructure investment in Canada are far-reaching. This obstacle does not only discourage potential investors, but it also hampers the widespread adoption and development of sustainable solutions, slowing down the transition to a low-carbon economy. This lack of investment also affects job creation in the green sector, limiting opportunities for economic growth and innovation. Moreover, it exacerbates environmental challenges, such as climate change and pollution, as the adoption of sustainable solutions is impeded. 

Another factor that contributes to the challenges of adopting sustainable solutions is the lack of clear and consistent government policies and regulations. The absence of standardized project evaluation methodologies and risk assessment tools makes it challenging to accurately assess the viability of green infrastructure investments. Additionally, Investors require stable and predictable frameworks that incentivize green projects and provide long-term support. 


In conclusion, the current situation of green infrastructure in Canada is promising, although the adoption of green infrastructure presents numerous challenges, including funding constraints and regulatory barriers. However, the potential benefits of green infrastructure are significant, ranging from improved environmental quality to enhanced social and economic well-being. Overcoming the obstacles to green infrastructure adoption requires a multi-dimensional approach that involves actions from the government, knowledge building, collaboration, and research. By leveraging environmentally friendly approaches and practices, Canada can address climate change and promote sustainable development for the benefit of present and future generations.

About Archipelago

Archipelago is a professional services network in the architectural, engineering & construction (AEC) industry that aims to connect member firms, boost productivity, and harness technology to meet the increasing demand for infrastructure and housing. Our mission is to empower firms by sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise, fostering innovation in designing sustainable development for future generations. Join our network today, and let's collaborate to shape a better future for all.