Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023
2023 saw war, weather-related disasters, and interest rate hikes. During the year, Canadians focused on the war in Ukraine, as well as the ongoing war in Israel and Gaza, destructive wildfires and flooding, and the ever-rising interest rate hikes—a total of three, after seven [Bank of Canada rate hikes] in 2022.
Meanwhile, industry faced building code changes; the ever-present problematic inflation and interest rates; sustained supply chain issues; and our safety, between the outcomes of climate disasters, as well as the ongoing influenza and COVID-19 threat, though less severe. 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. As well, some areas of the country were heavier hit with surprising growth, due to a resurgent energy sector and population growth.
We continue to be reminded of both the fragility and resilience of the human condition; issues like COVID and weather disasters have also shone a light on another health emergency—climate change and its impact on our health, safety, and well-being. Many of 2023’s challenges were inextricably linked with climate change, sharing our need for improved health and sustainability practices that support this.
In parallel, Energy Step Code requirements increased, and National Energy Tier Code’s adoption is planned for most jurisdictions across the country through 2024—builders need to be ready. Compliance is achieved through a performance or a prescriptive route, but minimum energy efficiency is required: a base level that all builders must achieve.
With standardized energy performance, the differentiator for builders that was originally associated with energy alone is gone (beyond cases of exceptionally high performance). Our third-party certification programs take a holistic approach, with eight pillars of sustainability: Energy & Envelope, Materials & Methods, Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation, Waste Management, Water Conservation, Occupant Wellness, and Business Practices.
Building code fits into just one of these sections, and it refers to the minimum requirement that everyone must do. We can help you reach those targets and address sustainability beyond energy—beyond status quo.
Built Green’s approach recognizes the house as a system: an interconnected sum of its parts, which affect each other and contribute to the occupant’s quality of life and environmental impact. It’s within this holistic approach and third-party verification, that you can find that important differentiator: your competitive advantage.
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. 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, which are addressed in our programs.
Notwithstanding all of this, Built Green Canada persisted in its work to encourage sustainability in the built environment, engaging with and acting upon industry’s input, and finding ways to provide support. As at December 31, we saw growth in memberships as well as project enrolments and certifications; new and updated training opportunities, with in-person and virtual workshops; and we rolled out new programs and initiatives.
Built Green 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 in demand and code requirements. New programs offer additional ways for industry to remain competitive, addressing growing demand for additional housing types and homebuyers’ interests.
Key highlights include the following:
- The launch of BUILT GREEN® Restorations program with Ontario-based restoration company Hudson Restorations.
- Further development of Built Green’s Small Commercial program following its first-ever certification in this pilot courtesy of Citta Construction in Saanichton last year, earning a Platinum right out of the gate.
- Built Green certifies Midtown Phase One in St. Albert: the second “phase” certification for the Communities pilot program.
- Built Green relaunches newly updated BUILT GREEN® Program Fundamentals after an extensive rehaul.
- Built Green launches its Whole-House Energy Retrofit in partnership with Blue House Energy during Renovation month.
- Built Green launches its inaugural Maverick Awards, profiling trailblazers in sustainable building.
- GRESB recognizes Built Green Canada in the Design / Construction category at full points, allowing asset managers with BUILT GREEN® builders to gain points toward their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting.
- Ongoing work with key industry stakeholders and Built Green’s Technical Standards Committee continues to ensure alignment and program relevance, while widening the organization’s circle of influence, including (to name a few): Blue House Energy; Building Knowledge; Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association; Canadian Association of Energy Advisors; Calgary Inner City Builders Association, Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation; City of Edmonton; City of Calgary; City of Langford; Canada Guaranty; select Canadian Home Builders’ Association affiliates; Fortis BC; Green Think Inc; GRESB, Habitat for Humanity; Infill Development Association Edmonton; Light House; Natural Resources Canada; Building Knowledge; SAGEN™; the Victoria Residential Builders Association; and more. And above all, our builders, developers, renovators, restorers, suppliers, and manufacturers that all contribute to the progression of sustainable development!
- The continued delivery of our training courses—BUILT GREEN® Program Fundamentals and Construction Technology for Built Green, Built Green Net Zero Energy for New Construction, and Built Green Whole-House Energy Retrofit—the latter three in partnership with Blue House Energy. 30 per cent discounts are offered to our members, while all our training courses are acknowledged with Continuing Professional Development credits from BC Housing and Master Building training credits through Professional Home Builders Institute.
- Ongoing onsite verifications for Single Family and audits for High Density projects—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.
- A selection of deeper dive reviews and 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 Green Building Day, in parallel to National Environment Week, focused on raising awareness and support for sustainable building amongst municipalities.
- Though not yet mandatory, Built Green strongly encourages greenhouse gases and carbon reporting to support industry’s readiness for incoming requirements. For 2024, we have expanded the opportunities to earn points through our GHG calculator, by performing life-cycle analysis—options include cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-grave, and cradle-to cradle. This includes a recognized Carbon Emissions estimator (MCE2) such as Natural Resources Canada’s Material Carbon Estimator, or a builder provides Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for materials used in the house.
- And Built Green remains interested in builders’ consideration of 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.
Overall, 2023 saw continued momentum, with a five per cent increase in membership and a total of 4,449 new certified homes, including high density units. That means 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! This represents an increase of 20 per cent over previous year.
There was also a six per cent increase in single family enrolments and a six per cent increase in high density projects during 2023, 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, while faced with socio economic challenges and policy changes. Moreover, 2023’s numbers pushed our cumulative total over 50,000 BUILT GREEN® certified homes since our origins in 2003!