June 5, 2019—Concurrent with National Environment Week, Built Green Canada announces its sixth 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 highlight those builders leading the way.
The challenge is marked by a growing number of municipalities who have proclaimed June 5 as BUILT GREEN® Day. This includes Beaumont, Burlington, Campbell River, Central Saanich, Chestermere, Edmonton, Estevan, Fort Saskatchewan, Greater Sudbury, Kelowna, Ladysmith, Langford, Markham, Nanaimo, Okotoks, Port Coquitlam, Prince Albert, Regina, Saanich, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler. Meanwhile, others offer their support for the initiative and sustainable building—Abbotsford, Brandon, Canmore, Courtenay, District of North Vancouver, Golden, Leduc, Moose Jaw, Ottawa—and Lethbridge recognizes the day by lighting up City Hall with green LEDs, while the City of North Vancouver will proclaim BUILT GREEN® Day on June 10th.
This reflects 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, while for those working in the residential building industry, increased energy performance and other regulations continue to change.
The increased stringency of codes and standards is driving costs up 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 chosen to contribute to climate mitigation, implementing advanced building technologies and verifying their work through our program, becoming better builders who are able to offer their customers the advantages that go with a third-party certified home.”
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’ four levels of certification offer industry a means to voluntarily stay ahead of code and incrementally improve in preparation to be net-zero energy ready for 2030 regulations.
Though some municipalities are exclusively focused on energy performance, Built Green’s programs are complementary as they take a more holistic approach 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.
Meanwhile, Built Green Canada has partnered with the Green Builder® Coalition to bring the first performance-based water rating to Canada through the water conservation section of their builder programs. Though parts of Canada, and the world, are increasingly experiencing droughts, and freshwater ecosystems are shown to be under stress, water conservation in the residential building industry has not received the attention energy efficiency has, though they are both connected and significant. The Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) is based on measurable parameters, along with a scoring scale of zero to 100, zero being the most desirable that considers indoor and outdoor water use, as well as reuse via rainwater, greywater and blackwater catchment calculations.
“Industry and all orders of government increasingly are focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and in the residential building sector, the emphasis is on improving the energy performance of buildings,” says Christenson. “While energy efficiency is an essential component of sustainable building practices—and our programs—we want to broaden the conversation and shine a light on a more balanced approach that also includes indoor air quality, waste management, and water conservation—some of the key areas of our programs. Despite Canada’s water endowment, we are not immune to water shortages and periods of drought. Moreover, reductions in water usage will save energy, further contributing to the decrease in GHGs.”
June 5 is World Environment Day, which aims to raise awareness of the environment and specific environmental issues such as drought and wildfire. Likewise, Built Green Canada’s holistic approach to residential building integrates Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide label with its Single Family for New Homes and Renovations programs, and goes beyond energy to include natural resource preservation, pollution reduction, enhanced air quality and ventilation, as well as improved home durability and disaster preparedness. To support green building, the organization is encouraging others to follow this challenge on social media: #BuiltGreenDay. And, if you’re a homebuyer / homeowner, you can contribute to climate mitigation by asking your builder / renovator to certify through a sustainable, third-party program.
Built Green Canada is an industry-driven, national, non-profit organization offering programs for residential building. Since its inception, builders have worked with Built Green to complete over 32,750 certified homes represented in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario—including the units in multi-storey projects, the total is over 36,090. At the end of 2018, the cumulative impact of these single family certified homes translated into more than half a million (588,505.29) tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saved (up to December 31, 2018).
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