Greening Government Strategy

In Canada and abroad, the effects of climate change are becoming evident. Impacts such as coastal erosion; thawing permafrost; increases in heat waves; droughts and flooding; ecosystem changes; and risks to critical infrastructure; and food and water security are already being felt in Canada and globally. The science is clear that human activities are driving unprecedented changes in the earth’s climate, which pose significant risks to human health, security, and economic growth.

Response to climate change requires action to:

  1. reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere and
  2. increase the resiliency of assets, services, and operations to adapt to the changing climate.

Greening government operations will support Canada’s sustainability goals already established under the Paris Agreement on climate change and in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. This Greening Government Strategy is consistent with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.


The Government of Canada will transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient operations, while also reducing environmental impacts beyond carbon. Led by the Centre for Greening Government of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Government of Canada will ensure that Canada is 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 fleet.
  • Climate resilient assets, services, and operations.
  • Green goods and services.

The Centre for Greening Government

“Supporting climate action and sustainability in government operations”

The mandate of the Centre for Greening Government is to provide leadership towards low-carbon, resilient and green Government of Canada operations. The Centre will:

  • lead and coordinate the federal emissions reduction, resiliency and greening government initiatives;
  • integrate knowledge from other leading organizations and share best practices broadly;
  • track and disclose government environmental performance information centrally;
  • drive results to meet greening government environmental objectives.

The Centre will work with departments See Footnote 1 to implement the government’s Greening Government Strategy.


Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) GHG emissions from government operations

  • The Government of Canada will reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 See Footnote 2 GHG emissions from federal government facilities and fleets by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050:
    • On this pathway, the government will reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, with an aspiration to achieve this target by 2025.
    • Both targets include the use of renewable electricity generated on-site or purchased off-site to reduce Scope 2 GHG emissions from electricity use. See Footnote 3 There is a preference, but not a requirement, to buy electricity in the province or territory in which it is consumed.
    • Clean power to reduce Scope 1 GHG emissions may also be produced or purchased off-site. See Footnote 4
    • Achieving the 80% Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions reduction target does not include the use of carbon offsets.

Indirect (Scope 3 See Footnote 5) GHG emissions from government operations

  • The Government of Canada will track emissions from air travel by public service employees by the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year and promote lower-carbon alternatives to work-related air travel.
  • Emissions from new leased facilities and renewed leases will be tracked starting in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. The majority of emissions from leased facilities will be reported by 2025. The government will demonstrate leadership by ensuring that new leases include improved energy See Footnote 6 and sustainability performance standards.
  • The Centre will encourage employees to use low-carbon forms of transportation to reduce emissions from employee commuting and will track these emissions by the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year.
  • Through greening procurement, the government will reduce emissions intensity from the goods and services it purchases.

National safety and security GHG emissions from government operations

Consistent with practices in other jurisdictions, some GHG emissions are excluded from the Government of Canada’s GHG emissions reduction target for safety and security reasons. Examples are emissions from military, coast guard or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police operations. These national safety and security related emissions will be tracked and publicly disclosed.

Alternative energy options will be examined to potentially reduce emissions through new technologies, operational efficiencies and other innovative processes.

Real property

The government is committed to implementing green building principles, and ensuring the sustainability and resiliency of its real property portfolio.

Low carbon

Departments that have the highest GHG emissions will undertake a strategic evaluation of their real property portfolios to determine the most cost-effective pathway to achieve low-carbon operations and meet the government’s targets. In addition, departments:

  • will evaluate their real property needs to determine opportunities for portfolio rationalization, optimal real property management, and shared locations and facilities;
  • will be early adopters of building standards to be established through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change – for example, a net zero energy ready building code will be published in 2022;
  • will ensure that all new buildings and major building retrofits prioritize low carbon investments based on integrated design principles, and life-cycle and total cost of ownership assessments which incorporate “shadow carbon pricing”; See Footnote 7
    • all new buildings should be constructed to be “net-zero carbon ready” See Footnote 8 starting at the latest in 2022.
  • will use 100% clean electricity by 2025, as set out in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, by producing or purchasing megawatt hours of renewable electricity equivalent to that produced by the high-carbon portion of the electricity grid;
  • should meter energy use and report energy use intensity by 2022 for government-owned buildings of no less than 1,000 square metres. See Footnote 9


The government will reduce its water consumption and its load on municipal systems by:

  • tracking and disclosing its potable water consumption by 2022;
  • using best-in-class water-use practices in new construction and major renovations; See Footnote 10
  • designing all new Crown-owned buildings to effectively manage storm water.


The government will reduce the environmental impact of building materials using life-cycle assessment techniques to:

  • minimize embodied carbon See Footnote 11 and the use of harmful materials in construction and renovation.


