Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy for 2020 to 2023

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Section 1: Introduction to the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

The 2019 to 2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS)Footnote 1 presents the Government of Canada’s sustainable development goals and targets, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development ActFootnote 2. In keeping with the purpose of this act to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that will make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) supports the goals laid out in the FSDS through the activities described in this Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS).

The FSDS is a key element of Canada’s response to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2019 to 2022 FSDS focuses on the environmental dimensions of these goals. It also takes a more comprehensive approach to the Greening Government goal than past Strategies, including new commitments to reduce the environmental impacts of government operations (for example, by diverting waste from landfills), as well as work to improve the climate resiliency of government assets, services and operations.

This DSDS articulates how TBS is advancing the goals of the 2019 to 2022 FSDS and how it will report on these efforts. As the home of the Centre for Greening Government, which leads the Government of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy, TBS plays a strong role in supporting the FSDS’s Greening Government goal to transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient and green operations.

Section 2 describes TBS’s vision for sustainable development in the context of its leadership on the Greening Government goal and its support of other departments in advancing their priorities under the FSDS.

Section 3 identifies indicators and targets that TBS will use to report on key actions under the Greening Government goal. While TBS undertakes many activities to improve the environmental sustainability of government, the list in this section includes only those actions that relate directly to FSDS commitments and their corresponding SDGs, and for which progress indicators will be available in the relevant time period.

Section 4 expands on Section 3 by describing other TBS activities that advance the Greening Government goal but focuses on how TBS is piloting and implementing greening initiatives that can be replicated government-wide. In future annual updates, this section of narrative reporting will also be used to reflect how the department is adapting its Greening Government actions to address the government’s evolving operating context (for example, in response to COVID-19).

Greening Government Strategy

The Greening Government Strategy sets out the Government of Canada's commitment to be a global leader in government operations that are low-carbon, resilient and green. The government commits to:

  • low-carbon, sustainable, and climate-resilient real property
  • low-carbon mobility and fleets
  • climate-resilient assets, services and operations
  • procuring green goods and services

The Centre for Greening Government, housed at TBS, provides leadership in the efforts to green government operations and works with departments to implement the Greening Government Strategy.

For more details on the scope of government’s efforts including the commitments, targets and measures being taken, see the Greening Government StrategyFootnote 3.

Section 2: Sustainable Development vision and context in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

In this section


As the administrative arm of the Treasury Board of Canada, TBS works with departments and agencies to continually improve management in the federal government. Related to this responsibility, TBS plays a leading role across government in advancing the Greening Government goal of the FSDS.

TBS’s main contributions are as the central agency responsible for developing and supporting the rules of implementation related to Greening Government, and also for providing leadership and support to federal departments and agencies through the Centre on Greening Government. In addition, through its ongoing work reviewing Treasury Board submissions and regulatory proposals, TBS supports other departments in implementing their commitments under the FSDS and Greening Government Strategy. Further, TBS aims to lead by example by greening its own internal operations as a model for the actions it promotes across government. The COVID-19 pandemic has required the government to make significant changes to how it operates. TBS will explore the new opportunities that these changes create to further and more rapidly improve the environmental sustainability of government and TBS operations.

FSDS goal: Greening Government

The Government of Canada has committed to transitioning to low-carbon, climate-resilient and green operations. The government has a large real property portfolio that uses a significant amount of energy. It also spends billions of dollars every year on goods and services in order to serve Canadians. By working toward low-carbon, resilient and green Government of Canada operations, the government can support the transition to a low-carbon economy, stimulate the clean technology sector, contribute to Canada’s international climate change commitments, and achieve cost savings.

Through the Greening Government Strategy, the government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations by 40% by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and by 80% by 2050 relative to 2005 levels (with an aspiration to be carbon-neutral). Making the government’s real property low-carbon and green is integral to achieving these targets.

Real property was the source of 89% of the government’s targeted emissions in 2018–19 and is linked to many other commitments in the Greening Government Strategy. Real property also accounts for nearly 40% of the government’s procurement. By requiring that new buildings be net-zero carbon, all major retrofits prioritize low-carbon approaches, and all buildings use 100% clean electricity by 2025,Footnote 4 the government is greening its procurement, lowering its emissions and supporting the transition to the clean economy. The government is also taking action to green its office leases in buildings where it is the majority tenant by including improved energy and sustainability performance standards.

Work to improve the environmental sustainability of government assets and operations extends beyond real property. The government is committed to reducing emissions from its fleets and to reducing emissions associated with its supply chains. It will reduce other environmental impacts by managing water use and waste generation. Government operations will be made more resilient to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.

TBS supports the Greening Government goal of the FSDS by:

  • Developing new rules for procuring and managing assets and acquired services (for example, real property, goods – including fleets – and services), and supporting their implementation. TBS began the implementation process by incorporating Greening Government objectives into the Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments, which came into effect in 2019. Work to renew related policy instruments continues, and TBS will incorporate relevant Greening Government objectives into these instruments.
  • Providing leadership and support to departments and agencies through the Centre for Greening Government, which is responsible for developing, updating and coordinating implementation of the Greening Government Strategy (see Box 1). The Centre does this by:
    • increasing transparency and accountability by collecting and publishing detailed environmental performance information on government operations
    • providing project funding, through the Greening Government FundFootnote 5, to federal government departments to test or implement innovative approaches to reducing GHG emissions in their operations
    • developing guidance to support departments as they work to understand and reduce risks from the impacts of climate change on real property and physical assets
    • establishing common standards for sustainable procurement through the Policy on Green Procurement and related policy instruments
  • Helping to advance the other FSDS goals as part of TBS’s ongoing review of the proposals that come to the Treasury Board. When departments and agencies seek Treasury Board approvals for new spending proposals or authorities or seek Treasury Board (Governor in Council) approval for regulatory proposals, they must demonstrate that they have completed a Strategic Environmental Assessment in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals.Footnote 6 TBS reviews the information and analysis that departments provide and advises Treasury Board ministers, where appropriate, on the environmental implications of approving proposals.
  • Leading by example to improve the internal operations of TBS
    • TBS is conducting a climate risk assessment of its programs and operations. When it completes the assessment, TBS will consider what actions it needs to take to reduce these risks, and how the approach may be promoted to other departments.
    • TBS is piloting and implementing greening initiatives that can be replicated government-wide. As explained in more detail in section 4, TBS will promote greening government through improved processes, reduced environmental footprint of departmental vehicles and operations, and enhanced green procurement.

