Sustainable architecture means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. This includes not only environmental considerations, but also social equality, and economic opportunity. Environmentally, buildings and how they are laid out within our cities have had a substantial effect on the environment during the petroleum age. First Nations people were perhaps the last inhabitants of North America to have truly understood the meaning of sustainability and to have lived accordingly. Examples of truly sustainable architecture today are rare, if not non-existent.
We believe is critical to reduce our ecological footprint and this requires careful consideration from cradle to grave in the design of today's built environment. We also believe that beauty and well being can result from architecture. Over time, people will preserve and cherish beautiful buildings, urban spaces, and landscapes. These enduring spaces will use less resources because they are not replaced.
Climate Change and Buildings
Buildings consume over 40% of the raw materials and energy produced in Canada. Our singular priority for achieving sustainable buildings must be a dramatic reduction in energy use as heating & cooling energy represents 75–85% of the total life cycle environmental impact of a building in Canada.
The 2030 Challenge has become an international initiative designed to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of new and renovated buildings. The fundamental objective of this initiative is that by the year 2030, new and renovated buildings will use no fossil fuels, and emit no greenhouse gases (GHGs - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, and PFCs).
Green Building Rating Systems
Green building rating systems attempt to evaluate and quantify environmentally friendly or “green” building design, construction and operations. The rating systems bring about awareness of more sustainable building practices and set standards that are verified.
EnerGuide was developed by the federal Office of Energy Efficiency, part of Natural Resources Canada. It is an official rating system, based on a scale of 0 to 100, to denote the energy consumption or energy efficiency of appliances, heating and cooling equipment, homes, and vehicles. A home with an EnerGuide rating of 0 would have indicate it has major leakages and no insulation, whereas a home with a rating of 100 would be producing as much energy as it consumes indicating it is operating at the most optimum energy efficiency possible.
Energy Star is an international symbol of energy efficiency. The Energy Star symbol helps consumers quickly and easily identify major appliances and other energy-using equipment that save energy. Energy Star identifies products as the top high efficiency performer in their category.