The government will take steps to reduce the environmental impact of waste by:

  • diverting at least 75% by weight of all non-hazardous operational waste by 2030; See Footnote 12
  • diverting at least 90% by weight of all construction and demolition waste and striving to achieve 100% by 2030;
  • minimizing environmentally harmful and hazardous chemicals and materials used and disposed of in real property operations.

Real property operations

The government will manage its real property portfolios using the principles of sustainable development to maximize their energy and resource efficiency.

  • Departments will deploy technologies and implement procedures to manage building operations and take advantage of programs to improve building performance.

Mobility and fleets

The government will adopt low-carbon mobility solutions, deploy supporting infrastructure in its facilities, and modernize its fleet as follows:

  • Starting in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 75% of new light-duty administrative See Footnote 13 fleet vehicle purchases will be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) See Footnote 14 or hybrid, See Footnote 15 with the objective that the government’s administrative fleet comprises at least 80% ZEVs by 2030. Priority is to be given to purchasing ZEVs. See Footnote 16
  • Starting in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, all new executive vehicle purchases will be ZEVs or hybrids.
  • Fleet management will be optimized including by applying telematics to collect and analyze vehicle usage data on vehicles scheduled to be replaced.
  • Alternative energy options and their potential use in fleet operations related to national safety and security will be examined.

Adaptation to climate change

The Government of Canada is committed to becoming a leader in climate change resiliency. Consistent with the Federal Adaptation Policy Framework, departments will:

  • understand and address the wide range of climate change impacts that could potentially affect federal assets, services and operations across the country;
  • minimize service disruptions, incorporate climate change impacts in business continuity planning, and explore how climate change impacts and adaptation can be integrated into program design and delivery considerations;
  • incorporate climate-resilient design and delivery into all major real property projects;
  • adopt climate-resilient building codes being developed by National Research Council Canada;
  • incorporate adaptation in departmental risk planning or equivalent processes.


The government will aid the transition to a low-carbon economy through green procurement and the adoption of clean technologies and green products and services by:

  • integrating sustainability and life-cycle assessment principles in procurement policies and practices, including the government’s supply chain;
  • working with major suppliers to encourage the disclosure of their GHG emissions and environmental performance information;
  • supporting departments in adopting clean technology and clean technology demonstration projects;
  • increasing training and support on green procurement to public service employees.

Sustainability partnerships

As part of its greening strategy, the government will focus on the well-being of its employees and communities in which it operates by:

  • creating sustainable workplaces and mobilizing employees on greening government;
  • supporting strategic initiatives across government to contribute to a low-carbon economy;
  • working with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous peoples, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations to achieve common environmental goals;
  • integrating sustainability planning with local communities, working with partners, and establishing communities of practice.


The Government of Canada will:

  • align relevant government operations policies to further incorporate greening and climate resilience;
  • incorporate greening priorities into the responsibilities of senior department officials who would ensure that greening, low-carbon and adaptation are addressed comprehensively in both planning and operations;
  • require departments to include the future (shadow) price of carbon in major real property investment decisions in order to deliver value for money by putting a cost on avoided emissions.

Oversight and performance measurement

The Government of Canada will ensure accountability for the government’s environmental performance and is committed to the principles of transparency and open data.

In order to ensure oversight, the Centre will:

  • publicly disclose detailed environmental performance information on government operations, including a complete inventory of federal GHG emissions and energy use on the Centre’s website;
  • issue an annual call letter to departments to request the submission of departmental performance information on Greening Government Strategy commitments (as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, departments will continue to report on their progress through their Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies);
  • develop additional guidance for departments to strengthen integration of low carbon, climate resilience and green considerations in investment planning;
  • update the Treasury Board submission template and guidance to confirm that departments have taken into consideration a climate change lens;
  • explore integrating a climate change lens in assessing performance of management practices of the Government of Canada through the Management Accountability Framework.

The government will establish reporting requirements based on internationally accepted practices and standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards, to enhance the comparability and quality of reported information, thereby enabling greater transparency and accountability of departments.


Acting on climate change will reduce risks and create new economic opportunities and good jobs for Canadians. There is already a global market for low-carbon goods and services worth over $5.8 trillion, which is projected to keep growing at a rate of 3% per year. Through the deployment and promotion of innovative technologies that address climate change, the Government of Canada will contribute to the global competitiveness of the Canadian clean technology sector.

The government is one of the largest real property owners in Canada; ongoing greening of federal Crown-owned assets will support the development of the green building industry. Investments in clean electricity will contribute to both reductions in GHG emissions from federal operations and to renewable power development in Canada.

Through increased resource productivity and decoupling GHG emissions from its operations, the government will contribute to low-carbon environmentally responsible growth and to maintaining our ecosystems.

A focus on sustainability will help the government become an employer of choice, and contributions to wellness will increase productivity and attract and retain public servants. Broad based approaches to sustainability integrated into the community will support the effective achievement of common goals.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2017,
ISSN: 978-0-660-24164-7

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