Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk to members of the committee about Bill C-354. I will speak on behalf of the Quebec Forest Industry Council.
I run the program of the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois (Cecobois) in Quebec. This organization was born in 2007 out of the Government of Quebec's desire to diversify Quebec's forestry economy. The rest of the country was experiencing the same problems.
As you know, in 2007, Canada's forest industry faced an unprecedented economic crisis. To maintain jobs in the regions, the government set up a consultation process on the diversification of the forest industry. Soon, the non-residential construction market emerged.
Let me explain. When I talk about non-residential construction, I'm referring to everything other than single-family homes, where 99% of the wood is used. The single-family housing market is experiencing a sharp decline, in favour of the multi-family housing sector. Wood may become an increasingly important material in non-residential sectors. So I mean institutional construction projects, such as schools, the commercial sector and multi-family housing.
Cecobois' mandate is to provide technical services and communication tools to architects and engineers to help them integrate wood in construction. It must also be noted that Canadian universities do not teach the use of wood as a building material. We do a lot of work to get professors to offer those courses, so that students in civil engineering or architecture can have training on all materials that can be used in construction, such as concrete and steel but also wood.
Cecobois has been around for 10 years. We have become involved with students, professors and professionals to help them, which has significantly helped increase the wood market in Quebec. Every two years, we will see the progress made in this market. In 2001, wood was used in non-residential construction about 15% of the time. A recent study published in September 2017 demonstrates that, in 2016, the wood market share in that sector had reached 28%. The figure was confirmed by a survey of engineers and architects.
According to the same survey, 40% of engineers and architects said that they intended to use wood for the main structure of the buildings they wanted to build. There is still a lot of work to be done to amend the code, although some amendments have already been made. We know that the process is very long. People in the forest industry, Cecobois and the Canadian Wood Council do not want to cut corners. We want to make sure that changes to the code will be based on technical and scientific data. Regulatory authorities, whether Canadian or provincial, must take action to ensure that wood is recognized as a building material.
Earlier, I mentioned the transformation of the market in terms of the use of wood. In 2001, single-family home construction accounted for over 60% of the Canadian housing market. The market has changed a great deal. Today, 73% of construction in the housing sector is multi-family dwellings. We must diversify our designs and use different types of materials to reduce the environmental footprint of those buildings. They significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which the federal government and other governments are committed to reducing.
Wood has a number of advantages. By using wood, we reduce the environmental footprint of buildings and we store carbon. This is recognized by a number of international agencies. As early as 2007, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that the forest sector in general could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gases, when they are stored by trees during their growth or when they are sequestered throughout the life of the building.
I am going to follow up on Ms. O'Connor's comments on the life cycle analysis.
A number of those studies show that wood sequesters more carbon than other materials, and even has a positive carbon footprint. To this end, let me refer to a study that compares beams made of different materials, but able to support the same load, so having the same mechanical strength in use. One cubic metre of wood emits 60 kilograms of carbon, compared to 345 kilograms for the same volume of concrete and 252 kilograms for steel. You calculate the ratio, but it is clearly established. These are studies by internationally recognized third parties.
Furthermore, wood has very positive effects on people's health, which has been demonstrated in several international studies. I am talking about a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, and also a marked decrease in the recovery period. In the workplace, wood, which is a natural element, promotes creativity. In schools, it stimulates concentration and attention, while decreasing the aggressiveness of the occupants. Those effects are very appealing.
To explain why we are in favour of a form of wood charter at the federal level, I would like to talk about what has been done in Quebec.
In 2015, the Government of Quebec recognized the Wood Charter as a political commitment, which raised the awareness of government stakeholders and brought them together to reflect on the increased use of wood in public buildings. It seems that this had a major impact on what happened next.
The Wood Charter states that, in every project financed by public funds, the project manager must consider the possibility of using wood. It does not say that wood must be used, but that it must be considered as a building material. A few days ago, Minister Blanchette confirmed that more than 54% of the 188 projects identified had incorporated wood in the final design, which is very interesting. Furthermore, 75% of those projects used wood for the structure, and the others used it as a material for cosmetic purposes.
Why promote wood in Quebec and Canada? It is a local resource that helps create jobs along the entire value chain in rural communities in all provinces. In addition, many entrepreneurs have taken up the challenge of designing new products to help designers create high performance buildings with a reduced environmental footprint.
We say yes to Bill C-354, which we think seeks to be a policy to use wood. This bill recognizes the benefits of wood for economic development, but also its positive effects, especially on the quality of life of the occupants. It also addresses Canadians' need for greater use of wood. The bill builds on what is already being done in several provinces, including Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. I also know that Nova Scotia is considering a similar program.
In response to the remarks by Ms. O'Connor and the representatives from the Cement Association of Canada, I would like to point out that we must promote wood, but not under any conditions.
We must quickly improve the normative environment so that the choice of materials is guided more by their carbon footprint, energy efficiency and embodied energy for the life of a building.
At the same time, it is important to promote the adoption of green technologies and solutions. Your government is very committed to that. We are talking about buildings with an environmental footprint that is much more carbon-efficient. You are involved in the construction of high-rise buildings; we must demonstrate that wood can be an effective and efficient material.
Furthermore, the appearance wood market, architectural woodwork, employs tens of thousands of people in Canada. It is a popular market for architects and engineers who want to use those materials. For us, this is a very attractive area in which we want to continue to design new products.
Wood represents a very good opportunity for regional economic development. Let me give you some significant figures. A cubic metre of wood in a plant's yard is worth about $69, but when it is converted into structural products installed in a building, such as cross-laminated timber, it is worth more than $2,200. By increasing the value of wood from $69 to $2,200, wealth is created in all regions of Quebec and all along the value chain, in addition to reducing the environmental footprint of buildings.
That brings me to the end of my presentation.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.