Sharing industry best practices at the heart of new Emissions-Neutral Buildings Information Exchange discussions

via Livewire Calgary by Aryn Toombs

Andrea Linsky, Emissions-Neutral Buildings Director at Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and ENBIX Team Lead, left, Mayor Jyoti Gondek, and Bill Black, CEO of the Calgary Construction Association at the inaugural Emissions-Neutral Buildings Information Exchange (ENBIX) community of practice event at the Calgary Construction Association on Wednesday, February 28, 2024. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Addressing the challenges of creating buildings that are energy efficient, cost-effective to build, and meet the needs of the marketplace is at the forefront of conversation in Calgary’s construction industry.

The Emissions-Neutral Buildings Information Exchange (ENBIX) held their first Communities of Practice event in Calgary on February 28, with the goal of bringing together members of the construction community to put focus on the topic of creating better buildings.

“The idea is that we’re bringing together practitioners in the building industry from across Calgary to really start talking about the barriers, the challenges, the opportunities, the successes that we’ve seen around building emissions, neutral buildings in the region,” said Andrea Linsky, Emissions-Neutral Buildings Director at Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and ENBIX Team Lead

“And giving an opportunity to learn from each other, to bring forward ideas and topics that we want to discuss in more detail and really have time to bring an industry together that might not necessarily always get the chance to talk about these topics.”

She said that the discussions were naturally focused on industry best practices, and sharing information that comes from learning on the go building carbon-neutral buildings that might not otherwise be shared widely.

“There’s a lot of great builders in Calgary who are building really high performance buildings, and they’re learning as they do this. They’ve got [multiple] buildings under their belt, things that they know work, and they’ve sorted through those issues,” Linsky said.

“What we’re hearing from industry is they’re really keen to share that information. We know we have to take big strides getting there, and so by bringing everyone together, we can sort of jump through those hoops faster, hopefully, and start to build faster and cheaper from a cost perspective for the buildings that we need to be building.”

Linsky used the example of best practices in building high-performance buildings.

“We are talking about buildings that are airtight, that have really good insulation, that have efficient mechanical and electrical systems, and that are looking to have on-site renewable energy powering them. When we can’t get it on site, look at other low carbon sources for fueling our heating or cooling buildings,” she said.

“We also have heard from industry that they want us to focus on the materials that we use to build, and to make sure that those are lower embodied carbon or low carbon materials as well. So it’s really the whole package that we’re looking at.”

Interest in conversations growing within industry

Bill Black, CEO of the Calgary Construction Industry said that there has been a growing imperative in the industry to have the kind of conversations that ENBIX was spurring.

“The cost of energy has made energy efficiency a much more important priority than it might have been a decade ago. I think it also takes a while to break down the traditional walls—that’s no pun intended—between industry and end users and consultants, where we tend to get involved late in the process as an industry once all the decisions are made,” he said.

“Very often it’s a sequential way in which we all get involved. The owner gets architects and designers and then contractors get involved. I think what ENBIX realizes in a very functional way, is you need to break down these traditional silos and get all the information experts in the room early enough to make good decisions that will have a great impact on the outcome.”

He said that for a long time, the expertise in constructing energy-efficient buildings has been a bit of a best-kept secret.

“To be able to focus on a huge opportunity to tap into that knowledge is is exciting for us to see, because it’s an opportunity for the industry to contribute in a way that we maybe haven’t had enough chance to do,” Black said.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who attended the inaugural meeting, said that it was an opportunity to continue to work collaboratively with industry, regulators, post-secondaries, and other stakeholders.

“The Calgary Construction Association, as an example, has been excellent at showing up at public hearings and talking about their perspective on whatever it is that we are doing in council chambers, so I greatly value the relationship we have with them. Generally, we’ve had really good engagement from other industry associations and individual members of the industry,” the mayor said.

“We are in continual contact with members of the private sector to make sure we get this right. Anytime we have success in the private sector, too, we are sometimes the first ones to call it out and talk about it and celebrate it. We’ve done that with our conversion program downtown. There is a standing industry and city working group that makes sure that those ideas are exchanged on a regular basis.”

Linsky said that a huge part of the work that the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation has done to launch ENBIX was as a result of municipal support.

“The work that we’ve been doing here today has been supported hugely by the municipalities, both the City of Calgary and City of Edmonton that have within their climate strategies, focusing on having a place for industry to come together and have these discussions.”

Calgary construction professionals are being invited to join further meetings, and the Community of Practice, by getting in contact with ENBIX at

Article by Lena Hogarth
February 29, 2024

Why join the CCA?

See all the benefits

Ready to join the CCA?

Join now