Homeowner discovers the benefits of green building

From the ground up: Mission Group builds sustainable communities


“I was not aware that it was Built Green—that wasn’t something I was thinking about,” says Michael Herhaus, homeowner at the Winsome Hill community in Kelowna, BC. Soon after moving in, however, he came to appreciate the benefits of living in a BUILT GREEN® home.


Michael wasn’t looking to buy pre-sale either. He had heard the horror stories. But his realtor knew Mission Group and said they were the only builder he would buy pre-sale from. There’s a lot of industry jargon out there that makes it confusing for homeowners to know what they’re getting, but when Michael moved into Winsome Hill, there were noticeable differences in his BUILT GREEN® home.


“It’s funny, I noticed that I had to alternate my cleaning schedule from top to bottom because I was throwing cleaning supplies in the garbage…there was no dust!” Michael says—and he’s not alone. George and Arlene live at Winsome Hill as well, and of their home buying experience, George says, “In our first brand new home we could smell the off-gasses given off from the formaldehyde in the carpet and you could smell the paint fumes. When we did our first walk through of this home, you couldn’t smell anything. There’s also a lot less dust. It feels a lot cleaner in this new home.”


What these folks are experiencing are benefits of Built Green’s holistic approach to building. Every sustainability program is different and has different areas of focus—Built Green Canada recognizes energy as a vital component in residential construction and ownership and moves beyond this to include electrical efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, resource use, and overall environmental impact: an advanced building technologies approach with a view that the home works as a system or a sum of its parts. On paper, these words mean only so much to the consumer, but in practice, it’s simple: lower bills, smaller environmental footprint, an increased quality of living.


Michael notes that his three-storey 1,460 sq. ft. home has almost no temperature variation between the floors, which he attributes to great insulation. Surely the insulation plays a part, but this is where we see the “house as a system” performing for its people. The reduced dust, the better air quality, the consistent temperature—these are all due in part to better building materials, to better ventilation, to better home air tightness—and these areas feed into others and more benefits become apparent to the homeowner.


Michael was surprised that he had only one bill—electric power. This includes heating, cooling, hot water, and electric power, yet it averages only $72 per month. A low utilities bill is just another noticeable difference between a BUILT GREEN® home and a home built to code.


"At Mission Group, we take an Inspired Green approach with all of our new home communities. This means that we look for ways to minimize the environment impact in every aspect of our work," says JoAnne Adamson, Director of Sales for Mission Group Homes. "We start with the big picture, such as land use and protecting the site's natural processes. Our attention extends all the way down to details like the choice of non off-gassing interior finishes, like flooring and paint." Their key areas of focus are complementary to those of the BUILT GREEN® program (Envelope and Energy Systems, Materials and Methods, Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation, Waste Management, Water Conservation, and Business Practices), which makes them a great fit.


BUILT GREEN® builders commit to changing their practices across the board; they have to walk the enviro-friendly talk, which Mission Group has done in spades. Since they joined Built Green in 2008, they’ve completed 214 homes in three BUILT GREEN® Gold certified communities, Sage at Auguston, Amberhill, and Winsome Hill. This BC-based builder has a truly “inspired green” approach to constructing a home and an entire community.


With the mission to “build each home as if it were [their] own, and treat [their] homeowners like family”, Mission Group follows through on client care. They have won the Canadian Home Builders' Association "Tommie Awards" Outstanding Customer Service award three times and have won special achievement awards for both of their BUILT GREEN® communities.


Alongside their commitment to their customers, they’ve made great efforts to promote green building. Various pages within their site have content—including various videos—devoted to educating the public about the benefits and necessity of sustainable building practices. And just as with their client care, they’re following through on their environmental commitment.


It’s important that everyone is aware of his or her environmental impact, but for those creating the homes we live in, that awareness—and action—results in significant change.  


Environmental leadership is about more than a few changes in practice. It takes vision and commitment, which, from the build site up, Mission Group continues to build into their legacy. For homeowners like Michael, and George and Arlene, this vision transformed into their very own healthy homes and allowed them the well-being of knowing they have minimal impact on the environmental. It’s one community at a time, but Mission Group is making a difference.


Bits & pieces of green

  • Three Mission Group communities have achieved BUILT GREEN® Gold: Sage at Auguston, Amberhill, and Winsome Hill.
  • Mission Group puts huge emphasis on the promotion of green building as detailed on their website, which publicly declares their environmental commitment. They hold themselves accountable to a higher standard—something others may aspire to.
  • Mission Group has a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional on staff to help guide their Inspired Green goals.