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New Homes: BILD's Green Policy

BILD pursues green initiatives

As the green movement gains momentum on a global scale, so are the local initiatives being implemented by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

In a whirlwind fact-finding effort, BILD's new Green Committee has received presentations from some of Canada's top 'green' organizations. Among them is the Canada Green Building Council, the organization behind the program known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.

BILD's Committee has also heard from the Built Green Society of Canada. Based in Alberta, Built Green is the organization responsible for delivering the western Canada equivalent to our ENERGY STAR for new homes program.

Our Green Committee has also heard from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, an organization established by City Council to combat global warming and improve air quality in the city, and studied the on-line home energy efficiency rating program established by the U.S. National Association of Home Builders.

The thing that has become crystal-clear through all of our fact-finding efforts is that labels are labels, and whether they are on your clothes, your food or your home, you need to know what’s behind them, what they stand for and what they mean (see Green Programs link). It is particularly important to understand that these labels have no regulatory status which is why BILD has articulated a specific policy statement addressing the matter of the National/Ontario Building Code vis a vis the various green labels. That policy can be found by clicking HERE.

More Green Initiatives

BILD has also entered into a training partnership with EnerQuality Corporation, the organization which operates the ENERGY STAR program here in Ontario. Together, we are offering builders' workshops that help fulfil the requirements of becoming an Energy Star builder.

The EnerGuide 80 workshop offers homebuilders and trade contractors the knowledge and tools they need to meet the pending Building Code requirements while the Energy Star workshop trains the sales and marketing staff to speak confidently about the features and benefits of ENERGY STAR.

BILD's Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Dupuis, says the demand for the EnerGuide 80 and ENRGY STAR seminars has been incredible. "We have found an almost insatiable thirst for green building knowledge," he said.

Meanwhile, BILD is walking its own talk by making the decision to have its offices powered by Bullfrog Power.  All of Bullfrog's power comes from clean, emission-free sources like wind power and low-impact water power instead of carbon intensive sources like coal and oil.

The recent switch to green energy means the association will greatly reduce its total amount of greenhouse gas emissions. It's an easy, practical way to make a meaningful difference in creating a healthy environment.

"We're pleased to be working with BILD," said Bullfrog Power president Tom Heintzman. "They are part of a growing trend of companies making an effort to be socially responsible."

BILD has also gone "off the bottle" by installing a Homespring water filtrations unit and chiller, effectively eliminating plastic water bottle servings all together.

BILD's plan is to move forward with the mandate of promoting sustainable development and green building practices, and to educate and motivate its members in these areas. Many companies have already raised the bar on green initiatives. We congratulate Tridel (in the high-rise sector) and Berkshire Homes (in the low-rise sector) on becoming the winners of BILD's newly established Green Builder of the Year awards only the second time the trophy has been given out.

"What I like about my association being involved (in green initiatives)," says Sean Mason, "is that the small individual steps will eventually have a large cumulative effect."

BILD headquarters goes green with solar PV roof-top installation

In February 2011, BILD embraced the micro Feed-in Tariff (microFIT) Program under the Green Energy Act to provide renewable energy to Ontario's power grid. Working with PURE Energies, BILD installed an 80-panel solar photovoltaic array on the roof-top of its headquarters building in Toronto.

solar panelsThe solar rooftop, which produces about 15,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, was the next logical step in the greening of the headquarters building for the residential construction industry which has been exhaustively upgraded for energy efficiency, and has a plethora of motion sensors, timers and set-back switches installed throughout the 20,000 square foot facility.

"This solar project is an example of the active role the residential construction industry is playing in Ontario's clean energy economy. Ontario's energy plan is creating jobs and opportunities for businesses and families across Ontario as we continue to build a clean, modern energy system," said the Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy.

The solar PV installation not only generates revenue for the partners, but more importantly assists Ontario in its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most importantly, provides a highly visible example to residential home builders within the GTA and across Ontario.

"We are not in the business of telling our builders what to do, but we are happy to lead by example and to provide information and education to builders on best practices in sustainable development and green building," said BILD President and CEO Stephen Dupuis.

Dupuis noted that the 20 Upjohn Road facility is home to BILD as well as the Ontario Home Builders' Association, and, fittingly, the EnerQuality Corporation, which administers the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program across Ontario. "Homebuilders visiting at 20 Upjohn Road for forums, workshops or governance meetings won't be able to miss the roof-top solar panels mounted along the south perimeter, but even if they do, an HD screen mounted in the lobby will continually display the performance of the roof-top mounted panels," Dupuis stated.

"We are extremely proud to be a part of this project, which is an excellent example of the public policy of the Green Energy Act meeting the private investment of PURE Energies and the industry leadership of BILD," added Chris Stern, PURE Energies' Vice-President of Builder Relations.  "We are looking forward to industry-wide adoption of PURE Energies' solar community with the ultimate goal of increasing the value of homes by turning them into a dividend paying investment at no cost to either the builder or to the homeowner."

With a reputation for leadership by example, BILD was recently recognized as the 2009 EnerQuality Leader of the Year. The Association has undertaken a number of pro-active green initiatives including green education and training partnerships as well as demonstration projects like the Archetype Sustainable House. BILD is one of four Ontario HBAs selected to participate in the Local Energy Efficiency Partnership / Technology Adoption Pilot, administered by EnerQuality and sponsored by Natural Resources Canada.