Built Green Canada is holding its sixth annual challenge to municipalities across the country to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable building.
There is growing concern regarding climate change in both public and private industry and there are 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.
Builder participation in a program like Built Green's can help a 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 favor 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 BuilderR Coalition to bring the first performance-based water rating to Canada through the water conservation section of their builder programs.
"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."