Benefits of building Green include lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins which emit harmful Volatile Organic Compounds. Knowing that the lumber used is traceable to responsibly managed forests is Environmentally responsible and an even Deeper Shade of Green (Ottawa Citizen).
Building Green – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
LEED® Canada for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes where the net cost of owning such a home is comparable to that of owning a conventional home. The system attempts to provide national consistency in defining the features of a green home and to enable builders anywhere in the country to obtain a green rating on their homes. It’s a consensus standard for green homebuilding and is part of the comprehensive suite of LEED assessment tools offered by the Canada Green Building Council to promote sustainable design, construction, and operations practices in buildings.
The LEED® Canada for Homes Rating System measures the overall performance of a home in eight categories:
- Innovation & Design Process (ID). Special design methods, unique regional credits, measures not currently addressed in the Rating System, and exemplary performance levels.
- Location & Linkages (LL). The placement of homes in socially and environmentally responsible ways in relation to the larger community.
- Sustainable Sites (SS). The use of the entire property so as to minimize the project’s impact on the site.
- Water Efficiency (WE). Water-efficient practices, both indoor and outdoor.
- Energy & Atmosphere (EA). Energy efficiency, particularly in the building envelope and heating and cooling design.
- Materials & Resources (MR). Efficient utilization of materials, selection of environmentally preferable materials, and minimization of waste during construction.
- Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ). Improvement of indoor air quality by reducing the creation of and exposure to pollutants.
- Awareness & Education (AE). The education of the homeowner, tenant, and/or building manager about the operation and maintenance of the green features of a LEED® home.
The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings:
A recent study by California’s State and Consumer Services Agency concluded that there are indeed financial benefits to green-building design. The sustainability taskforce reviewed the construction costs of 33 green buildings across the U.S. and found that although it costs nearly 2% more on average to construct a green building than one using conventional methods, the cost premium yields savings of more than 10 times the initial investment during the life of a building (approx. 20 years according to the study).