Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be appearing before the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in my capacity as assistant deputy minister of real property services at Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC, to discuss the role my organization could play with respect to Bill S-222, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which our head office is located is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. The Algonquin peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial, and we are grateful to be present in this territory.
PSPC manages one of the largest and most diverse portfolios of real estate in the country and is the Government of Canada’s real estate expert. PSPC provides safe, healthy and productive working environments for over 260,000 federal employees across Canada, including accommodation for parliamentarians and a full range of real property services, including the provision of architectural and engineering services.
The spirit and intent of this proposed legislation aligns with the government’s goals of supporting Canadian industry to further develop sustainable materials solutions, including wood products, in the pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment.
I would like to highlight the important work undertaken by PSPC in that regard.
The 2020 greening government strategy requires the government to reduce the environmental impact of structural construction materials by disclosing the amount of embodied carbon in the structural materials for major construction projects. There is also a requirement to reduce the embodied carbon of structural materials of major construction projects by 30% starting in 2025. Implementing tools to support these requirements within PSPC will be a key focus in the coming years.
Public Services and Procurement Canada considers the entire context of a project before starting new construction or rehabilitation projects by analyzing each project on a holistic basis. This approach ensures a balanced review of all of the various requirements, while respecting our commitments to indigenous collaboration, reducing costs, using sustainable materials and meeting our greening and net-zero carbon commitments.
The most recent mandate letter of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement requires that PSPC work with Infrastructure Canada and Natural Resources Canada to put a new buy clean strategy in place to support and prioritize the use of made-in-Canada low-carbon products in Canadian infrastructure projects.
Through its expertise in sustainability and as supplier of procurement, architecture and engineering services and real property assets, PSPC is especially well positioned to have a direct and significant impact on the greening of government operations. PSPC is actively participating in a number of initiatives that support the use of lower-carbon materials in construction projects.
Here are some examples. We are working with the National Research Council of Canada to produce a set of Canadian data on low-carbon building materials to enable informed decision-making through the life cycle assessment initiative and the incorporation of low-carbon requirements in construction and infrastructure projects in Canada. The Canadian National Master Construction Specification was updated in 2021 to include new details on encapsulated mass timber construction.
We are collaborating with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s centre for greening government to support the implementation of reduced embodied carbon in structural materials by developing mandatory requirements and carrying out pilot projects. Discussions are under way with the concrete, steel and wood industries in order to establish reduction targets.
At PSPC, we are always mindful of the materials we source for our infrastructure projects and continue to encourage green innovation.
In conclusion, Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue to lead the way in embedding environmental considerations into its requirements with respect to the construction, modernization, maintenance and repair of federal real property.
At PSPC, our practices allow for the use of wood and other green building materials in accordance with project requirements and in compliance with the health and safety requirements outlined in building codes.
Mr. Tourigny and I are now pleased to answer your questions.