Green Building and Construction
The construction industry has long been a major source of local employment, but it also has a relatively large environmental footprint and has been one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Overall, buildings in Canada consume approximately 1/3 of Canada’s total energy production and account for half of our natural resource extracts, one quarter of our landfill waste, and ten percent of airborne pollutants. However, a trend towards designing and constructing buildings that reduce waste, limit energy consumption, and use water more efficiently has gained steam over the past decade.
Green building, also known as green construction or sustainable building, is the practice of using environmentally responsible and resource-efficient construction and design processes throughout the full life-cycle of a building – from design and construction through to renovation and deconstruction. While the practices and technologies employed in green building are constantly evolving and differ from region to region, there are some fundamental green principles. Green buildings should be sensitive to the environment, utilize resources, energy, and water efficiently, and have a positive social impact on people and communities.
The main obstacle that is holding back the green building industry is higher upfront capital costs in design and construction. Most estimates suggest that a green building costs about 2% more than a conventional building, and while green buildings can offer operational savings of around 20% of total construction costs over the life of the building, many developers find those direct capital cost increases to be too large a barrier.
Investment in green buildings can help to reduce energy use and emissions through increased efficiency of energy and water use, adoption of renewable energy generating technologies, and improved integration of buildings and communities.