There are a myriad of issues the green building sector is trying to combat, but greenhouse gas emissions is one of the more daunting hurdles to overcome. Specifically in the building industry, emissions are one of the biggest infractions to sustainable building.
Around 35 percent of carbon emissions in Canada are just from cooling, heating, and lighting buildings, and the gas emissions from the build sector exceed 50 percent.
The Canada Green Building Council knows change is slow to come by, but is an organization that is committed to education, changing policy, and leading the build industry towards better, greener practices.
The council—a national, non-profit organization—started in 2002 and is made up of a cross-section of individuals involved in the build industry, including real estate brokers, manufacturers, building owners, and government officials.
In the beginning, CaGBC was very focused on designing new buildings better, but today the organization is taking on the challenge of improving existing structures with a broader agenda.
“We’re focused on delivering a market-based solution,” shared Thomas Mueller, President and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council. “What distinguishes us from other organizations is that we’re industry-led, and incredibly dedicated to our mission of leading and accelerating the marketplace.”
Leading with LEED
CaGBC is the only organization in Canada that purely exists to advance green building practices. And, fittingly enough, they lead on this front with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a third-party certification program and the global standard on sustainable building
“When this organization was founded, LEED was unknown. It’s grown to become a globally-recognized tool that puts the stamp of approval on high-performance buildings,” Mueller said.
“After the U.S., Canada is the biggest build of LEED certified buildings. We’re constantly bringing in new tools, reassessing building standards and pushing to incorporate health and wellness in the build environment.”
Educating the Industry
Helping a company achieve a LEED certification is not CaGBC’s only goal: the organization is also committed to education its members on various topics from the third-party certification program. Over the last decade, CaGBC has trained over 20,000 professional on LEED topics. It even offers an accreditation program so members can become LEED-accredited professionals.
“We’ve had a strong education program from the start,” Mueller shared. “Today we offer online and in-person instructor-led classes with leading content. It’s a great opportunity for professionals to gain a better understanding.”
The coast-to-coast chapter network also helps CaGBC achieve its education goals with local events and training to provide intermediary or advanced education on green building practices.
Green Building Roadblocks
Education within the marketplace helps CaGBC get the message out about the challenges the industry faces when it comes to green building. It also helps the organization pool together resources for contribution to a solution.
The cost of green building and the federal government’s ambition to reduce carbon emissions are high on CaGBC’s priority list, but these aren’t the only issues the industry is dealing with.
The organization also helps companies weave health and wellness construction options into their builds by educating its members on the benefits of this topic. Building owners recognize that natural daylight is better than fluorescent, improve ventilation systems, avoid chemicals in building and cleaning, and have learned to increase the comfort level. This has contributed to employee health in a big way.
This is a program supported at all levels of government and across provinces and major cities.
“The council’s goal is to develop programs to help the industry do its part to achieve carbon emission goals,” said Mueller. “We’re constantly looking to address the many issues the build industry faces. But it becomes easy to show off just how beneficial the initial cost of green building is when it comes to a high-performing business. The advantages are many.”
Building Lasting Change
The Canada Green Building Council’s annual conference will be held June 6-8 in Toronto. Building Lasting Change is the country’s premier green building event, with several opportunities to learn through talks and the expo floor, as well as recognize the best in the industry through the conference’s leadership awards.
We can hint a bit about the theme of the conference: green building is definitely the way the industry can build lasting change.
“More people are employed in green industry in Canada than in mining and oil and gas combined. It’s a proven industry that generates business activity and generates savings for anyone who does it.
“Sustainability and business are not mutually exclusive. The field is evolving very quickly, and it’s not really optional anymore. If you want a better building, it will require investment, but the business and
real estate sector embrace this because it’s a strong business opportunity.”