Living Green Roof

It’s Not Easy Being Green (Or is it?)

Achieving Sustainability Affordably in Home Construction:

One of the questions on our new construction and renovation questionnaire is; ‘How important are green initiatives to you?’  This question is met with as much angst as the ‘What is your budget?’ question.

Clients squirm in their chairs like a kid who has to eat his broccoli.  A client’s answer to the green initiatives question may be ‘not very’ today but 10 years from now, with sustainable products and methods becoming more affordable and energy costs becoming more costly, that answer will likely change.  The program I’d like to elaborate on here is the Built Green Program; it offers measurable results in a scalable format.

You can ‘get green’ with your project to whatever level fits your budget and your priorities.  There are several programs world-wide that name building or renovating a home truly measurable.  Unlike many industries that slap the word ‘eco’ before their product and call themselves custodians of the earth, green builders must meet or exceed benchmarks set by third party organizations that are independent of the municipalities that enforce the building code.  It is important to remember that although the Building Code, more and more, addresses energy conservation and overall efficiency; it is the minimum standard by which to build an energy efficient, healthy and safe home.

The Built Green homeowner enjoys many advantages including enhanced and retained home value, increased home durability, and reduced operating costs.  You live in a healthier home with better ventilation, fewer allergens in the air you breathe, low or zero VOC paints, low or formaldehyde free building material, and third party certified floor coverings.

Some of the programs available for third party oversight of the construction of efficient homes include: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), EnergyStar for Homes, R-2000 and Passiv Haus (a European program applied widely across North America.  All have the same general goals in mind, but the program I would like to focus on and am most familiar with is the Built Green Program, owned by Built Green Canada, and managed by the CHBA of BC (The Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia).   The program is voluntary, flexible and affordable.  It requires that its members are trained and training is updated every two years because one thing is for certain; this industry is constantly changing.  It is scalable; the program offers 4 levels of achievement: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.  The level can be ascertained before construction with the implementation of a check-list and assistance from a CEA (Certified Energy Advisor).  A homeowner can choose to spend no more than the average home or attempt the highest rating.  Every build is unique.

Built Green is an industry driven, voluntary program that promotes sustainable building practices to reduce the buildings environmental impact, benefiting the owner, the builder, the community and the environment.  It also involves suppliers, sub-trades, manufacturers, community developers and municipalities.  The primary purpose of the Built Green program is to encourage and enable the use of practises, technologies and products within the residential building sector that will:

  • Provide greater energy efficiency and reduce pollution waste
  • Provide healthier air
  • Reduce water usage
  • Preserve natural resources
  • Improve durability and reduce maintenance

Built Green concentrates on seven areas:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Material and methods
  • Indoor air quality
  • Ventilation
  • Waste management
  • Water management
  • Business practices

The Built Green homeowner enjoys many advantages including enhanced and retained home value, increased home durability, and reduced operating costs.  You live in a healthier home with better ventilation, fewer allergens in the air you breathe, low or zero VOC paints, low or formaldehyde free building material, and third party certified floor coverings. You also have a more comfortable home with airtight rooms, efficient windows, better ventilation with less temperature variation from room to room, less draft, superior energy efficiency, fewer indoor odors, substantial sound reduction from exterior sources, and ‘off the chart’ bragging rights!

To read more go to www.builtgreencanada.ca

NEXT BLOG: 50 SHADES OF GREEN: (house as a system concept)

Further references:
Built Green, Building Training Guide
CHBA-Building Science for Renovations
CHBA-Fortis-House as a System
SolPlan Review (September 2013 issue)