Building Lasting Change Conference 2024

Why build green?

This month one of our Planning Managers, Jane Rideout, and our Architecture & Design Co-Ordinator, Anna Garrido, attended the Building Lasting Change conference with the Canadian Green Building Council in Toronto. The conference was a packed two days of learning and discussing how builders, developers, engineers, and architects, can pave the way forward to low-carbon and net-zero buildings.

The conference provided a lot to learn, in both a technical stream for building and designing green buildings and a business stream that offered financial guidance on the economic benefits of green buildings.

What does it mean to “build green”?

The built environment, including our roads, buildings, public spaces, etc., is one of the biggest producers of Greenhouse Gas emissions, accounting for 13 % of Canada’s total emissions. These emissions come from the loss of trees or wetlands when developing land, the carbon emissions in the creation and application of concrete used to build new buildings, and the energy consumed to heat, cool, and operate the buildings upon completion.

Building green is a movement to reduce and limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced when creating a new project. Low-carbon buildings aim to use sustainable materials and building practices to minimize carbon output and energy consumption. A net-zero building means that any carbon used to build the development was off-set in other ways, so that the net emissions of the building are 0.

Canada has set high targets for new buildings’ environmental sustainability. By 2050, Canada plans to be net-zero, including the building sector!

What are the benefits of Green Buildings?

There are many benefits of building green and starting that process earlier than is required. First, green buildings are good for the environment and will help slow the impacts of climate change on our planet. At Sightline Planning + Approvals, we value the environment and want to do our part to ensure that the earth continues to thrive for future generations.

In addition to benefiting the natural environment with lower emissions and energy consumption, green buildings are better for people, too. Low-carbon and net-zero buildings tend to have better air quality through the use of natural materials and biophilic designs. Green buildings can also be safer, as eliminating the use of gas for heating and cooking can reduce the risk of fires.

But more than just the environmental benefits, building green has major economic benefits! For one, the cost of operating an energy-efficient green building is significantly lower than many existing buildings. Over time, these lower operating costs not only repay the initial investment in green building but also generate higher asset value. Speaking of generating more profit, because green buildings are sought after by businesses and residents, it can often mean higher rents overall. Plus, having a green building can get you a premium if you want to sell the property.

Finally, considering the impacts of climate change and the likely increase in extreme weather events, ensuring new buildings are adaptive to fires, floods, extreme heat – even power outages, will mean you save money on repairs, reduce your cost of insurance, and keep your building stronger for longer. Climate adaptation measures can be small things like sensors to indicate floods or air quality issues. Or more structural interventions, like ensuring the electrical and HVAC systems are not in the basement, which has a higher flood risk.

As any good investor knows, the cost of being prepared is almost always lower than the cost of repairs after an unexpected situation. At the BLC Conference, they estimated that for every 1$ invested in climate adaptation, you would save 6$ in future costs. That, combined with the rising costs of extreme weather events growing from 1 billion a year in 2008 to almost 3 billion in 2022, the financial impacts of climate change should not be ignored in your investments and portfolios. Check out the Intact Centre of Climate Change Adaptation for more information on climate change and how it affects home building, development, and real estate.

How can my next project be a Green Building?

There are many ways that your next building project can be Green. From a Passive House design to LEED-certified standards, Sightline Planning + Approvals can help connect you to the engineers, architects, and builders who will ensure that your projects will be green. From a new low-carbon or net-zero building to retrofitting existing buildings to be more energy efficient, Sightline is here to connect you to the resources and people to make a greener, more profitable future! Want to know more about it? Contact us!


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