Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023
2022 saw COVID-19 variants continue for a third year, though less virulent; uncertainty around safety measures; ongoing supply chain issues; as well as problematic inflation and interest rates. The collision of these challenges, alongside increased material prices, labour shortages, and an ongoing affordability crisis, meant we all faced another year of economic uncertainty.
Despite all this, the first two quarters of the year saw substantial increases in activity across industry, whereas the third and fourth quarters underwent a significant drop, which is anticipated to continue into the new year. During this time, we were reminded of both the fragility and resilience of the human condition. Across the country, there were countless acts of kindness, support, and generosity. Meanwhile, there has been an increasing focus on health and wellness, which came to a head with the pandemic. Coronavirus reminded us that public health and healthcare delivery are paramount to our collective well-being. It has also shone a light on another health emergency—climate change and its impact on our health and well-being. COVID-19 and climate change are inextricably linked, as they share our need for improved health and sustainability practices that support this.
The path forward will see increased attention on sustainable living—economical, societal, and ecological factors will all be considered to a greater extent because these can impact our welfare, security, and health. As we’ve navigated through this unprecedented period and look ahead, we continue to focus on improved ways to stay safe and be well. And, as we continue to rebuild our economy, healthier, more resilient homes are key. This offers the residential building sector an important opportunity: to build on its sustainably efforts—to take another step forward in building better. This means consideration beyond energy performance to other critical areas, such as materials and methods, indoor air quality and ventilation, waste management, water conservation, occupant wellness, our business practices, alongside reducing carbon emissions.
Notwithstanding all of this, Built Green Canada continued its work to encourage sustainability in the built environment, engaging with and acting upon industry’s input, and finding ways to provide support. We saw growth in memberships, project enrolments and certifications, while we delivered additional webinars and training opportunities and rolled out new programs and initiatives.
Built Green Canada continued its focus on program delivery and training, while investing in program development, as the organization diversifies its product offerings, evolving alongside the types of housing stock and code requirements. New programs offer additional ways for industry to remain competitive and address the demand for changing housing types and homebuyers’ interests. In reviewing the year, some key highlights include the following:
- The launch of BUILT GREEN® Net Zero Energy+ for Single Family New Construction. While this course focuses on net zero achievement, it takes a holistic approach (consistent with all BULT GREEN® programs) that goes beyond energy—represented in the program’s title, with the plus sign.
- Supporting the net zero energy program, BUILT GREEN® Net Zero Energy for New Construction was rolled out, and through a series of online modules, introduces concepts and techniques for developing high performance and net zero new construction projects. In addition to advanced envelope and mechanical system content, the course includes discussion on how occupant behaviour impacts overall energy use in a house and affects the sizing of renewable energy systems. During 2022, there were 104 registrants with 85 completed.
- The soft launch of our Small Commercial program with Città Group, certifying the first build through this new program and earning an impressive Platinum certification! Built Green Canada, Città Group, alongside the Technical Standard Committee including engineers and Energy Advisors worked on this program.
- The delivery of two key webinars: Cost-Effective Ways to Improve Energy Performance (July) and Under-Utilized Technology that Makes a Difference (September). Consistent with our previous webinars, RSVPs were high, 75 and 115 attendees respectively, with representation from Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. And these were recognized with Continuing Professional Development credits from BC Housing, and eligibility for Master Builder training credits through the Professional Home Builders Institute.
- Providing our training courses—BUILT GREEN® Program Fundamentals and Construction Technology for BUILT GREEN®—the latter in partnership with Blue House Energy, both of which continued to be acknowledged with Continuing Professional Development credits from BC Housing and Master Building training credits through Professional Home Builders Institute. As above, early in the new year, BUILT GREEN® Net Zero Energy for New Construction training modules were launched, also eligible for credit.
- Presentations to Okanagan College, Victoria Residential Builders Association—one on BUILT GREEN® Net Zero Energy+ and one on Building to Step 5 with Natural Gas—and various individual builders. Additionally, the organization is working with the University of Alberta on the integration of Built Green’s programs into their curriculum.
- Select onsite visits that allow Built Green to further engage with members—both to provide member support, and as another method of gaining essential information for the organization to remain relevant and rigorous, while maintaining achievable certification requirements.
- The declaration of BUILT GREEN® Day, in parallel to National Environment Week; participation in both CHBA BC’s Georgie Awards and in Victoria Residential Builders Association’s CARE Awards (Construction Achievements and Renovations of Excellence).
- Ongoing work with key stakeholders continued to ensure alignment and increase the organization’s circle of influence, including Blue House Energy; Building Knowledge; Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association; Canadian Association of Energy Advisors; Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation; City of Edmonton; City of Langford; City of Calgary; Canada Guaranty; select Canadian Home Builders’ Association affiliates; Fortis BC; Green Think Inc.; Habitat for Humanity; Infill Development Association Edmonton; Mindscape Innovations; Natural Resources Canada; Building Knowledge; SAGEN™; the Victoria Residential Builders Association; and more.
- The continued onsite verifications for Single Family and audits for High Density project—another component of our certification’s quality assurance. At year-end, we received more verifications than requested, which we believe reflects an increased understanding of the value of our quality assurance processes; the continued 30 per cent discount for members taking BUILT GREEN® Program Fundamentals, Construction Technology for BUILT GREEN®, and BUILT GREEN® Net Zero Energy for New Construction; delivery of webinars, alongside making online modules focused on each section of our programs—all focused on building science and building better; wrap up of the 2023 checklists and guides; and the investment of resources toward new programs to be launched in 2023.
- Additionally, for the first time since Built Green began, we developed a new program section: Occupant Wellness, which focuses on the well-being of its occupants, physically and mentally. Health and wellness continue to be top of mind for homebuyers. With indoor air quality and ventilation already part of our programs, the addition of this new section aims to further improve occupants’ well-being.
Built Green remains interested in greenhouse gas emission reporting and encourages builders to consider checklist items related to disaster preparedness and home modifications for aging in place, as well as Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) certification, which is an option for Water Conservation. And Built Green is very keen to hear from those looking at carbon capture, as we will further review this in the upcoming year.
Overall, 2022 saw momentum increase, followed by a near halt in activity—understandable, given the implications industry faced; specifically, the organization saw a 12 per cent increase in membership and a total of 2,539 new certified homes, including high density units; therefore, there are this many more living spaces added to the country’s housing stock that are more energy efficient, sustainably built, as well as tested and verified through third-party certification! A more precise breakdown shows single family homes certified were up three per cent while high density numbers were down, though these projects are cyclical (percentages are based on the previous year).
There was also a 12 per cent increase in single family and an over 100 per cent increase in high density projects during 2022, reflecting certification intentions moving forward.
These numbers are a continued testament to builders’ ongoing leadership in progressing sustainable building practices and meeting the demand for high-performance homes, even while faced with a pandemic, continuing market challenges, and energy code changes.