Responding to Market Demand: Inspired by Children

Staburn comes full circle on sustainability

In the Lower Mainland, developers are feeling the crunch: build beyond the minimum code requirements or fail to meet market demand. While consumers and municipalities increasingly are looking for developers to go beyond minimum requirements in their building projects, those who choose to build more sustainably have multiple options and features that can be integrated into the project design and build. And increasingly, there is attention on what happens after the build—about driving down the occupants’ use of resources.


This is exactly what Staburn Property Group Ltd. is doing in a new development called Wallace & McDowell. Situated in North Vancouver, this development connects to Lonsdale District Energy System, which means energy is delivered into the building and then distributed to individual units.Metered energy in each suite can ultimately drive down consumption by 30 – 50 per cent, according to Enerpro Systems, as occupants have the benefit of controlling their saving strategies, such as programming thermostats to be turned down overnight or when they’re not home—and their cost savings from this acts as an incentive to be less wasteful with water and energy consumption. Buildings like this one are changing patterns of behavior and in so doing, driving down usage.


The project is a mixed-use building combining residential, commercial, and office space.  Starburn’s Wallace & McDowell project will also see the restoration of a heritage building, which has been embraced as part of the project design. With a public breezeway through the site, Staburn’s design helps to break up the full block development, providing public access to private space—while accommodating high winds and allowing aeration, with added aesthetic value as a plus.


The City of North Vancouver and Built Green Canada are aligned in their view of looking at a broader view of sustainability—one of the reasons Staburn is certifying this project BUILT GREEN®. Built Green Canada offers environmental building programs to residential builders like Staburn. The focus of these programs is on seven key areas: energy efficiency; materials and methods; indoor air quality; ventilation; waste management; water management; and business practices. Built Green takes a holistic approach to sustainable building, affecting the health of the environment and the home’s occupants.


A small builder with big projects, Staburn started in the large format suburban shopping centre industry achieving success and repeat business from major institutions for over 25 years. Then in 2010, Staburn made the strategic decision to adapt their relationship-based style, insistence on integrity and delivery, and focus on detail, to the more complex urban mixed-use and residential markets—all of this to deliver high-quality urban retail, office, and residential buildings. And through this progression, sustainable design has seeped into their work, from pressures external and internal. For Steve Henderson, Partner at Staburn, his kids are a part of his motivation to produce sustainably.


Steve’s daughter, Jordan, is in International Baccalaureate, a program that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. During her grade nine year at Mulgrave School, Jordan choose to do a project focused on the BUILT GREEN® program for an assignment in her Design Technology class. For this, she did a single family dream home design for a teacher in the school, working to accommodate the teacher’s wish list, all the while using a BUILT GREEN® Single Family checklist aimed at a Gold level certification. Steve was impacted by her work and her interest in sustainability, prompting further motivation around sustainable building practices.


Staburn has amassed progressive sustainable features in this development. Beyond the individual suite metering, energy efficiency features include 70 per cent of exterior insulation to help reduce thermal bridging, increasing occupants’ thermal comfort. Energy Star appliances, super water-efficient dishwashers (11 L/load); 50 per cent of all light fixtures for LED—these are all measures taken towards greater efficiency.


Energy is just one part of sustainable development. Also hugely important—especially to the homeowner—is indoor air quality. Staburn has taken measures here as well; for instance, units have their own Heat Recovery Ventilators, which means that each suite not only has its own outside air supply, which occupants can control, they also benefit efficiency wise from air being preheated from the suite’s warm air as it is exhausted out of the home. Another air quality issue people may not think of is off-gassing from materials used in the home; Staburn ensured all carpets were installed to meet the Carpet and Rug Institute’s certification, which ensures better materials used, greatly affecting indoor air quality.


There’s a long list of important green features, all affecting the building’s overall sustainability. From steel Bailey Studs made with 84 per cent recycled content; to PVD finishes on faucets to ensure a more durable product without toxic waste; to the contractor using reusable bracing during construction to reduce waste; Staburn has committed to a sustainable design and business practices. When people move into their suites, they will get a manual, the completed BUILT GREEN® Checklist showing which features their home has, and an ASHRE energy modeling report.


There are all kinds of reasons to build sustainably, from market pressure to a child’s moral compass, but when it comes down to it, as Henderson puts it, “We’re all part of this planet, and we all have to do our part.” And so, what may have begun as a requirement to build more sustainably has turned into a passion about building better and a commitment to responsible development.


Bits & Pieces of Green

  • As part of the certification process for High Density projects, Built Green Canada requires that builders use a BUILT GREEN® High Density Verifier. The Verifier works with the builder to assist with the completion of the enrolment form and checklist; provides direction to the builder on documentation required—as part of the audit; conducts onsite visits for those visibly verifiable items; and submits documentation. For the Wallace & McDowell project, Staburn is working with BUILT GREEN® Verifier, Joanne Sawatzky of Light House Sustainable Building Centre, based in Vancouver. Joanne is Built Green Canada’s first female verifier and is an accomplished consultant bringing expertise in energy efficient and low-carbon building design, construction, operation, measurement, and verification. Joanne has trained contractors across British Columbia on green buildings.
  • Starburn’s contractor, another BUILT GREEN® member, is Ventana Construction Corp., who understands that sustainability is about the bigger picture. Ventana uses a hybrid car as part of their company vehicles: a 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid.