Community Buildings Retrofit (CBR)

Community Buildings Retrofit (CBR)

Breathing new life into community hubs through net-zero solutions

The facilities at the heart of Canada’s communities are often the buildings in need of the most significant upgrades. Aging arenas, pools, libraries and recreation centres require deep retrofits to improve their energy performance, reduce operating and maintenance costs, and transition to cleaner energy solutions over time.

Our Community Buildings Retrofit (CBR) initiative supports local governments and not-for-profit organizations in retrofitting their community facilities toward net-zero. Prioritizing sustainable asset-management practices and data-backed decision-making, CBR provides funding and resources at all stages of a retrofit project, helping communities of every size reduce GHG emissions, extend the life of their buildings and improve services for their residents. It encourages them to apply a long-term lens to planning, designing and implementing a pathway that reflects their unique objectives, constraints and preferred measures.

Achieving ambitious decarbonization goals through a pathway approach

CBR is leveling-up community building decarbonization through its GHG Reduction Pathway approach—a sequence of GHG reduction measures that enable municipalities to identify, assess and then implement a number of upgrades to their community buildings to achieve significant GHG reductions over time. This approach empowers municipalities and not-for-profit decision-makers to go further in their GHG mitigation efforts, making early and informed capital planning decisions for their assets in alignment with their specific organizational goals. The upgrades assessed and funded through CBR’s GHG Reduction Pathway will help reduce building GHG emissions by at least 50 percent within 10 years and by at least 80 percent within 20 years, all while managing capital and operating costs.

Since its inception in 2021, CBR has provided funding for 34 pathway feasibility studies, with two moving into the capital implementation phase in 2022–23. While the initiative serves communities of all sizes, it has a strong mandate to support smaller and rural municipalities. Twelve of those CBR studies support small communities with populations under 20,000 and nine have been for rural communities with populations under 10,000.


CBR 2022–23

  • 3,717 tonnes of CO2e/year in GHG emissions avoided
  • $25 million in funding approved for 25 community buildings
  • 21 projects funded in small and rural communities

A new way to upgrade your rink

Indoor ice rinks are often the largest GHG emitters and typically account for 20–30 percent of energy usage in municipal building portfolios. In 2022, CBR released a new guidebook, Taking your indoor ice rink to net zero, to help municipalities create an actionable roadmap toward achieving net-zero emissions for their local arenas. Developed in partnership with the Climate Challenge Network (CCN), this guidebook provides practical, step-by-step instructions on how municipalities can propose, plan and execute low-carbon retrofits for community ice rinks—and in doing so, generate savings, improve the quality of services for residents and support Canada in meeting its climate change goals.


CBR Advisory Services

In 2022–23, we piloted the CBR Advisory Services to assist municipalities in successfully implementing emissions-reduction retrofit projects in community buildings. CBR funding recipients can opt-in to tailored, one-on-one coaching from our advisors who can help them address gaps and improve the outcomes of their projects. Advisors assist with everything from stakeholder engagement, procurement and staffing to monitoring and analysis, establishing GHG benchmarks, and building recommissioning.

Following the successful pilot, the service was expanded to include all clients exploring CBR funding opportunities and now has 20 participating municipalities. We also recruited several new external coaches who will help scale the advisory work for the official program launch in 2023–24.