An Industry Statesman: Driving an Industry toward Sustainability


In the early 2000s many industries began to recognize public support for “green” products. Leaders in the building sector began utilizing sustainable technology and becoming involved in green building programs. Jay Westman, President and CEO of Jayman BUILT® in Calgary, went a step further and imported then reworked a green building program that would become known as Built Green Canada.

Jay believed that a green building program could work in Alberta, but to be effective, it would have to be industry-driven. With CHBA Calgary, he committed to the development and launch of such a program and had one of his people, David Bengert, spearhead the project. With input from industry professionals, such as builders, manufacturers, developers, and trades, along with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), SAIT Polytechnic, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), and the Alberta Research Council and Climate Change Central, by 2003 the organization was formed.


There was—and continues to be—a program in Colorado by the name Built Green; this is the model Bengert started with, and molded into something that would work in Alberta, and soon to be Canada. Eleven years and well over twenty thousand homes later, Built Green Canada is a national, non-profit organization headquartered in Edmonton, and with representation across Alberta, in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, operating on the mantra by builders, for builders.


Westman recognized the coming “sea change” in the building industry’s growing size and sophistication; an environmentally friendly program was needed and would be welcomed, and he—and Jayman—were ready to drive this movement in the residential building sector.


With Built Green, Westman wanted to create an environment where sustainable builders could thrive and grow. They themselves had—and continue to have—a strong environmental policy at Jayman, which has been recognized with various awards, including the Alberta Emerald Award for Environmental Stewardship (2007) and recognition from NRCan in 2005. They continue to offer numerous environmental options to their customers—leading the industry by example.


To Jayman, it’s common sense to build to BUILT GREEN® certification, since there are so many benefits to green building. These range from energy and water efficiency (meaning lower utility bills), to cleaner air—which for those with respiratory issues has been transformational—to increased home durability, which means fewer necessary renovations. The benefits of green building are far reaching, and even extend to the time spent cleaning your home (better ventilation filters out more dust and leaves cleaner air and surfaces) and how much you hear of the outside world (triple-paned windows are great for energy efficiency and reduction of noise pollution).


Between the health, comfort, environmental, and financial benefits, building green seems an obvious choice. However, as Westman points out, “common sense is only common when it’s common knowledge”, which has been one of the challenges sustainable builders face: homeowners not asking for green homes because they are not fully aware of the benefits of a sustainable home. They are acknowledging the importance of environmental conservation, yet moving from recognition to action isn’t always easy. Support for sustainability may initially come from an altruistic motivation; however, as research continues, the benefits of a sustainable home are emerging and homeowners’ are learning more about the pragmatic benefits of a green home.


Westman supports this and believes that, more than ever before, the public is starting to get it. Green homes aren’t exotic anymore—for either the homebuilder or the homeowner—they’re what is becoming ever more commonly offered because it’s the right thing to do for the environment and the families making homes of houses. Jayman has been building green for these reasons and to lead an industry forward.


Jayman has always been committed to leading the industry in environmental efficiency. As the push behind Built Green, they became the first members of the program, and the first to enroll and build a BUILT GREEN® home which was gold certified. Back in 2002 they introduced low-flush toilets as a standard across their homes; in 2004, high efficient furnaces became a standard; their standard carpets are made from 50% recycled bottles; their standard hardwood is FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) certified for sustainability. With their thousands of BUILT GREEN® homes, they’ve diverted thousands of tonnes of construction waste from landfills; saved tens of thousands of litres of water per home; and cut over 160,000 tonnes of Green House Gas emissions. And Westman says that they’re moving up with energy efficiencies, with new initiatives coming in the fall.


And his contributions to the industry don’t stop there. In 2013, he donated $5 million to the University of Calgary to create real estate studies centre. The donation reflected the local building industry’s dedication to funding advanced education. He has done a great thing to transform real estate education. This is one of various projects Jayman has lead.


For builders, there’s been a tremendous knowledge transfer regarding sustainable building technology. “We really understand the technology of building a house now,” Westman says. There is a new normal where building green isn’t the exception, but rather becoming the rule—for good builders.


This has been a necessary change in the tide. Built Green came in as the green trend was emerging and has s been integral in moving the trend of sustainable building practices to the norm, and assisting builders to become part of what is increasingly becoming the standard. Of Jayman’s contributions to sustainable development in the residential home building industry, Westman says, “We changed an entire industry, which started with leadership as a company.”