Zero Emissions Building Exchange

Christian Cianfrone headshot
Christian Cianfrone, ZEBx

The Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) is a collaborative platform and a catalyst for market transformation in buildings. Our mission is to accelerate the implementation of attractive and exemplary zero-emissions buildings at scale. We are a trusted advisor that connects industry to solutions, increases capacity, and drives economic growth in “clean” buildings. We leverage our network and partners to offer opportunities for knowledge exchange, research, and training through a neutral, coordinated lens, from single-family homes to high-rise residential, institutional, and commercial buildings.

Over a decade of working with project teams as a consulting engineer (prior to joining ZEBx), I learned that while homeowners and designers are eager to consider zero-emissions building strategies, they are often restricted by two things: a lack of municipal policies to catalyze innovation, and limited industry knowledge of successful projects locally and globally. 

In 2017, on the road to becoming the greenest city in the world, the city of Vancouver implemented a Zero Emissions Building Plan to support and accelerate the implementation of zero-emissions buildings in a way that prompts project teams to actively pursue low-carbon solutions. The new policies by the city require most new buildings be built and designed to near zero emissions by 2025, and zero emissions by 2030.

With a strong regulatory environment in place, the community needed a centre to convene a community of professionals working in high-performance buildings to address industry knowledge and capacity building. This need was acknowledged by a group of passionate organizations whose efforts later formed the ZEBx. 

With seed funding from the city of Vancouver, the Vancouver Regional Construction Association joined as program host, and OPEN and Passive House Canada signed on as strategic founding partners. ZEBx gained international support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and became part of an international network of high-performance building centres under the UNECE umbrella as the second Centre of Excellence to operate within this network, joining the Building Energy Exchange in New York City, with additional centres under way in Wexford, Ireland; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Brussels, Belgium.

Our organization’s focus is to support the rapid implementation of zero-emissions buildings through technical workshops, dialogue sessions, project tours, technology demonstrations, disseminating research, and compiling case studies. 

In our first year, we organized 60 industry-serving events engaging over 2,000 industry professionals in collaboration with our delivery partner Passive House Canada; collaborated, and established working relationships, with 50 industry influencers; organized an international zero-emissions buildings project tour for industry executives and decision makers in the global leader of high-performance buildings, Brussels, Belgium; and through a research partnership with the University of British Columbia, developed a suite of standardized case studies, all of which take a deep dive into the region’s leading high-performance projects. 

The conditions surrounding high-performance buildings are ripe. We have a policy to help industry build high-performance buildings and a community of early adopters who are eager to implement building innovation. Having an organizing hub, such as ZEBx, create a central space to show case studies and to share experiences and lessons learned will not only rapidly optimize and scale solutions for zero-emissions projects, but will accelerate implementation, practices, and projects.

By bringing together the community of those who are working in high-performance buildings to share ideas and engage in dialogue on a recurring basis, we are creating an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to building industry capacity. In essence (and in practice) we develop a community of people who can learn from each other to figure out the most cost-effective, efficient, and best practices to building zero-emissions buildings. Collaboration is crucial, and how we choose to gather and learn from our leaders today will determine what we are able to accomplish ten years from now.

Christian Cianfrone, Executive Director, ZEBx

Building the Pathway to Net Zero Ready