1. What are Green Buildings?

  2. How much energy do buildings consume in North America?

  3. Why does investing in green real estate make me money?

  4. Why LEED certification matters and what is it?

  5. Why is geothermal important to the buildings we invest in?

What are Green Buildings? top

Building green is the key to a sustainable future for Greater Vancouver. Throughout their life cycle, buildings consume massive amounts of natural resources and make a significant impact on the environment. Green buildings represent the latest technologies and best practices of high performance, healthy, and low impact development. Green building means designing and constructing buildings to increase performance and enhance the experience for all people who work, live and play in these structures.

The relationship between buildings and the environment is significant and only now becoming properly understood. In Metro Vancouver, buildings account for:

  • 40 percent of the municipal solid waste destined for our landfills
  • 35 per cent of our CO2 emissions - the chief pollutant blamed for climate change.

Traditional building development is driven almost exclusively by first cost economics that do not factor in long term environmental, social, and occupant impacts. The net result is accelerated ecosystem degradation, both at the site and in remote places where energy is generated and where raw materials are extracted. It doesn't end once the building is built - today, occupants are exposed to increasing levels of toxins, lack of daylight, and poor indoor air quality.

BUT the development community has a lot to benefit from building green. Green projects are demonstrating their financial viability with:

  • decreased capital cost,
  • enhanced ability to rent or sell space,
  • compressed project schedules,
  • improved marketability and free publicity,
  • improved public profile and community relationships,
  • reduced liability, and
  • higher building valuations.

Herein lies the real opportunity of green development. The ability to offer clients and the public superior, high performance buildings that will achieve market objectives, respect the environment and make money.

How much energy do buildings consume in North America? top

Buildings play a vital role in our economy and in our lives. A great number of the buildings in which Canadians spend 90% of their time operate continuously in order to provide the safety, comfort and services we require to live and work. Overall, buildings consume more than one-third of all primary energy (petroleum, nuclear, and coal and natural gas), two thirds of electricity, one-third of all raw materials and a growing percentage of our freshwater resources. At the same time, buildings account for one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, and the material waste that continues to present disposal challenges.

In North America, buildings account for:
  • 36% of total energy use/65% of electricity consumption
  • 30% of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 30% of raw materials use
  • 30% of waste output
  • 12% of potable water consumption

    Note: statistics from the US Green Building Council.
In Vancouver, buildings account for:
  • 40% of the municipal solid waste destined for landfills
  • 35% of our CO2 emissions-the chief pollutant blamed for climate change

For more information please visit http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/Buildsmart/building-green.htm

Why does investing in green real estate make me money? top

The number of real estate developers applying to have their projects certified to meet environmentally friendly green standards has doubled over the past year as they scramble to keep up with public demand.

The hottest trend in the highly competitive condo market is the green or smart condo: sustainable, environmentally responsible developments. Green condos offer genuinely alternative building and design practices which promote health, cost savings and environmental stewardship.

Why does LEED certification matter and what is it? top

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ (LEED™) is a building rating system created by the United States Green Building Council and adapted for Canada by the Canada Green Building Council.

When the Canada Green Building Council launched its LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certification process in April 2005, it started with 112 applications from across the country. Those applications have doubled in the last two years.  British Columbia leads the country with 33 LEED certified buildings and boasts 1 of only 5 platinum buildings in all of Canada.

The rating provides up to 70 points in the following categories:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Energy and Atmosphere 
  • Water 
  • Materials
  • Indoor Air Quality

For more information please visit:
http://www.cagbc.org/leed/project_registration/index/articles143.htm

Why is geothermal important to the buildings we invest in? top

Geothermal energy is a 30 year old technology, was once the dream of off-the-grid environmental enthusiasts, and has now become the new chic among CEOs, doctors and developers.  Geothermal lowers the consumer’s dependence on fossil fuels, but provides better inside air quality and more efficient summer cooling. Geothermal energy systems transfer heat and cooling from the ground by either re-circulating subsurface water or using a fluid circulated through a heat exchanger.

"In the post-Enron world, companies that go green have an edge among consumers concerned about corporate social responsibility", says David Bengert, president of the Built Green Society of Canada, "green builders are well positioned to meet the demands of a new wave of home buyers for whom environmentalism is at the top of their generation's agenda."."Baby Boomers facing a fixed-income retirement are also looking for homes that are highly energy efficient".

Management at Streamline Properties believes that certified green/smart buildings will enjoy higher resale values in the future as uncertain energy costs continue to rise.

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