Concurrent with National Environment Week, Built Green Canada announces its fifth annual challenge to municipalities across the country to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable building practices, to challenge municipalities to encourage green building and to shine a light on those builders leading the way.
The challenge is marked by a growing number of municipalities who have proclaimed June 6 as BUILT GREEN® Day. This includes Campbell River, Chestermere, Comox, Courtenay, Duncan, Edmonton, Estevan, Fort Saskatchewan, Kelowna, Ladysmith, Langford, Moose Jaw, Nanaimo, North Vancouver, Okotoks, Penticton, Port Coquitlam, Prince Albert, Regina, Saanich, Saskatoon, Sooke, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Victoria, Whistler. Meanwhile, others offer their support to BUILT GREEN® Day and sustainable building—Brandon, Grande Prairie, Lacombe, Leduc, Kimberley, Vancouver—and Collingwood has proclaimed Built Green Canada Day. Lethbridge marks the day by lighting up City Hall with green LEDs.
This marks the growing concern faced by public and private industry on climate change and the heightened expectations of the municipality’s role in addressing this social problem. In response to meeting environmental targets, all orders of government are developing climate mitigation strategies, and for those working in the residential building industry, increased energy performance and other standards continue to change.
The increased stringency of codes and standards is increasing costs for the industry: the unintended consequence is the further deterioration of housing affordability. With the intersection of these two social problems, there is possibility for further collaborative actions between government and industry—collaboration that considers the environment, costs and the pace of change—given realizing sustainability targets requires the support of private industry. “This underscores one of our key advantages,” says Jenifer Christenson, Built Green Canada chief executive officer. “We’re industry-driven, offering third-party certification programs for those interested in a holistic approach to sustainable building—and, we’re affordable. We want to see municipalities encourage programs that are economical: for the builder and for the homebuyer.”
When municipalities recognize programs already embraced by builders and developers, they are better able to work with the residential building industry to collectively progress sustainability. There are many who have voluntarily been building sustainably for well over a decade, in some cases going back 15 years. “We want to put the spotlight on those builders who were the earliest adopters of sustainable building, ahead of regulation and market demand. They’ve opted to contribute to climate mitigation, implementing advanced building technologies and verifying their work through our program—through this process, becoming better builders who are able to offer their customers the advantages that go with a third-party certified home.”
Meanwhile, builder participation in a program like Built Green’s can help the municipality reach its environmental targets. Built Green Canada works with its builders to support the successful certification of their builds, assist them in meeting compliance requirements, while its programs offer industry a means to voluntarily stay ahead of code.
While some municipalities are exclusively focused on energy performance, Built Green’s programs are complementary and take a more holistic approach to sustainable building that may reduce the load on civic infrastructure including water, power and waste. Built Green recognizes municipalities may not be able to favour one program over another and therefore encourages municipalities to include its programs, alongside others, as an option to endorse.
BUILT GREEN® Day coincides with Clean Air Day, focused on raising awareness and encouraging action on clean air and climate change issues to contribute to healthier communities and a better quality of life. Likewise, Built Green Canada takes a holistic approach to residential building that integrates Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide label with its Single Family for New Homes and Renovations programs, and goes beyond to include natural resource preservation, pollution reduction, enhanced air quality and ventilation, and improved home durability. To support these programs and green building, the organization is encouraging others to follow this challenge on Twitter: #BuiltGreenDay
Built Green Canada is an industry-driven, national, non-profit organization offering programs for residential building—the organization offers its programs across the country; however, in Ontario, the programs are referred to as “Green Seal”. Since its inception, builders have worked with Built Green to complete over 30,290 certified homes represented in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario—including the units in multi-storey projects, the total is over 33,820. At the end of 2017, the cumulative impact of these single family certified homes translated into more than half a million (505,917.52) tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saved.