From energy-efficient appliances to installing solar panels on roofs, making homes more sustainable and implementing green technology have been growing priorities among property owners. Eighty per cent of Canadians have said that sustainability is important to them when making renovation decisions and choosing building materials, according to insights from HomeStar’s 2021 Reno Report.
Even in new construction buildings, developers are harnessing green technology and sustainable materials to support environmentally-conscious living for residents.
Mark Cohen, managing partner of TCS Marketing Systems, explains that the new home industry has started to see buyers deliberately seek out properties that are more efficient and environmentally-conscious. Although developers have been slow to embrace this trend, he said that some home builders have now committed to the cause of creating healthier, eco-friendly spaces.
“From Passive Houses to smart homes, there are many ways developers are integrating green living into their new projects,” said Cohen.
“With low-rise and mid-rise homes, there are big strides being made in the design and construction of them to make them more environmentally-conscious. In high-rise, we are seeing a lot of technology being integrated that is in turn helping with lowering costs for the owners,” he added.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green rating system that is available for building and home-project types around the world, aiming to create sustainable buildings that save water, conserve energy and reduce waste and emissions. Since 2004, LEED has certified over 4,350 buildings and registered more than 8,500 buildings in Canada, the second-highest number globally.
Cohen notes that residential mass timber projects are becoming increasingly common among developers. Mass timber is a building material that consists of layers of wood that are glued or fastened together, and is considered to be a sustainable choice for its ability to sequester carbon dioxide. According to a 2021 mass timber report by Natural Resources Canada, there are 52 mass timber projects under construction in Canada and 412 that have been completed.
Cohen explained that developers have also been taking advantage of available technologies that reduce the costs of construction. However, there is still some learning to do in terms of explaining the long-term saving advantages to purchasers, he said.
Mike Bowring, president of Mutual Developments, said that new home buyers are looking for convenience and cost savings these days. At the company’s latest project in Scarborough, East Pointe, Bowring says that Mutual Developments has focused on integrating technology that offers buyers both options, not just as a selling point, but also as an aspect that buyers have started to expect in new developments.
“There are tremendous benefits for investors and end-user buyers with smart home technology, and while there is an education curve at the start, there has been a clear growing demand to continue to explore ways to make these new homes more sustainable, eco-friendly and cost efficient,” said Bowring.
Rossmount Green in Whitby is another new home project in the Greater Toronto Area that is taking advantage of green technologies and design. By using Passive House low-energy building standards, Shan Sivapragasam, president of Star Residence, says that the development will be three times more efficient than a typical condo building. The project will also provide lower energy costs, lower maintenance costs and individual metering in every suite.
“Forward-thinking developers are responding to the benefits that Passive House presents to buyers, such as financial and environmental advantages,” said Sivapragasam. “Their world-renowned technology has become the global standard for building homes that are more energy efficient. A project like Rossmont Green is a certified green condominium with sustainable technologies that will help residents live a healthier life and save money each month.”
Much of the green technology adoption and innovation has come from the commercial development sector, Cohen said, but residential projects have followed suit, such as projects like Aquabella, which integrated solar-generated power in its design. Construction materials that were considered to be bulky and unappealing have now gained popularity in the residential segment for their environmental friendliness.
In early 2022, Cohen says that TCS Marketing Systems will be bringing to market another green-focused project. He feels that the growth potential is exponential for developers to include green technology into future residential projects, seeing that it brings value for builders, buyers and communities alike.
“Finding ways to reduce maintenance costs, energy usage and costs associated with building are just some of the advancements we would love to see in new projects,” said Cohen.
“The past decade has seen a lot of advancement in this area of green building and with the environment being top of mind in 2021, it is time we focus on being mindful of how we are impacting it through our industry,” he added.