A recent report from ECO Canada, Assessment of Occupational and Skills Needs and Gaps for the Energy Efficient Buildings Workforce, focuses on the occupations and skills needed for designing, constructing, managing, and retrofitting energy efficient commercial and institutional buildings and multi-unit residential buildings. The report states that much of the technology, materials, and processes are in place, but workforce skills still need to be developed – for example, under a “building-as-a-system” approach, workers are increasingly called upon to function within multi-disciplinary teams, requiring soft skills such as collaboration and facilitation. Such a system also requires a workforce culture shift. A section called “ Future-Proofing the Energy Efficient Building Sector” provides a summary of core and growing occupations and skills related to design, construction, operation, and retrofitting of energy efficient buildings. The report assesses specific occupation skills and gaps, and recommends ways to connect with workers– and includes unions amongst the stakeholder groups which can support skills acquisition. The 73-page report is available for free download from this link (registration required).
The Canadian Green Building Council released a new report on April 30, Accelerating to Zero: Upskilling for Engineers, Architects, and Renewable Energy Specialists. The Executive Summary states: “To better understand what these key professions require in zero carbon education and training, this study was designed to: • Establish Canada’s first professional industry baseline of zero carbon building skills and knowledge among engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists; • Identify knowledge and skills gaps, as well as a preferred learning approach for engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists for the design, construction and operation of zero carbon buildings; and, • Recommend ways that education and training providers, accreditation and professional bodies, and policy decision-makers can support zero carbon building education and training for engineers, architects, and renewable energy specialists.”
The report is based on 318 survey respondents who self-reported their perceived knowledge and practical experience for the competencies derived from the CaGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Standard. The report makes seven recommendations for actions by professional associations and educational and training organizations, including: updating education and training curricula; use of common terminology across the field; incentivizing members of professional organizations and accreditation agencies to achieve zero carbon competencies; development of a wider variety of learning platforms to suit a variety of learning preferences; making zero carbon building competencies part of the core public sector training curriculum, and supporting the adoption of zero carbon building codes and related training and education.
Accelerating to Zero: Upskilling for Engineers, Architects, and Renewable Energy Specialists is a 48-page report; it was accompanied by a brief press release and a 7-page Executive Summary. It includes a bibliography, including the related CAGBC 2019 reports Making the Case for Building to Zero Carbon, and Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future. Not mentioned, but highly relevant is the 2017 study by John Mumme and Karen Hawley, The Training of Canadian Architects for the Challenges of Climate Change, published by the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Climate Change (ACW) project in 2017.
On April 17, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued a press release , announcing eight principles governing how architects can mitigate climate change, and urging the U.S. government “to protect policies designed to conserve energy and reduce carbon in the built environment”. An excerpt from the AIA statement “Where we stand on Climate Change” : “ We know that carbon neutral design and construction is a growth industry. Employers from roughly 165,000 US companies doing energy efficiency work expect employment to grow 13 percent over the coming year, adding 245,000 more jobs. …. In Philadelphia alone, 77 percent of the city’s buildings need energy retrofits, supporting the creation of 23,000 jobs. …. We call on policymakers to protect financing and incentives to help communities design, build and retrofit their building stock.”
The AIA’s Energy Leadership Group had also recently issued a commentary which summarizes and updates their long history of attention to sustainability. “As stewards of the built environment, architects and our collaborators must be leaders in providing a powerful response to climate change. In order to achieve carbon neutral design as standard practice by 2030, we need to urgently shift our practices to apply passive design techniques, energy efficiency measures, embodied carbon reduction strategies, and renewable energy in all of our projects. By implementing these techniques, architects provide our clients with increased value, through benefits to human health and productivity, energy cost savings and resilience.
Architects must also expand our roles beyond design practice, by engaging in public policy to ensure the design, preservation, and construction of sustainable communities and high-performance buildings. This requires our active participation and leadership in the development, evaluation, and use of codes, standards, evidence-based rating systems and financial mechanisms.”
Most recently in Canada, in August 2016, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada ( RAIC) joined with 11 other organizations in an Open Letter to the federal government, with recommendations for a national plan for improving the energy efficiency of Canada’s buildings.
Illustrating what is possible in sustainable designs, the Bibliothèque du Boisé in suburban Montreal was announced as the winner of the 2017 Green Building Award, given by the RAIC and the Canada Green Building Council. The annual award recognizes outstanding achievement in buildings that are environmentally responsible and promote the health and wellbeing of users. The building’s sustainability strategies include “an innovative integration of mechanical systems: a passive heating system uses the heat accumulated in a glass prism for redistribution through a geothermal loop. Low-flow ventilation through the floors reduces the number of ducts required. The building relies mostly on natural light, combined with task lighting, for energy savings: 75 percent of the library’s floor area receives natural light. The project emphasized the use of certified wood, low-emitting materials, and recycled or regional materials.”