EcoUrbia Network

a sustainability network

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about homes and buildings

by Dr. Freda Pagani

Buildings are responsible for the annual consumption of 40 per cent of the world's energy and materials (Roodman and Lenssen 1995). The fossil fuel energy used to extract, refine, fabricate, and deliver building materials contributes massively to global warming. However, the energy required to operate a building over its lifespan is many times greater than the energy consumed for its construction. Building construction worldwide consumes approximately 3 billion tonnes of raw materials annually (Roodman and Lenssen 1995).  Finally, building demolition in the Lower Mainland represents over one-third of the Region's solid waste stream and generates waste composed of potentially reusable or recyclable materials.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was developed by the US and Canada Green Building Councils.  It is a third-party certification program and an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It provides building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:

  1. sustainable site development
  2. water efficiency
  3. energy efficiency
  4. materials selection
  5. indoor environmental quality

IIn Canada, buildings represent more than a third of the GHG emissions, and the single most important opportunity to achieve significant GHG reductions.

did you know

  • 80% of the buildings that exist in Vancouver will exist in 2050.
  • Rehabilitating a building requires less energy than building a new one so fewer fossil fuels are wasted and less greenhouse gas is produced.
  • When you replace an existing house with a newly-constructed "energy efficient" house, it takes 35 YEARS before the energy savings pay back the energy consumption and carbon emissions created by building your new "green" house.
  • The hard costs of building new infrastructure to support sprawl is bankrupting communities and competing with other needs such as transit.
  • Nationally, there is a $60 billion gap between money raised and money needed for municipalities to sustain infrastructure like sewer and water services.
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says that changing building standards to make communities more compact will net a 16% reduction in capital and infrastructure costs for a savings of $5,300/unit (1995 dollars).
  • It is cheaper to operate, maintain and replace infrastructure in compact communities. CMHC estimates savings of $11,000/unit over 75 years, a reduction of 9%.
  • A compact community of 7,000 homes will save a municipality $77 million over 75 years – or $1 million per year. Since there are 200,000 homes built in Canada every year,this adds up to $1.1 billion in savings each and every year.

north shore initiatives

other initiatives


agricultural impact

"The greenest building is the one that is already built."  (Carl Elefante, Architect)

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structures topics

-beekeeping (also food)
-backyard chickens (also food)
-green buildings
-greenroofs, greenskins
-population (also climate change)
-sustainable building materials
-urban sprawl



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