Multi-family, purpose-built rental builder leading the way in Western Canada
Highstreet team are “all in” for environmental sustainability
On January 29th, 2016, Scott Butler, President of Highstreet Ventures Inc., called a team meeting to discuss company updates, strategic priorities, and next steps. On the surface, this would appear as any other meeting at Highstreet. Since its inception in 2005, one of the company’s key principles has been driven by their commitment to creating aligned interests for employees, partners, and investors. Highstreet has stayed true to this and maintains their commitment to aligned interests, in part, through an inclusive and transparent corporate culture.
Though Highstreet was the first to build a multi-family development in Yellowknife with an EnerGuide Rating (ERS) of 80, and completed 190 multi-family homes at an ERS at 80 or above, their focus had initially been on energy efficiency in their builds. On the belief that they were already pushing the boundaries on green initiatives, Scott challenged the team to pursue a certification for their green initiatives on future builds. Despite some hesitation on the part of the development team, due to the belief that the additional burden of time and cost would rule this out as a goal, once the alternative forms of green certification were evaluated, it became apparent that with very little modification to their design and company practices, Highstreet could achieve a Built Green certification. The development team, led by Jeff Gallant, became big converts and put their full effort behind this initiative. In short, they were “all in”.
On June 7, 2016, Highstreet announced their next projects: Mission Flats and Carrington Ridge, which will see 520 BUILT GREEN® SILVER certified rental apartments coming to Kelowna and West Kelowna. Projects certified through Built Green Canada take a holistic approach to sustainability including energy efficiency, and then going beyond to include materials and methods: indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and overall business practices. For the tenant, they will enjoy a healthier, more durable home with a lower environmental impact, that comes with the added benefit of reduction in monthly operating costs, , and more.
These projects are at the intersection of affordability and sustainability. As affordable housing increasingly seems elusive; buying a home is far less attainable than it used to be. The federal government's recent changes to mortgage lending rules, which include an expansion of a stress test for borrowers may make it even more difficult for first-time homebuyers. This makes affordable, quality rentals an attractive, viable option. Sustainable features that reduce utility costs further increase the value of the inherent affordability.
A few of the noteworthy sustainable features of the Kelowna and West Kelowna projects include:
- Solar: each apartment building will have a system of Photovoltaic Solar Panels installed. This will help to lower the dependency on grid energy, and is sized to power all of the common areas with clean energy generated onsite. This will feature the largest private investment in renewal energy in a multi-family project in Western Canada.
- Electric cars & car sharing: both sites will feature car sharing with electric cars that are charged by the common power (solar!), for use at cost by the tenants.
- Landscaping: as part of Highstreet’s commitment to local communities, the development is consistent with that of the community’s plan. Kelowna’s climate borders semi-arid classification—dry, hot, and sunny summers. With this in mind, the landscaping has been designed to mimic the local environment, through the reduction of lawn / turf coverage to less than 50 per cent of the landscaped area, as well as integrating xeriscape concepts.
- Energy Efficient, Sound proof Construction: both energy efficiency and tenant comfort are at the heart of Highstreet’s building commitment. Ambient heat loss will be reduced through increased insulation value in walls, which in turn will increase air-tightness and acoustic performance. Through the use of building products and assembly practices, insulation and acoustic considerations will far exceed building code standards. This means tenant’s utility consumption will be much lower in both hot and cold weather seasons.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the rental market segment is currently a driving factor for the economy across the country. In Western Canada, Highstreet continues to show itself as a leader in purpose-built rental housing. Now with their new promise of BUILT GREEN® certified projects they are taking their product to the next level with sustainable building practices.
Bits & Pieces of Green:
- Beyond their commitment to environmental sustainability, Highstreet also takes action on social responsibility. Among their contributions, they have made donations in excess of over $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity.
- Highstreet was the winning team at the 2016 Bike to Work Week Central Okanagan in the Landmark Challenge category.
- Highstreet recently won the Small Business of the Year at the 29th annual Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
- Highstreet’s commitment to environmental sustainability reflects a growing phenomenon supporting staff attraction and retention.