Welcome to the Journey Towards Sustainable Housing
What is the best approach towards sustainable housing? In short, the answer is “yes” – all approaches are good, but none are perfect, and there are good arguments to be made that none are truly sustainable.. yet. But there are lots of good things happening in Canada’s housing industry, so let’s take a look at how Canada’s leading housing programs compare.
There are Many Roads to “Sustainable”
At the heart of this discussion is a very engaging and academic struggle with the meaning of the word “sustainable”, or it’s lesser cousin “green”. These words have been used to brand everything from paint products to mega-corporations like Walmart or Google. And as expected, each certification program has it’s own method of approaching sustainability.
The bulk of these programs start by talking about energy, though they don’t all discuss energy the same way, and then they add meaningful other ideas like water, air quality, material choices, durability… the sky’s the limit.
Here are Canada’s most respected programs, and how they compare:
EnerGuide Rating System
With energy as the backbone of sustainability, we really need a common way to talk about energy, and in Canada, that is EnerGuide. EnerGuide is the backbone of most of Canada’s other residential programs. Managed by Natural Resources Canada, EnerGuide is a counting system: a way of calculating how much energy a home should use, based on a set of reasonable assumptions. สร้างบ้าน
The idea is that any two families living in the same model of house will use that house differently, so EnerGuide provides a common way of assessing the house building, independent from the people living in it. If you were going to buy the house then you could ask the previously owning family for their energy bills, but what if you turn the lights off more than they do? Or what if they like to leave the TV running in the background for ambient noise, and you don’t? Or what if you have more kids (and more laundry, and showers, and… ) than they do?
EnerGuide deals with all this by giving a common set of rules to compare the house. You might live differently in an EnerGuide 80 house than your neighbours would, but it’s still an EnerGuide 80 house – it’s still better than a 60, and not as good as a 90. Take a look at EnerGuide website for a useful tool that will help you calculate EnerGuide scores. This rating system helps all the other green building programs below.
ENERGY STAR for New Homes
Also managed by Natural Resources Canada, the ENERGY STAR program is the best known. Last we checked, there were well over 100,000 ENERGY STAR homes in Canada, mostly Ontario, and growing. The ENERGY STAR brand has been used to set apart products from fridges to computer monitors to, yes, houses, as being generally 20-25% more efficient than comparable products that are not ENERGY STAR. In a house, this tends to mean adding insulation, working harder to seal the house well, and using more efficient windows and mechanical equipment. Energy Star for New Homes has a useful online calculator of what an EnerGuide 80 home looks like, and you’ll have a good idea of what an ENERGY STAR home looks like too.