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Built Green Canada launches Communities Program pilot with new Alberta development

John Bleasby
Built Green Canada launches Communities Program pilot with new Alberta development
AVERTON — An artist's rendering of one of the townhouse structures within the new community development in Alberta called Midtown-Averton.

Built Green Canada, a national, industry-driven, non-profit organization offering third-party certification programs for sustainable practices in the residential building sector, has announced its first Communities Program pilot.

Built Green Canada has enjoyed growing recognition and acceptance within the residential construction industry for its holistic approach to energy, environmental and lifestyle issues that includes training, education and certification for builders.

The Communities Program expands Built Green Canada’s principles by offering residential builders a development-wide framework.

In order to qualify under the pilot, the community must consist of three or more buildings. At least 50 per cent of the structures must be residential units. The program’s checklist of options considers site location, layout and design, energy systems, water management, materials and waste management, health and wellness, and business practices and innovation.

The Communities Program objectives include being achievable, practical as well as measurable and verifiable. At the same time, efforts have been made to make these objectives flexible and affordable, says Built Green Canada’s CEO Jenifer Christenson.

“Considerable time was spent contemplating how to develop a program that maintains Built Green’s guiding principle, given that community development is inherently complicated, and no two communities are the same.”

Averton, a residential builder with projects in Alberta and Ontario, is the first company to enrol a development in the new Built Green program.

Located in the City of St. Albert, northwest of Edmonton, Averton’s Midtown project is now under construction — a 45-acre, master-planned community featuring a diverse range of housing types, neighbourhood-scale commercial buildings and abundant open spaces. The mix of owned and rental residences will have distinct architectural forms.

“The communities pilot offers the consistency and clarity that Built Green’s other programs have around process, areas of focus and options available,” says Paul Lanni, Averton’s president. “Our commitment to fostering relationships with all stakeholders and partners is supported by our partnership with Built Green.”

A key component of Midtown’s design is sustainable development. It features physical elements such as open and shared spaces, street designs that recognize age, mobility and safety, along with reduced speed limits to encourage connections at all levels. Beyond the community itself are links to St. Albert’s open space and trail system, the city’s downtown and several public assets and facilities.

Built Green Canada’s Communities Program is the result of work developed by a steering committee comprised of sustainability consultants, builders and developers, alongside Built Green Canada’s Technical Standards Committee.  Built Green ultimately settled on criteria that sees the convergence of three key benefits: environmental, economic and societal. 

While the program was already in development prior to COVID-19, Built Green says the pandemic makes the launch all the more relevant today.

“Many people are spending more time inside their home as they adjust to other ways of doing business, while social connections are encouraged to occur outside, expanding the focus to the outside of the home and to the health of communities,” Built Green Canada says.

“Though we understand the COVID-19 pandemic extends far beyond a health crisis, the trajectory of our communities and economies is difficult to anticipate, recover from and prepare for, should future waves come,” says Christenson.

The certification offered by Built Green Canada is important in that it not only verifies all elements meeting Built Green criteria, but gives builders a marketing edge over their competition through recognised authenticity.

Under its current individual homebuilding programs, Built Green offers four levels of achievement —Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum — each requiring incremental increases in both energy performance scores and overall checklist points listed in the various sections of the program.

“Consistent with the framework of Built Green’s other programs, the communities program was created to provide a simple, well-researched, independent, and impactful approach to sustainable communities,” says Matt Grace, chair of Built Green Canada’s Technical Standards Committee. “We hope developers will find it easy to use and instinctive, while providing valuable guidance and direction.”

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