What Does it mean to be Green?
Q & A
Green and sustainable housing in the 1970’s was probably a log cabin in the woods.
Today there are certified housing programs for Canadian Green Builders and purchasers.
Green homes have significantly lower energy needs than conventional housing and are built with many products that have recycled content, come from sustainable resources, and can be sourced locally.
straw bales or rammed Earth and have few windows?
Green Homes can look like any conventional home. Earth Sheltered homes and other less conventional building methods have many Green benefits. However, homes with conventional design that meet the requirements are certified under the various building programs as Energy Efficient and Green, everyday.
The most notable programs are Built Green Canada, R2000, EnerGuide, and Leed.
Leed is a building program, started in the US and has been in Canada since 2002. It promotes sustainability, energy efficiency and healthy indoor environments. Leed has made a significant impact on commercial building and is not yet as successful in residential construction in Canada.
Built Green was started in 2003 as a 3rd party certified, energy efficient and environmentally responsible new home construction program. It is a very flexible program that encourages choice and variety in achieving its goals. There are 4 levels of certification, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Energy efficiency, environmental responsibility and healthy indoor environments are promoted.
R2000 has been Canada’s premier Green building program since the 1980’s. Sponsored by Natural Resources Canada, R2000 is a 3rd party certified, energy efficient and environmentally responsible new home construction program. Every R2000 home must be built to an exacting standard that exceeds Leed and Built Green Platinum.
Energuide is an official Government of Canada rating system for energy efficiency in Canadian housing. Licensed Energy Advisors analyze new homes with the help of specialized software to give a rating of energy efficiency. The program is of great benefit as a builder and homeowner can modify their plans with the help of the Advisor to achieve the best possible rating for their individual budget. R2000 and Built Green both include this service.
In the building programs above energy efficiency is achieved by treating each house as a system. The following 3 elements are mandatory for the system to work.
– First, the exterior walls, ceiling and bottom floor of the home are properly insulated and draft-proofed to keep the heat in. This usually means a bit more insulation and greater attention to sealing the air leaks that allow warm air to escape and cold air to enter.
– Second, a ventilation system with heat recovery is installed to provide fresh air to every living area of the home and exhaust the stale, humid air from kitchens and baths. This system runs 24 hours a day providing excellent indoor air quality while recovering heat usually lost through conventional random ventilation.
– Third, highly efficient heating systems are installed.
NO. Air tight, properly ventilated homes are very healthy. Most conventional homes rely on random air leaks to supply fresh air to the living environment while the humid stale air is occasionally exhausted with fans or through leaks into the walls and ceilings. This random ventilation often leads to high humidity, mould, cold rooms and moisture problems in exterior walls and ceilings.
First and foremost homeowners say COMFORT. Surveys have been done of R2000 homes for over 30 years. The top benefit is always comfort. Fresh, clean, dust free, healthy, evenly heated and quiet are the most common comments. Energy Efficiency and environmental responsibility may have been the reason to build Green but is second to the experience.