Bringing Climate into Focus through the Climate Lens

Bringing Climate into Focus through the Climate Lens 600 392 Mantle

Funding opportunities from Infrastructure Canada require projects to understand their climate change risks, resilience strategies, and GHG emissions.

Over the next 12 years, Infrastructure Canada (INFC) expects to fund more than $180 million in projects. $33 billion of the funding will be available for projects through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), as indicated in Figure 1.[1]Figure 1: Funding streams for Investing in Canada Infrastructure program

Additional funding will be available for projects that are eligible for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and Smart Cities Challenge. The Climate Lens is a requirement of all of these programs intended to: facilitate behavioural change, measure performance to inform evidence-based policy, and improving public awareness, transparency and accountability. It is designed to support climate-focused planning by requiring INFC-supported projects to conduct the following:

  • Climate Change Resilience Assessment: risk management approach to anticipate, prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from climate change-related impacts; and/or
  • GHG Mitigation Assessment: measurement of the anticipated GHG emissions impact of a project.

Application of the Climate Lens is intended to promote consideration of climate impacts in the planning of infrastructure projects and encourage behavioural change that will help Canada achieve its mid-century goal of a clean growth low-carbon economy. Figure 2 summarizes the climate lens requirements for INFC’s programs and streams.

 Figure 2: Climate Lens requirements for Infrastructure Canada’s funding streams

Approaching climate change resilience assessments using recognized methodologies

The Climate Change Resilience Assessment includes an analysis of future climate conditions and risk treatment, with the objective of building resilience to future climate conditions and impacts through designing, locating or re-locating, retrofitting, upgrading and enabling planned operation.

The assessment follows ISO 31000:2009 on Risk Management, where the general approach outlined in Figure 3, and can be conducted using methodologies described in Table 1, below.

Table 1: Climate Change Resilience Assessment Methodologies

Methodology Description Example
Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee(PIEVC) Protocol PIEVC reviews historical climate data and projects the nature, severity and probability of future climate events. The adaptive capacity of an individual infrastructure as determined by its design, operation and maintenance is identified. The severity of climate impacts on each component of the infrastructure is determined to identify higher risk components.[2] An example of an assessment is the

Toronto Hydro-electric system Limited Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment – Distribution Sector.


More assessments can be found here.

Envision Envision is a framework that provides industry-wide sustainability metrics for all types and sizes of infrastructure. This helps users assess and measure the extent to which their project contributes to the full range of social, economic, and environmental indicators.[3] The first Envision award in Canada was for the Grand Bend Area Wastewater Treatment Facility in 2015. Montreal’s Champlain Bridge Corridor earned its platinum award in 2018.

More awards can be searched here.

The Standard for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure(SuRe) SuRe is a global voluntary standard which integrates key criteria of sustainability and resilience into infrastructure development and upgrade, through 14 themes covering 61 criteria across governance, social and environmental factors.[4] Certified projects will be listed here in the future.

Develop decision-useful GHG emissions data to inform infrastructure project planning

The GHG Mitigation Assessment will quantify the project’s anticipated direct and significant indirect GHG emissions impact. This is done by calculating the lifetime emissions associated with the project and a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, guided by ISO 14064-2: Specification with Guidance at the Project Level for Quantification, Monitoring, and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions or Removal Enhancements(reference core principles shown below), supplemented by guidance from the GHG Protocol for Project Accounting.

Table 2: ISO 14064-2 Core Principles[5]

Opportunities in GHG mitigation that can be considered during the assessment include1:

  • Implementation of energy efficiency strategies through reduced consumption or increased efficiency
  • Improving waste management practices
  • Transitioning to non-emitting or carbon neutral electricity sources
  • Electrification of transit and transportation
  • Heating / cooling / ventilating buildings with electricity
  • Offsetting emissions with natural carbon sinks

Although construction, operation and maintenance emissions are the focus of the assessment, there is an opportunity for those interested in pursuing a more robust analysis to include supply chain emissions in the scope, which highlights the benefits of green procurement strategies[6]. Supply chain emissions (also known as embodied carbon emissions) can be quantified using a methodology called Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). LCA quantifies the environmental impacts associated with a product or service through all phases of its life cycle (including for example, raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal).

Whole-life Carbon = Operating Carbon + Embodied Carbon

As buildings become more energy efficient, a growing importance is placed on embodied carbon, which captures the emissions life cycle phases from raw material extraction, manufacture, transportation, construction activities, rehabilitation, maintenance, and ‘end of life’ processes such as disassembly, recycling and landfilling.

LCA can be used to identify lower-carbon material options during the project design stage. Supply chain emissions-related information can then inform and enable future projects to conduct a more robust GHG emissions calculations and allow for better decision-making during design and procurement.

For further reading from our team, you can review our portfolio and publication on Embodied Carbon in Construction: Policy Primer for Ontario.

To learn more about how we can help you conduct any of the assessments, please contact us.

[1]Infrastructure Canada. Webinar on Climate Lens. November 20, 2018.

[2]PIEVC. The Protocol. 2019

[3]Sustainable Infrastructure. Envision. 2019

[4]Gib Foundation. SuRe Standard.2019

[5]NL Offset System Design Report

[6]Refer to Section 2.4 Timescale/ Forecast Window of the Climate Lens General Guidance2018.