Bottom Line – Costs and Emissions Savings

RCMP Building with green features, Ladysmith.Civic building operations typically account for a significant portion of corporate emissions. On average, these emissions are 48% of the total in Canada [1], but vary widely between BC communities – for example, 22% in Squamish [2] and nearly 55% in the City of Nanaimo [3]. Building operations are also one of the largest cost items for local governments.

Civic buildings represent an opportunity for both emissions reductions and cost savings.

Emissions reductions from corporate buildings will directly benefit Carbon Neutral accounting. These reductions can result from energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, implemented as part of existing building retrofits and new building design.

Building new construction green makes good financial sense. Reductions in life-cycle energy costs generally far exceed capital cost premiums [4]. And the upfront cost of building green is decreasing: A recent study found no difference between the average cost per square foot of LEED rated buildings compared to conventional construction in the US [5]

Green, low-carbon civic buildings are efficient, use low-emission energy sources, and provide improved indoor working environments.

Likewise, energy efficiency retrofits can result in good return on investment, improving long-term government fiscal performance [6]. Most BC civic buildings are under the direct control of the local government, allowing for cost effective retrofits.

Additionally, green buildings have also been shown to have positive impacts on employee productivity, through improvement in working environments such as air quality and natural light. Some green design options, such as natural ventilation and lighting, benefit both energy efficiency and the indoor environment.

Civic buildings also offer an opportunity to lead the community by:

  • Demonstrating successful implementation of building retrofits and new technology to the community, and allowing community members to experience the benefits
  • Building government and local professional capacity in green, efficient building knowledge and practices

[Use the tabs above to learn WHAT this sector is and HOW you can reduce emissions in civic buildings.]


[1] ICLEI Energy Services. (2000). PCP Inventory Compilation & Analysis. Partners for Climate Protection Program.

[2] The Sheltair Group. (2007). Bridging to the Future in Squamish - Energy & Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline & Forecast. District of Squamish.

[3] Hyla Environmental Services. (2007). City of Nanaimo Corporate Climate Change Plan. City of Nanaimo.

[4] Greg Kats, Leon Alevantis, Adam Berman, Evan Mills & Jeff Perlman. (October 2003). The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings. California Sustainable Building Task Force.

[5] Lisa Fay Matthiessen & Peter Morris. (2007). The Cost of Green Revisited. Davis Langdon.

[6] Community Energy Association. (2007). Energy Efficiency & Buildings - A Resource for Local Governments.