Thank you very much.
Good day, committee members. I'm Greg Smith, the director of the economic analysis division of Natural Resources Canada's Canadian forest service. I'm here representing the trade, economics and industry branch at NRCan.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging that I'm delivering this speech on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
In this discussion today, I'd like to talk a bit about the linkages between the use of wood in buildings, environmental benefits and the Canadian forest bioeconomy.
Lumber has long been used in residential construction, but the use of mass timber and other engineered wood products is gaining traction in Canada and abroad. These wood buildings are renewable, require less energy to manufacture and are able to store carbon for the service life of the buildings, and even beyond if they are reused. These features speak to the benefits of wood building in terms of low embodied carbon and, therefore, to contributions to Canada's net-zero objectives.
A life-cycle emissions analysis of projects funded by the Government of Quebec showed that the carbon embodied in wood buildings is conservatively 20% less than in a functionally equivalent building made with more traditional materials. In some cases, that figure was 50% or even higher.
One of the first tall buildings ever built with mass timber is located at the University of British Columbia, as was noted previously by the honourable former senator. At 18 storeys, the Brock Commons Tallwood House student residence was the tallest wood building in the world at the time of its completion in 2017. The total equivalent carbon dioxide emissions avoided by using wood products instead of other materials in the building was more than 2,400 metric tons. That's equivalent to removing over 500 cars from the road for a year. Brock Commons demonstrates how the increased use of wood in building materials can help reach the Government of Canada's net-zero goals by 2050.
The federal government has recognized that in order to manage emissions in the built environment and increase the acceptance of wood products and systems domestically, it's critical to showcase the use of wood in non-traditional applications and to support a skilled labour force.
Since 2017, the federal green construction through wood program, or GCWood, has shown the innovative use of wood through support for projects like the Brock Commons. In addition, it has supported research and development, technical guidance and work to support the adoption of tall wood buildings into the national building code of Canada. GCWood has also funded the development and provision of training and education programs and resources and tools for professional design and construction communities.
Building with wood is also a priority identified by the federal, provincial and territorial Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, or the CCFM. Through its 2017 bioeconomy framework for Canada, the CCFM identified the need to increase value-added activity in Canada's forest sector. Growing value-added manufacturing is important to enhancing the economic resilience of the forest industry.
While I've been talking about forests in terms of their value as a wood product to this point, the 2017 framework recognizes the importance of standing forests to other things that Canadians value—for example, biodiversity, conservation, sequestering carbon, contributing to landscape and community resilience, human health and cultural well-being. The framework also acknowledges that climate change is putting pressure on wood supply.
By managing what is harvested and getting more economic value out of the wood we do harvest—including through the increased use of mass timber and other wood building systems—we help balance the contribution of Canada's forests to sustainable growth with their contributions to nature, climate and social priorities.
In 2022, the CCFM endorsed a renewed forest bioeconomy framework that identifies high-priority challenges to bioeconomy growth that are relevant across the country. The renewed framework includes actions for jurisdictions to take to help address these challenges. Most relevant to us today is the challenge related to a lack of support for demonstration and scaled-up financing, which are required to prove and commercialize innovative products and technologies, including wood building systems. To address this challenge, the renewed framework identifies the procurement of bioproducts by all orders of government as a responsive action.
In closing, there are significant environmental benefits to building with mass timber and other wood systems, including reducing embodied carbon emissions. Canada is well placed to access these benefits in the future given our innovative forest sector.
I thank you all for having me speak about this issue and wish you all a good day.