Residential buildings go green

August 30, 2008

Starting this week, every new building constructed in the province must have a green tint to it.

Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Coleman announced last week that green standards for buildings will come into effect Sept. 5.

Every new building in B.C. must meet progressive standards for energy and water efficiency.

“The greening of the B.C. Building Code will provide home buyers with an environmentally sound choice — a home that will have a lower impact on the environment and that will have the added benefit of saving them money on utility fees,” said Coleman.

New homes, multi-family residential buildings under five storeys, and small commercial and industrial buildings must meet new insulation standards. As an alternative, builders can demonstrate equivalent energy performance or achieve an EnerGuide Rating System rating of 77.

Builders can use a combination of building materials and techniques to achieve that EnerGuide rating.

New high-rise residential and larger commercial buildings must meet the criteria of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers ­— internationally recognized standards.

Throughout the province, ultra low-flow toilets and other water saving plumbing fixtures will be mandatory.

It’s all part of the province’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.

The government of B.C. has created a Built Green program specifically for residential construction, says Matthew Hay, owner of Rivendell Development Corp. Rivendell has taken over construction and marketing of a gated adult community on Wiltse Flats called Brentview Estates.

“The world is moving towards green, being friendly to our planet and environment,” said Hay.

“We’re a ‘Built Green’ certified builder. Every home that will be built from now on will be an officially certified Green home.”

Built Green has four categories — bronze, silver, gold and platinum and Brentview homes will be in the bronze category to start. If owners ask for upgrades, the house can rise to the platinum category.

“You decide to put components in the home you’re building and you can get points for each component that has a green impact on the planet and the people who live on it,” explained Hay.

For example, if all ductwork is sealed with a low-toxic sealing system, that’s worth three points. Install an insulating blanket on a hot water tank as per manufacturer’s specifications ­— two points. Use low formaldehyde sub-floor sheathing — three points.

If all windows are ENERGY STAR labeled, add two points. Use recycled materials and add lots more points to your Built Green category.

Once you’ve compiled 72 points, your house will reach the bronze category. If you reach 82 points, your home will be platinum.

“It is my mandate to further the process of Built Green,” said Hay, president of Canadian Home Builders’ Association for the South Okanagan.

“It’s better for our planet.” Many other members of the association are getting on board with the program, he said.

“You decide to put components in the home you’re building and you can get points for each component that has a green impact on the planet and the people who live on it.”

The reason the Built Green program is so powerful is because it gives the home owner many ways to create a positive impact on the environment, he added.

Hay’s father, Keith Hay, is the marketing director for Brentview Estates. “We as an older generation are much more concerned about preserving our planet,” he said. Built Green homes might look the same as other new homes, he said, but over time, they save energy and enhance health.

The Built Green program encourages use of recycled materials for flooring, mouldings and ceramics, installation of heat recovery ventilators, water-based paints and stains, insulation of all water lines, water-saving dishwashers, xeriscape landscaping with drought-tolerant plants and dozens of other ways to preserve energy and the environment.

“We demand high performance from computers, cars, RRSP investments, but not homes,” said Hay.

“Why aren’t we demanding high performance houses? We are a society that demands high performance in every element of our lives except the most important.” Built Green addresses that issue, he added.

“A Built Green home is a high-performance home.”