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Attempt at Green Buildings Failing in Ottawa and Surrounding Provinces

By Green Guest | January 11, 2010

Canada’s Green Building Report Card projects major gaps and flaws in the codes of federal and provincial buildings. Poor grades were issued by the Environmental Defense Center to many of Canada’s governments for the low quality of their policies to promote green buildings. The evaluations of the policies, programs and codes that proved influential in the environmental impacts of Canada’s buildings were issued in the report titled, “Greening Canada’s Buildings: Report Card.” Of the 14 jurisdictions, there were no grades issued that were higher than a C-plus while 4 of the jurisdictions received failing grades.

Many of the environmental issues present in Canada are heavily influenced by buildings. 50% of natural resources and 22 percent of all energy are used by the buildings in Canada while at the same time, 25 percent of all the waste in landfills are produced by those same buildings; this is in accordance to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

Mike Layton, the Program Manager for the Environmental Defense Center says, “We acknowledge the considerable progress that the governments have made so far in encouraging green buildings, But building practices and our understanding of the environment have advanced considerably, and governments are not keeping up.”
Although there was a significant amount of room to improve, Ontario managed to receive the highest grade of a C-plus. The grade was accredited to Ontario due to the recent changes in building codes there which involved, using energy a lot more efficiently along with engaging in planning strategies for using land, planning strategies such as Places to Grow and Greenbelt. These strategies promoted a higher density in many urban centers as well as protecting undeveloped lands.

Grades of C-minus were issued to Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and British Columbia while Nunavut, the Yukon, Alberta and the Northwest Territories all were issued failing grades. The failing provinces did however show some progress in promoting energy efficiency, but their effort regarding other important areas were lacking. For their poor effort in promoting green buildings, the federal government was issued a D.

Ontario C+
New Brunswick D-
British Columbia C-
Newfoundland D-
Manitoba C-
Saskatchewan D-
Prince Edward Island C-
Alberta F
Nova Scotia D+
Northwest Territories F
Quebec D+
Nunavut F
Federal Government D
Yukon F

There were six areas that were analyzed in the report, they are: Health, Resources and Waste, Ecology and Land Usage, Water, Energy and the Overall Integration, these categories were examined to determine the impact that buildings in Canada have on the environment. How well each building did in each category was determined by criteria gathered from local, national and in some cases, international standards put forth for green buildings by organizations such as: Built Green, the Toronto Green Development Standard and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

A large number of Canadians are in favor of getting stricter controls on the efficiency of Canada’s buildings that would make them more eco-friendly. Some are even willing to shell out more money for homes that offer more energy-friendly features. Mike Layton states, “Buildings not only consume energy and water, but they use up other valuable resources, fill up landfills, and pave over natural areas.” He continues by saying, “Building more efficient homes saves us money in the long run, protects our health, preserves our natural environment and decreases our contributions to global warming.”

The report features a number of sincere recommendations:
• Using provincial land use policies to help with the growth of urban areas in hope that it would increase density while at the same time encouraging the use of pre-existing infrastructure.

• Consider making the environment and the issues regarding it one of the National Building Code’s top priorities.

• Enact programs that promote efficient water and energy usage in new and existing buildings and make those programs available to homeowners, tenants and all other Canadian residents.

• Impose new requirements for more efficient energy and water usage in the National Building Code.

Greening Canada’s Buildings: Report Card, the entire report is available for viewing. Just click the link below:

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