Consumers have grown accustomed to scanning for ENERGY STAR® stickers when shopping for new appliances. That blue label gives them reassurance that the refrigerator or air conditioning unit they’ve just purchased will be easy on the environment and their wallets.
But did you know that ENERGY STAR certification now extends to Ontario’s new mid- and high-rise residential buildings? Prospective buyers and tenants can narrow their search for a new home to an ENERGY STAR-certified building that ensures a healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient indoor environment.
EnerQuality, Canada’s leading certifier of energy-efficient housing, teamed up with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) in 2017 to develop the ENERGY STAR Multifamily program. Since 1998, the company has certified more than 100,000 energy-efficient single-family homes and has now set its sights on the rapidly evolving condominium and purpose-built rental markets.
Projects that meet ENERGY STAR’s rigorous standards are designed to be at least 15 percent more energy-efficient than those built to the provincial building code. Sustainable features may include high-performance windows, improved insulation and airtightness, efficient HVAC systems, and ENERGY STAR-certified lighting and appliances.
Condos and apartments that have earned the ENERGY STAR of approval benefit occupants in myriad ways. Air sealing provides a consistently comfortable temperature without drafts, while properly-sized HVAC systems ensure effective heating, cooling and ventilation. Indoor air quality has a direct correlation with health, and when maintained correctly, can aid sufferers of allergies, migraines, asthma, heart disease and other conditions. Plus, unit owners will save on their utility costs and may even enjoy higher resale values.
There are a number of under-construction projects throughout the GTA that are working towards ENERGY STAR certification, including Illumina Condos in Burlington. As the first multi-family high-rise in Ontario to register for the program, they will need to pass airtightness tests and achieve HVAC and mechanical commissioning and benchmarking requirements. By conserving energy, future residents of Illumina Condos will reduce fossil fuel consumption and help to offset greenhouse gas emissions — but the monthly savings don’t hurt either!
Builders who have been licensed by the Government of Canada can apply to have their buildings ENERGY STAR certified, a marker of energy-efficiency and reliability within the new construction market. The program is also more affordable than other green building certifications. The Molinaro Group, developer of Illumina Condos, estimates that it added less than 1 percent premium to the overall cost of construction.