|Wood is a sustainable building material that is completely recyclable at the end of its useful life.
Demographically, the age of a home buyer has not proven to be a deciding factor in buying green; rather, it comes down to the need to facilitate the education, promotion and informational aspects of energy efficient homes to the general public.
“When clients enter the market to purchase a new home, they tend to first look at just the monetary part of the home and use that as a price point comparison,” Corvinelli said. “One challenge is that many Energy Star features are hidden within the envelope of the home, and may not be visible to the naked eye. However, once a client comes into the office, we are able to educate them that while a green home can be slightly more expensive at the outset, the price will be offset by ongoing lower operating costs.”
Another solution is to offer clients energy efficient options. “We provide our clients with simple choices in regards to environmental impact, sustainability, energy efficiency and their relative costs throughout the design and construction of the home,” Lutz said. “They are then able to make educated choices based on their wishes and budget. We do, however, always use products such as low VOC paints and finishes and formaldehyde free products wherever possible. There are so many little things we as builders can do that do not cost any more. Many tout these as green products, but they should actually just be common good practice.”
Continuing education, training and licensing at the builder level and within the trades are equally important. At Alpine Timberframe & Design, for example, employees participate in continuing education through the Built Green program, manufacturers’ workshops, and other initiatives. “When we conduct our own in-house blower door tests, we have our employees and the sub trades all involved by looking for air leakage,” Lutz said. “This turns into a bit of a ‘witch hunt’ and clearly demonstrates the importance of air sealing.”
The Future of Green
|One example of energy savings through renewable energy is found in a solar heating unit manufactured with recycled content.
So what about the future of green, including legislation? “We simply cannot continue building homes the way we were with regard to energy efficiency and long term durability; the cost of a home to the average Canadian was simply crippling when you factor in heating/cooling costs and the short life expectancy of the building,” Lutz said. “I believe the government has a duty to legislate what many may seem as drastic changes to the building codes. However, with appropriate education it is quite achievable—there are many examples of properly trained, good builders across the country being proactive and taking many of these steps already without any difficulty. Much of this will also force product manufacturers into providing more sustainable and energy efficient products.”
There’s no argument from Corvinelli, who further suggests that green homes should be a standard across Canada. “I strive to build more feasible sustainable green housing for the average homeowner at a budget-friendly cost, in all the homes I build. My ultimate goal is to construct every home to net-zero energy standards by implementing innovative, no maintenance, renewable energy technologies.”