Canadian homes and businesses could have much smaller carbon footprint by 2050, says joint IEA-NEB report

News Release
For Immediate Release

May 29, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta – National Energy Board

A new joint report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the National Energy Board (NEB) shows that CO2 emissions from Canadian buildings could be 80 per cent lower by 2050, with major energy intensity improvements and shifts away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

The report, Heating and cooling strategies in the clean energy transition, uses known technology solutions in a Clean Technology Scenario to explore the impact of reducing Canada’s building carbon footprint over the next 30 years.

A major share of Canada’s energy demand comes from the buildings Canadians live and work in, accounting for about a quarter of total energy consumption in the country. The diverse climate landscape in Canada has extensive influence on energy used for needs like heating and cooling, which together represent approximately 65 per cent of energy consumption in buildings across Canada.

In the Clean Technology Scenario, the mix of fuel and building energy technology in 2050 is considerably different from today and regional distinctions are taken into account. Electricity continues to dominate in provinces with large hydroelectric infrastructure like Manitoba and Quebec, but changes could include electric resistance heating being replaced with more efficient electric heat pumps.

Use of modern biomass technology rises for heating in Quebec, Atlantic provinces and the prairies. While in Western Canada and Ontario, natural gas will continue to be used with steady shifts taking place to more efficient equipment such as gas thermal, hybrid and electric heat pumps.

The report notes that capital spending for building improvements in the Clean Technology Scenario would correspond to an extra four to five billion dollars (CDN) annually to deploy low-carbon and energy efficient technology solutions for buildings; however, annual savings could reach as much as 24 billion CDN in 2050.

NEB staff are releasing and discussing the findings of the report with attendees at this week’s Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) in Vancouver. The CEM is a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs to advance clean energy technology to share lessons learned and best practices, and encourage the transition to a global clean energy economy.

The NEB publishes a portfolio of publications on energy supply, demand and infrastructure as part of the NEB’s ongoing market monitoring and assessment of Canadian energy requirements and trends.

Quick Facts

  • Energy demand in Canada’s buildings could decrease by as much as 35 per cent by 2050 relative to 2018 by using known technology solutions and without reducing building energy services.
  • About 85 per cent of energy demand reductions come from heating and cooling, without reducing energy services in Canada’s growing buildings sector.
  • High-performance new construction and energy renovations of existing buildings could result in a 65 per cent improvement in lowering the average space heating intensity of Canada’s buildings by a third by 2050.
  • By 2050, high-performance zero-energy-ready buildings will become the market standard, while all other construction moves to today’s best practice.
  • Energy renovation of existing buildings is central to reduce heating and cooling energy demand in buildings. In the Clean Technology Scenario, around 60 per cent of current residential floor area undergoes a major energy renovation by 2050.
  • The energy intensity of space heating in residential buildings in Canada today ranges on average between 75 kilowatt-hours per square metre (kWh/m²) for newer construction to as much as 220 kWh/m² or more, for buildings erected before 1960.
  • The residential sector accounts for nearly three quarters of floor area and 60 per cent of heating and cooling energy consumption in Canada’s buildings, and around 900 million m² in new residential floor space is projected to be added in by 2050.


“There are significant opportunities to lower energy usage and emissions through greater reliance on existing technologies in Canada’s buildings including homes and businesses. The joint IEA/NEB report presents a scenario where major progress could be made by 2050.”
– Jean-Denis Charlebois, Chief Economist, National Energy Board

Associated Links

The National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator of several parts of Canada’s energy industry. It regulates pipelines, energy development and trade in the public interest with safety as its primary concern. For more information on the NEB and its mandate,please visit the National Energy Board website.

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Karen Ryhorchuk
Communications Officer

Canada Energy Regulator
Telephone: 403-671-9756
Telephone: 403-292-4800
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265
Facsimile: 403-292-5503
Facsimile (toll free): 1-877-288-8803

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