Green building (sustainable building) development focuses on creating environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures with consideration to a building’s life cycle: design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Green buildings are designed to reduce overall impact on the human health and natural environment. Goals of green building include:
- sustainable site development,
- water efficiency,
- energy efficiency,
- materials selection,
- indoor environmental quality,
- operation and maintenance optimization, and
- waste reduction.
In Canada, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a system used to encourage the adoption of green building development. The LEED program includes benchmarks for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. It was adapted from the US Green Building Council LEED Green Building Rating System and tailored to the Canadian climates, construction practices and regulations.
Examples of sustainable building designs in Ottawa, Canada include the Canadian War Museum and the University of Ottawa’s School of Information Technology (SITE) buildings.
The Canadian War Museum building integrates the use of recycled materials, energy-efficient features and has a green roof. Energy-efficient features include an earth energy system which uses the water from the nearby Ottawa River for cooling in the summer. The water is also used to flush toilets and irrigate outside gardens. The plants on the roof help clean the air of the smog and air pollution. For more details on this sustainable design, click here.
The SITE building features an active solar thermal mass heating/cooling system in the precast hollow core concrete floor system. For more information on this project, click here.
Few building construction projects adopt the green building approach in Ottawa as, in general, it is more costly than traditional construction. So, what can municipalities do to promote green building? One option is to adjust building permit fees and development charges. Lowering of these costs for sustainable buildings would encourage developers to adopt a green building approach.