Calgary Program Speeds Up Permits for High-Performance Buildings




A program run by the City of Calgary called the Green Buildings Priority Stream encourages developers and builders to construct high-performance and energy-efficient buildings by helping speed up permit applications.

City of Calgary’s Senior Planner, Angelique Dean,  joined our Emissions-Neutral Buildings Information Exchange (ENBIX) Calgary Community of Practice on May 28, 2024. Angelique did a presentation about the City’s Green Buildings Priority Stream program. 

Below are key details about the program we gathered from the presentation, including its purpose and eligibility criteria.

The Green Buildings Priority Stream Program

This City of Calgary program was launched in 2023 to celebrate and encourage builders who are constructing high-performance and energy-efficient buildings and to provide a faster, more streamlined process for development and building permit applications.

What’s included? Program participants receive support from the  City of Calgary throughout the project review and approval stages. They will also receive faster permit reviews than projects outside the program. Some participants will receive promotion on

Who can participate? The program is open to new Part 3 and Part 9 construction projects (see building classification guide), including mixed-use development, industrial buildings, institutional buildings, and multi-unit residential buildings.

So far, 1,011 residential units and 7,413 m² commercial/institutional space have been accepted into the program. Some examples of successful applications include:

  • An affordable, multi-unit residential building
  • A net zero bank branch
  • The renovation and expansion of a recreational facility
Program Entry Pathways

To be considered for this program, applicants’ building plans must follow one of the seven “program entry pathways,” which are different standards or certification levels regarding building energy performance. If a builder’s design meets one of the standards, they are eligible to apply.

Pathway #1: National Energy Building (NECB) code 2017

This pathway, which will be updated to the NECB 2020 (Tier 2) in the future, applies to Part 3 (commercial, industrial, and institutional) buildings that are built to use 25% less energy and emit 50% less emissions than a minimum-code built building.

For more information on the new building codes, see our blog.

This pathway, which will be updated to the NBC 2023 (Tier 3) in the future, applies to Part 9 (residential) buildings that consume 30% less energy and emit 60% less emissions than a minimum-code built building.

This pathway is relevant to residential projects that meet the performance requirements of the Net Zero Home Label Program managed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). “Net Zero” refers to homes that produce as much energy as they consume annually, using on-site renewable energy systems such as solar panels.

This is the same as Pathway #3 (Net Zero Home Label), except the renewable energy system has not yet been installed. However, the home is designed and constructed so that a renewable energy system like solar panels can be easily installed at a later date. Therefore, it is “ready” to be Net Zero.

Passive House Canada manages a certification program that can be applied to any building type. The concept of “Passive House” or “Passivhaus” is used worldwide and is based on the principles of a well-insulated and tightly sealed building envelope, with ventilation and high-performance windows.

Click here for a list of FAQs about Passive House. 

This pathway is similar to #5, however it is managed by the US Passive House organization (known as Phius) rather than the Canadian one.

The Zero Carbon Building standard, managed by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), is relevant to Part 3 buildings. “Zero-carbon” is defined as a building that is highly energy efficient and minimizes emissions from building materials and operations. A zero-carbon building produces renewable energy onsite and, until it can completely eliminate emissions, uses high-quality carbon offsets. Offsets can be off-site renewable energy or a credit that can be purchased that compensates for the emissions associated with both building materials and operations.

Learn More About the Program

ENBIX and the Green Buildings Priority Stream

ENBIX is dedicated to sharing information and supporting the transition to emissions-neutral building practices. ENBIX does not have a direct relationship with the program, however, the Green Buildings Priority Stream is one example of a program designed to encourage higher-performing buildings in Alberta.

ENBIX celebrates and showcases leaders, projects and initiatives. The projects featured in the Green Buildings Priority Stream are examples of leading projects on the pathway to emissions-neutral buildings.

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