Ottawa is being transformed through the combined efforts of private sector developers and investors, new home builders and local renovators, working with municipal audit’s now been almost 20 years since the term “sustainable” first gained popularity and although most people had a vague notion of what it meant there wasn’t any clear definition.
It wasn’t for another 10 years that “sustainable” gave birth to a whole new generation of terminology that included the term “green”.
Over the past few years we have witnessed a green marketing wave of almost tidal proportions covering every aspect of western society.
One sector that seems to have made the most significant contribution to all things “green” is housing.
Housing projects can be heated and cooled with geothermal technologies that rely completely on the consistent below grade temperatures provided by mother nature or with high efficiency gas furnaces that only use a small amount of the energy consumed by earlier technology.
Electricity generation for all the mechanical and lighting systems can be achieved through the installation of solar photo voltaic in the form of panels or shingles that are almost indistinguishable from conventional asphalt applications.
Lights can be energy efficient fluorescent or LED types that consume only a small fraction of the energy previously used by incandescent bulbs. Hot water needs can be met through the use of solar thermal panels.
Landscaping is kept healthy with rainwater that is collected and stored in plastic underground cisterns.
The home is framed using timber grown on farms specifically intended for construction and the house is sheathed in panels made from scrap materials.
Trusses are computer designed to minimize the material required while maximizing strength.
Energy efficiency begins with the home being wrapped in a plastic membrane that allows moisture out but nothing to come in and the exterior building envelope can be clad in brick fired from local clay and/or a range of sidings manufactured from material that would have previously been discarded as scrap.
Windows are filled with a range of inert gases that minimize heat transfer during both heating and cooling seasons.
Paints are water soluble environmentally friendly solutions that are easier to apply and faster to dry than previously hazardous oil based coverings.
Finishing materials include exotic elements such as bamboo flooring famous for its rapid growth characteristics.
The list of green materials and approaches in housing is almost limitless and the housing industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas reductions over the past 10 years is second to none in the world.