Ways to Build Green

With so many green-building technologies and standards, it can be hard to get past the buzzwords and know what you’re investing in, or buying into. Here is a quick glossary of terms and references to help you tell green from greenwashing.

Net Zero Energy (or Zero Net Energy, ZNE): A term used for a building certified (the Canadian Home Builders’ Association is one such standard) to generate as much renewable energy on site each year as it consumes. As a result, Net Zero buildings contribute less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than similar conventional buildings. chba.ca

Passive building: A Passive building (or “Passivhaus” in the original German) is certified to be extremely energy efficient and consume an ultra-low amount of energy for heating or cooling (up to 90 per cent less than conventional buildings). Passive House Canada is the keeper of our country’s standard. passivehousecanada.com

BC Energy Step Code: An optional path, within the BC Building Code, that local governments can use to incentivize or require extra energy-efficient building, in advance of all new buildings required to be certified net-zero energy by 2032. energystepcode.ca

Energy Star: This government-backed program certifies new homes and a wide range of consumer products (from washers and dryers to windows and doors) that meet its standards of energy efficiency. The program offers rebates and incentives for purchasing some certified products. nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/energy-star-canada/18953

LEED: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard is the most widely used green-building rating system in the world. The Canadian Green Building Council administers the Canadian system, which can result in new home builders getting rebates on local utilities plus homeowner discounts on insurance. cagbc.org