Canada and China announce low-carbon eco-district demonstration project

Date: 4 September 2014

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today between Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area establishes a framework to develop and implement a Sino-Canadian eco-district project that will benefit both countries and their respective citizens.

China now has the world’s largest housing construction market, with 15 million people moving from rural to urban areas in China each year. The Government of Canada is working to secure new market opportunities for Canadian natural resource industries.

The MOU establishes cooperation and exchange between the two countries to promote the development of eco-cities. Specific areas of focus include: wood frame construction as a low-carbon and energy-efficient building material; green building evaluation systems and technical standards; energy-efficiency standards; and the use of renewable and alternative energy in buildings and communities. Under the terms of the MOU, NRCan will also assist China over the next five years in developing a master plan for a portion or all of a two-km2 demonstration area in Tianjin and will provide technical guidance and quality assurance during implementation of the green building project.

Chinese companies are seeking partners to develop clean energy technology solutions, and the Chinese government is promoting cooperation with countries that can offer such solutions. The MOU signed today provides opportunities for Canadian clean technology companies in areas such as green building solutions, energy efficiency, smart grids, bioenergy, air and water monitoring and renewable energy.

Wood is a versatile building material that is both renewable and recyclable, making it an excellent choice for any new construction or renovation. In Canada, market-based forest certification programs, combined with comprehensive and rigorous forest management laws and regulations, ensure that our forest companies are well positioned to provide customers around the world with the assurance that the products they buy are from sustainably managed forests.

Choosing wood can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and the resulting products can continue to store about half that carbon for decades or even centuries. In addition, wood construction systems are seismically stable, making them a good choice in earthquake-prone areas such as China.

The joint MOU will enable Canada and China to collaborate in developing a project that will showcase wood use in multi-storey residential and commercial applications. The new eco-district will help China in its endeavour to satisfy the surging housing demands of its population, while lowering the carbon footprint of new urban development and meeting its national carbon emissions goals. Here at home, the MOU will enable the Government of Canada to help secure new markets for Canadian wood products and grow its global exports of softwood lumber, promoting jobs and growth domestically at a time when the global economy and Canada’s traditional markets for forest products are still recovering.

The Government of Canada continues to make significant investments to renew the forest industry in Canada and to support the workers and communities that depend on it. Since 2007, the Government has invested $1.8 billion in initiatives that are commercializing innovative technologies, opening up new markets and securing the Canadian forest sector’s position as a world leader in environmental performance.

Today’s MOU supports the objectives of NRCan’s Expanding Market Opportunities Program, which helps to diversify markets for Canadian forest products by addressing opportunities and obstacles in both offshore and North American markets. The program helps Canadian wood producers diversify and expand export opportunities for their products in traditional and emerging overseas markets, including Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, India and the Middle East. It is also supporting market expansion domestically through activities that accelerate the acceptance of Canadian building codes and products, training and quality control. Projects funded under this initiative are cost-shared with industry and other partners, with NRCan providing up to 50 percent of eligible project costs.

Source: Government of Canada