As one of the most prolific hydroelectric producers in the world, the Canadian province of Quebec is making efforts to stay at the forefront of environmentally-friendly legislation. After the establishment of Quebec’s 2030 Plan for a Green Economy (PGE), the province has continued to promote green practices through policies including enacting the 2024 Bill 41, standardizing the environmental performance of buildings.

Quebec’s 2030 PGE was introduced in 2020 to support the continued electrification of the province’s economy. It established a target to reduce Québec’s greenhouse gas emissions by 37.5% below 1990 levels by 2030. The plan focuses on leveraging Quebec’s capacity as a renewable hydroelectric producer­ and establishes a commitment to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 through decarbonizing key sectors including buildings and heavy industries.

The PGE notes that “Québec is already starting from an enviable position, with one of the lowest per-capita emission rates in North America.” The province reduced its GHG emissions by nearly 9% from 1990 to 2017, though its decarbonization trajectory has stagnated since 2014. In order to achieve the PGE’s target of emitting just 54 MT CO2e in 2030, annual emissions must be reduced by 29 MT CO2e compared to expected 2030 levels— almost four times the reductions achieved between 1990 and 2017.

One of the major commitments made by the Quebec government in the PGE is the reduction of GHG emissions from the province’s buildings to 60% below 1990 levels by 2030. Buildings accounted for over 10% of total province emissions in 2017. These emissions are comprised not only of operational energy emissions, but also the embodied carbon emissions of the building’s materials. With construction expected to increase in the province, these embodied carbon emissions must be tackled to complement reductions associated with electrification.

Quebec’s 2030 PGE recognizes that the development of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies and innovative materials is crucial to decarbonizing buildings: “Carbon sequestration and utilization technologies are, for the most, still in the development stage. Some projects are emerging in Québec and could represent interesting potential in the coming years … investments in preventing the risks associated with climate change will open up development opportunities for many businesses and multiple trades, especially in the construction sector.”

In order to support the reduction of GHG emissions in Quebec’s building sector, the province enacted Bill 41 respecting the environmental performance of buildings in 2024. This plan, put forth by Benoit Charette, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment, the Fight Against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks reiterates and discusses the government’s goal of reducing building emissions, and lays out specific regulations regarding the reporting and standardization of environmental performance standards for the building sector.

Under Bill 41, a public register will be established cataloguing mandatory reports on the environmental performance of the province’s buildings, including carbon footprint, energy consumption, energy produced by the buildings, and materials used in building construction, renovation, and demolition. Based on these reported statistics, the government will assign buildings an environmental rating, taking into account “the type of building and its characteristics, the construction work carried out, the location of the building, and the amount and type of energy consumed or produced and when that energy is consumed or produced.” Several leading organizations, such as Bâtiment Durable Québec and Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec, have argued for a stronger emphasis to be put on embodied carbon and on whole project life-cycle analyses. Nonetheless, Bill 41 remains an important step in the right direction for Quebec.

The government can also establish province-wide standards under Bill 41 regarding the environmental performance of buildings during construction, use, renovation, and demolition, with special consideration given to immovable heritage buildings. Mandatory compliance with these standards will allow the province to monitor, publicize, and decarbonize its building sector in conjunction with the 2030 PGE.

Quebec’s 2030 Plan for a Green Economy and Bill 41 respecting the environmental performance of buildings both firmly establish the importance of new innovations in low-carbon building materials to a net-zero plan. CarbiCrete offers made-in-Quebec technology that enables the decarbonization of concrete, one of the building and construction sector’s most pollutive materials. Through replacing 100% of cement in the concrete mix with steel slag, an industrial byproduct, and curing the resulting products with CO2, the CarbiCrete process utilizes CCUS and waste valorization to decarbonize a key industry in Quebec, enabling net-zero goals at the local and global level.

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