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Designing and building a Built Green home

Embracing Sustainability: The Key Advantages of Designing and Building a Built Green Home

Built Green® is a holistic, sustainable building program that offers homeowners a healthier, more durable home with a reduced environmental impact. In this article we will cover key ways in which energy-efficient Built Green® homes can save you money on energy bills and the cost of owning and maintaining your home while increasing your comfort, promoting healthier living, and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficiency

The Built Green® certification program focuses on energy efficiency as a fundamental component. Their commitment goes beyond energy to include concepts and techniques for developing high-performance and net-zero new construction projects.

Built Green® homes are designed with the latest technologies and practices to minimize energy consumption, including a sealed building envelope, superior insulation, energy-efficient triple-glazed windows, and Energy Star HVAC systems and appliances that meet or exceed energy efficiency standards.

LED lighting, with timers and motion detectors, or Smart panels and whole house automation, contribute to energy efficiency and help reduce power usage and costs. Timers can turn down the heat at night or when you’re away, and turn it back up before you get up or arrive home. Smart panels can monitor real-time energy consumption data, to help you make informed decisions about your electric consumption. They can also determine which circuits to energize, to prevent circuit breakers from being overloaded by surges, and they can turn lights off automatically when no one is in the room.

Healthier, more comfortable indoor environment

The materials used in Built Green® houses are carefully selected to ensure they meet stringent environmental and health standards. Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, formaldehyde-free insulation, and sustainable flooring options contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) remove dust, allergens and stale air to deliver fresh, filtered air to every room, helping your family breathe easier.

With the improved air quality, sealed building envelope and ventilation system there’s less stress on the respiratory and immune systems for allergy and asthma sufferers. With the attention paid to air tightness and ventilation, Build Green® homes offer a significant reduction of drafts, cold spots, and temperature variance from room to room.

Triple-paned windows not only offer superior insulation but help prevent mould growth. They reduce exterior noise pollution, and offer additional protection against cold spots, providing greater comfort while helping improve sleep. During the cold, dry winter months triple-pane windows can help maintain comfortable humidity levels in your home.

Water conservation

Built Green® homes are designed to use water more efficiently as well. On average, low-flow toilets use about 4.8 litres per flush, significantly less than older models that used around 13 litres per flush. This represents a water savings of over 60% per flush compared to older toilets. Water-saving shower heads typically have a flow rate of less than 7.6 litres per minute, while water-saving faucet aerators deliver 3.0 to 5.7 litres per minute. These fixtures can save a significant amount of water compared to standard ones, helping to reduce your overall water usage.

Another popular Built Green® feature, xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. Drought-resistant plants, improving the soil, mulching, and watering wisely all contribute to building water-efficient landscapes that need little or no water beyond what the natural climate provides. By incorporating the principles of xeriscaping, such as water conservation and drought-resistant plants, you can significantly reduce your outdoor water usage, leading to water savings of 50-75%.

Waste reduction and recycling

The construction industry is a significant contributor to waste generation, but Built Green homes are designed to mitigate this impact. Builders of Built Green homes are required to implement a recycling plan and waste reduction measures to ensure that materials are not wasted. The program addresses waste materials on the construction site and encourages recycling and repurposing of these materials.

Higher levels of Built Green certification require the inclusion of salvaged or recycled content in at least ten of the materials used, promoting the use of recycled materials in construction. Built Green homes are designed to comply with environmental standards, including the use of low-impact materials, energy efficiency, and waste reduction.

Long-term cost savings

Built Green homeowners enjoy lower monthly operating costs, with long-term savings on electricity, water and natural gas bills.

New single-family Built Green certified Gold, Platinum and Net Zero+ homes are automatically eligible for a partial mortgage loan insurance premium refund of 25% (beginning at a minimum of 20% improvement in energy performance) through CMHC, Canada Guaranty, Sagen and other lenders.

Increased durability

Built Green® sustainably built homes don’t require substantial renovations every five years, like many conventional homes. They include durability features like airtight building envelopes, engineered lumber that resists warping, 30-year shingles, and waterproofed foundation walls.

