The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has released a new program that aims to improve green building standards and ensure builders and building owners are all on the same page.
The program, dubbed GREEN UP, sets benchmarks for water and energy use and sets strong targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It also offers information to builders and building owners on how to bring buildings in line in terms of environmental performance.
The program looks to help make building projects and existing structures more eco-friendly, a necessity given that a study titled Geared for Change: Energy Efficiency in Canada’s Commercial Buildings Sector, published in 2009 by NRTEE & STDC, suggested ‘deep efficiency measures’ could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from commercial buildings by as much as 50 to 60 per cent.
Currently, the country’s commercial building sector is responsible for some 65.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
GREEN UP will provide a national database that shows environmental performance data for a variety of buildings, including office buildings, multi-family dwellings, hotels, schools, government buildings and long-term health care facilities.
That information will be paired with visual aids that will allow users to compare their own buildings or building portfolios against other buildings, analyze the performance of their buildings and see benchmarks set by similar ENERGY STAR-rated buildings.
In so doing, builders and building owners can find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and determine the steps they can take to improve their buildings’ performance.
If greening their building were not enough of an incentive, CaGBC president and CEO Thomas Mueller noted that greening buildings can actually help the bottom line.
“Energy costs make up a significant percentage of overall operating expenses and should be a major concern for any building owner,” he said. “Measuring and benchmarking energy use is a first step in improving current practices. By giving those involved in managing buildings this comprehensive and accessible tool we are helping them identify where they can improve building performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The GREEN UP program also includes the ability to normalize data to take a variety of factors into account, easy categorization by building type and sub-type, access to interactive reports and decision guides that will help lead builders and building owners to making spending choices that will provide long-term benefits.
GREEN UP started as a pilot project in 2008 and its success led to a more complete roll-out of the program. Sandy Thomaes of CIBC, one of the companies who took part in the pilot project, spoke of its value.
“GREEN UP gives us an industry-wide perspective that we just couldn’t get on our own,” Thomaes said. “Being able to benchmark against other buildings shows us where we need to concentrate efforts for improvement which helps us to set new targets and develop a strategy to get there.”
Private demonstrations of the GREEN UP program can be arranged through the CaGBC, and webinars on the program have been planned throughout the summer. For more information on the program, visit www.cagbc.org/greenup