What is a greener home?
A greener home has a lesser impact on the environment in its construction and/or operation than its conventional cousin by featuring a combination of the following features in varying degrees:
Click here for a more complete summary of the benefits of greener homes.
New and existing homes and properties come in various shades of green, from light to dark, depending on the combination and degree of features they possess or have potential for. There are numerous programs, incentives and tools available to assist homeowners and builders in taking incremental steps to green their homes and properties. REALTORS® can help clients identify these steps and related professionals, such as certified energy advisors, as well as provide guides to assess the greenness of a home.
According to federal Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, "There are more than 13 million homes and 380,000 buildings in this country. They use 30 per cent of our energy and are responsible for almost 30 per cent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to NRCan, only 1-2% of Canada’s housing supply is built new each year. Therefore, an important step to reduce the environmental impact of Canadian households and their energy use is to make existing homes greener and more energy efficient.
In 2006, Greenspace Magazine, published by Business in Vancouver, reported that 92% of Canadians supported the introduction of mandatory standards for new buildings and appliances to improve energy efficiency within ten years. Eighty-two per cent supported walkable cities with higher densities (based on a survey of 2,500 people by McAlister Opinion Research).
Certification/Ratings for Existing Homes
ENERGY STAR (US) - Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a national program in the US. The program offers a whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home, while helping to protect the environment.
REGREEN (US) – US Green Building Council and the Society of Interior Designers Foundation have partnered to create the first US nationwide green residential remodeling guidelines for existing homes. The guidelines, comprised of best practices using a “whole-house” approach are available for free download.
Certification/Ratings for New Homes
Most certified or “truly” green homes are built new and often meet construction and operating standards set out by various certifying groups.
BC Hydro Power Smart - The Power Smart New Home Program encourages builders and developers to incorporate energy-efficient products and design into new home construction and utilizes the EnerGuide label. To achieve a Power Smart Gold label, the house must achieve at least EnerGuide 80. A Power Smart Gold labeled home uses 30% less energy than a conventional home.
Additional Canadian Regional Residential Energy Efficiency Initiatives - These initiatives set up guidelines and standards for home builders to achieve so they can reach a minimum EnerGuide rating. Through these initiatives, builders are able to create homes that are consistently more energy efficient. Once a home has been built according to the initiative's specifications, the homeowner receives a certificate and/or home label that identifies the home as being built to the regional energy efficiency standard.
Additional American Programs - More than 70 local or regional green home building programs exist in the United States. Each of these programs is unique, with its own specifications and requirements.
Green Buildings (Commercial)
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations version 1.0 is an adaptation of the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEED®), tailored specifically for Canadian climates, construction practices and regulations. It was adapted from the USGBC's LEED-NC® 2.1 and influenced by anticipated changes planned for version 2.2. The prerequisites and credits are organized in the five principal LEED® categories:
LEED® for Commercial Interiors (LEED®_CI) is the green benchmark for the tenant improvement market. It is the recognized system for certifying high-performance green interiors that are healthy, productive places to work; are less costly to operate and maintain; and have a reduced environmental footprint. LEED for Commercial Interiors gives the power to make sustainable choices to tenants and designers, who do not always have control over whole building operations.
Operation Standards - Commercial
BOMA Go Green - BOMA Go Green is a Canadian environmental certification program originally created by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) BC and now under the auspices of BOMA Canada. A voluntary real estate industry program, Go Green was first launched in Vancouver in 2003. The Go Green designation is awarded to buildings demonstrating compliance with 10 key measures of good practice in the following areas:
The LEED® for Existing Buildings Rating System - Currently helps US building owners and operators measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. LEED® for Existing Buildings addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades. It can be applied to existing buildings seeking LEED® certification for the first time and to projects previously certified under LEED® for New Construction or Core & Shell.
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