Superior HVAC systems improve heating, cooling and ventilation, which can reduce temperature variation and improve air quality, leading to a longer lifespan for the home, with lower maintenance costs.

Enhanced resale value

According to the 2021 Canadian Home Buyer National Preference Study by Avid Ratings and CHBA National, consumer demand for sustainable homes is increasing. Of the top 10 overall ‘must have’ home features, four were related to sustainable builds. They included high-efficiency windows, energy-efficient appliances, overall energy-efficient homes and HRV/ERV air exchange ventilation systems.

CHBA National data indicates that homes with a green certification sell for close to 10% more on average than homes that don’t are not. Home buyers are increasingly interested in properties that align with their values of environmental responsibility and energy efficiency.

Some city and municipal jurisdictions require an energy assessment to be completed before a home can be sold, so certification can save the homebuyer about $300-$500, depending on the location.

Renewable energy integration

Built Green home designs often incorporate renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines. By harnessing the power of nature, you can generate your own sustainable energy, further reducing dependence on traditional energy sources.

BC Hydro’s net metering program is designed for households that generate electricity for their own use. The program allows you to power your home with renewable energy, but with the flexibility to rely on the power grid when you need it. When your solar panel system generates more electricity than you need, your smart panel will feed it back to the grid. You’ll get a generation credit towards future electricity you’ll use during periods when there isn’t enough sunlight.

Mortgage rebates and incentives

Certification through Built Green Canada can earn a significant refund, based upon the higher level of energy efficiency in these houses. Owning a Built Green® home is about more than energy, however, and includes preserving natural resources, reducing pollution, improving the durability of your home investment, air quality and comfort.

Single-family new homes Built Green® certified Gold, Platinum, and Net Zero+ are eligible for a partial mortgage loan insurance premium refund of 25% (beginning at a minimum of 20% improvement in energy performance). The CMHC Eco Plus program is available for homeowners who are CMHC insured and have an energy-efficient home, and applicants may receive a partial premium refund of 25%.

The Sagen™ Energy-Efficient Housing Program rewards home buyers who purchase energy-efficient homes or make energy-saving renovations with significant savings, offering a refund of 25% of the mortgage insurance premium. And Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company’s Energy-Efficient Advantage Program offers a 25% premium refund on the Canada Guaranty mortgage insurance premium paid for borrowers who buy an energy-efficient home or make energy-efficient upgrades.

Verification of the green features in your home

Third-party certification verifies the authenticity of the green features designed and built into your home. Certification through Built Green Canada qualifies your home for two labels, an EnerGuide label and a Built Green® label. These labels signify that your home’s energy efficiency and green features have been verified, and they are usually affixed to the furnace or electrical panel.

Whether you’re building in a municipality that has adopted the BC Energy Step Code or 9.36, a minimum energy performance standard has now become a requirement for all builders. These codes are a subset of Built Green’s programs. Built Green’s checklists provide your design-builder with choices on how they will achieve energy efficiency in designing and constructing your home, going beyond base-level code for a more holistic approach to sustainable building practices.

Community and social benefits

The impact of sustainable living extends beyond your household to benefit the entire community you live in. Built Green neighbourhoods and projects tend to foster a sense of community by bringing together like-minded individuals who share a commitment to environmental responsibility. These communities will often include shared green spaces, community gardens, and other amenities that promote a sustainable and connected lifestyle.

The takeaway

Built Green® homes are designed to reduce operating costs, leading to savings on utilities and other expenses. They are airtight, more thermally comfortable, with superior ventilation, which provides greater comfort and indoor air quality. The choice of materials also offers a healthier living environment, reducing respiratory and immune system distress, and minimizing exposure to toxins

These homes are designed to have longer lifespans and lower maintenance costs, making them a more sustainable and cost-effective choice in the long run. Built Green® homes can have higher resale value due to their energy efficiency and environmental benefits. Building a Built Green® house makes you automatically eligible for rebates, contributing to further cost savings.

Pemberton net zero home
Platinum Green Canada Project, Net Zero Ready

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