Built Green Canada is a non-profit organization with environmental certification programs for residential builders. Calgary-based builder Jay Westman, with Canadian Home Builders‘ Association-Calgary Region, founded Built Green Canada in 2003
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. Using the Built Green program in Colorado as a model, which was later customized to be relevant to the Canadian market. With input from industry professionals, such as builders, manufacturers, developers, and trades, along with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), SAIT Polytechnic, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Alberta Research Council and Climate Change Central, the organization was formed.
The organization started with Alberta members, then expanded into British Columbia. As of 2014, it gained its first Saskatchewan- and Manitoba-based members. It has a Board of Directors, a Technical Standards Committee, and the office (now headquartered in Edmonton). The organization has certified over 25,290 BUILT GREEN® homes represented in Alberta
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, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, and including the units in multi-storey, the total is 27,250 (as of December 2015). In Ontario, the program is referred to as „Green Seal“. In 2007, Built Green Canada was recognized with an Emerald Award
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, in partnership with SAIT and Enervision, which „celebrate[s] and inspire[s] environmental excellence“. Builders‘ BUILT GREEN® homes have also been recognized for their environmental conscious design.
Sustainable building, or green building
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, has become increasingly popular, both for the environmentally conscious builder and for those responding to consumer demand. Various programs have developed to encourage and guide builders through the sustainable construction of their homes. These range from energy-focused programs, such as ENERGY STAR, to programs that include green features exceeding energy requirements, such as Built Green Canada, R-2000, Net Zero, LEED, and Passive House. National organizations, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Genworth Financial Canada recognize energy efficient homes with rebates for homeowners.
Building homes has a considerable impact on the environment from natural resource use to landfill waste to production of greenhouse gases. Housing also accounts for a substantial amount of energy use in Canadian homes: 17%. With these green building programs focused on reducing builders‘ and homeowners‘ environmental footprint, accumulatively, they have the potential to drastically reduce wide-scale energy use and foster sustainable building practices. For the homeowner, these programs help them qualify for incentive programs, mortgage rebates and insurance premiums, and lower utility bills through reduced energy and water use. Affordability, relating to home ownership, continues to be a serious concern for industry and homeowners, because, as the Canadian Home Builders‘ Association says, „[n]ew home prices are being driven higher by government actions, particularly at the municipal and provincial levels.“ Many municipalities have departments or strategies focused on sustainable growth, some of which include the endorsement of environmental programs such as those of Built Green Canada
Built Green Canada is based in the residential building sector and has programs for Single Family, High Density, and a Renovations program in pilot and a Communities program under development. The program is based on a dual-label process; the EnerGuide label through Natural Resources Canada forms the first, and the BUILT GREEN® Checklist forms the second. This second measurement is determined by the builders‘ selections chosen from the checklist.
The BUILT GREEN® program contains seven categories: energy efficiency; materials and methods
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; indoor air quality; ventilation; waste management; water management; and business practices. These areas are represented in a checklist, which builder members use to calculate points towards certification in the program; there are four levels of achievement: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Program Guides complement the checklists and expand on the Checklist action items (180+ items for Single Family, 200+ for High Density, and 300+ for Renovations) to include their associated benefits, and provides a list of relevant resources.
Prior to a home certification, projects receive an EnerGuide label and undergo quality assurance checks. A selection of homes go through the Single Family Verification check, and any of those that are rejected go through an audit. All High Density projects have a BUILT GREEN® High Density Verifier who works alongside the builder. Once the project is submitted, a third-party audit is undertaken. Builders have the option of affixing plaques showcasing certification in, around, or on the home; however, many homes built in the program do not have plaques to distinguish them by, though the program’s seal may be found on the home’s furnace or homeowner’s manual.