Clearing the Air on Green Building – Part 1

What comes to mind when you see the words Green Building, Eco Friendly, or Sustainable?

Green Building and Design Curiosity?  Overwhelm?  Uncertainty?  A sudden desire to put on a pair of Birkenstocks?  An urge to run away?

Often when topics around sustainability and in particular sustainable building practices arise it can lead to far more questions than answers.   In the construction industry, we have noticed a tendency to throw the word GREEN around without the much needed information to go along with it.  

“WE’RE GREEN!” someone might tweet or advertise, but that’s all they say –  they might not tell you just how it is they are ‘green’ … or what that even means!   You may have encountered fairly benign yet misleading ideas about what Green Design, or Green Building is.   A contractor might tell you he/she is building you a ‘green’ home simply because he installed a high efficiency furnace.  Another might add solar panels and tankless water heater but fail to insulate the home to adequate standards for efficiency.  Still another might add even more energy saving components to the home but send all of your construction debris to the landfill.   All could say they are building ‘green’ and yet none of them is fully embracing the practice.

This article covers some of the most glaring misconceptions around sustainability in design and construction.   “Sustainability is a choice of values, not a choice of tools”  points out Lance Hosey in his article.   If we allow our values to guide us in designing / choosing sustainable homes or practice we have a far greater chance of make a measurable difference in the impact we make.

Building a truly Green Home demands that you start considering  your options during the design phase of your project.  

It can seem like a daunting task, no doubt about it – as a designer I am well aware of the many levels of engagement when it comes to sustainable design.  It is still an emerging field and yet it is becoming more and more crucial that designers, architects and builders educate themselves as much as they are able to as we see our building codes change in ways that demand more sustainable practices.

The Green Home Guide  from Ecohome is an excellent resource for home owners to turn to, to find out more.  

As a design company, it is imperative that we stay as informed as possible, and seek out certification programs that will enhance what we bring to the table for our clients.  Part two of this blog (coming soon) will go into some detail about some of the major certification programs available in Canada for residential design and construction.  I  will place them in order of simplest to most onerous.  I believe these organizations provide the skills based education necessary for professionals in the residential construction industry to have the greatest impact in their field, and one on one with their clients.   

It is a huge learning curve, but if we all step into the river together and support one another as professionals, for the benefit of our clients,  we can absolutely create more (and better) options for our clients moving forward.

Here is a good truth to remember:  A green home doesn’t always cost more to build, but always costs less to operate.

Stay tuned for more….

Posted on: June 27th, 2016 by Ellergodt Design
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