Section 3: Commitments for Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Greening Government: The Government of Canada will transition to low-carbon, climate resilient, and green operations
Responsible minister: All ministers

This goal captures commitments from the Greening Government Strategy, as well as reporting requirements under the Policy on Green Procurement.

FSDS target(s) FSDS contributing action(s) Corresponding departmental action(s) Contribution by each departmental action to the FSDS goal and target Starting point(s), target(s) and performance indicator(s) for departmental actions Link to the department’s Program Inventory

Reduce GHG emissions from federal government facilities and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 (with an aspiration to be carbon neutral)

Publicly disclose detailed environmental performance information on government operations—in particular, a complete inventory of federal greenhouse gas emissions and energy use—on the Greening Government website each year

Aggregate and publish environmental performance information on government operations on the Greening Government website each year, including an inventory of federal greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, as well as other environmental performance measures

Provide annual updates on the overall reductions in GHG emissions from federal government facilities and fleets


Monitoring and reporting environmental performance information is critical for ensuring that the government is on track with respect to its long term targets and for upholding the principles of transparency and open data

SDG: SDG 13: Climate action

Starting point: 32.6% reduction in GHG emissions as of 2018-19

Target: 40% reduction by 2030 (with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025) and 80% reduction below 2005 levels by 2050 (with an aspiration to be carbon-neutral)

Indicator: percentage reduction in Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from federal facilities and fleets (excluding national safety and security) from base year 2005–06

Centre for Greening Government

Actions supporting the Goal: Greening Government

Departments will adopt clean technology and undertake clean technology demonstration projects

Provide project funding to federal government departments and agencies to test or implement innovative approaches to reducing GHG emissions in their operations, through the Greening Government Fund


Supporting the use of innovative clean technologies will help reduce the environmental footprint of government operations while contributing to the success of clean-tech businesses in Canada.

SDG: SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Starting point: In 2019–20, the Greening Government Fund allocated $9.8 million over 4 years

Target: 100% of available funding is allocated to projects

Indicators: percentage of available funding committed to projects

Centre for Greening Government

By 2022, departments have developed measures to reduce climate change risks to assets, services and operations

Increase training and support on assessing climate change impacts, undertaking climate change risk assessments and developing adaptation actions to public service employees, and facilitate sharing of best practices and lessons learned

Undertake an assessment of potential climate impacts that may affect TBS operations and programs

Develop measures to reduce identified risks, where warranted

Understanding the likelihood and severity of climate change impacts and taking action to reduce identified risks contributes to more resilient services and operations

SDG: SDG 13: Climate action

Target: 13.1

Starting point: Work is underway to complete TBS’s climate risk assessment

Target: By 2020–21, complete a departmental climate risk assessment and, by 2022–23, develop measures to reduce identified risks, where warranted

Indicators: completion of climate risk assessment for TBS, and development of measures to reduce climate change risks to TBS’s assets, services and operations, where warranted

Centre for Greening Government

Section 4: Integrating sustainable development

TBS continually strives to integrate sustainable development into its internal decision-making and operations. In particular, TBS accounts for its environmental impacts through the following departmental processes and activities:

  1. Promote FSDS goals in internal decision-making processes: As with all departments and agencies, when TBS puts forward Cabinet proposals, it is required to complete Strategic Environmental Assessments in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program ProposalsFootnote 7. Through its Strategic Environmental Assessment process, TBS takes into consideration FSDS goals and targets in its internal decision-making processes.
  2. Decrease the environmental footprint of departmental operations: TBS will limit waste generation in a number of areas. To divert non-hazardous waste from landfills, a composting program is in place in Ottawa at 90 Elgin, and is expected to be implemented at its other major location, at 219 Laurier. In addition, TBS works closely with its facilities managers to monitor the findings of periodic waste audits and adapt operational approaches in response. (This activity may be affected by decisions regarding TBS employees returning to the worksite during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.)
  3. Continue to modernize work practices and support alternative sustainable work arrangements by sustaining the digital working environment that has been established as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for TBS employees to work remotely.
  4. De-carbonize TBS’s executive fleet by replacing its vehicles at the end of their life cycle with hybrid or zero-emission vehicles, prioritizing zero-emission vehicles where possible. The fleet currently consists of 3 vehicles, and the goal is to replace them with sustainable alternatives by 2022–23.
  5. Adopt green procurement practices by considering environmental factors when planning investments and by including criteria to reduce the footprint of government’s supply chain throughout the procurement life cycle.
  6. Mobilize its employees for further green actions: TBS is committed to promoting and facilitating environmentally sustainable choices and actions to reduce waste and energy consumption. For example, activities that have occurred in the past and that may occur again in the future, depending on the return of employees to the worksite, include Bike to Work Month, the Green Office Challenge, Environment Week and Waste Reduction Week.

As TBS undertakes these and other processes and activities, it is committed to piloting and implementing the sustainable development initiatives that it promotes government-wide.

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