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Standards and Training to Further Green Building

Standards and Training to Further Green Building

Advice for contractorStandards and Training to Further Green Building

Adopting sustainable building practices in Quebec means aligning with the ongoing global evolution. Makenzie Lystrup, director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, emphasized this vision by taking an oath on Carl Sagan’s book, reminding us that our planet is but a small pale blue dot amidst the vastness of the universe.

To safeguard our planet, proactive initiatives are essential—and one of these is green building—a significant step towards making a difference.

Why opt for sustainable building in Quebec?

green building

Source: Canva

Opting for green building in Quebec means actively contributing to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. In residential areas, it accounts for 10.1% of the province’s total emissions.

Hence, green building is, more than ever before, necessary. School networks, municipal bodies, as well as companies are venturing into sustainable building. 

In the healthcare sector, 88% of institutions strive for energy efficiency. Nearly a third of all bids now include eco-friendly criteria. Ensuring the quality of the environment is paramount, but so is safeguarding its occupants. 

Companies functioning within the construction industry are no longer operating with blinders; they’re now prioritizing sustainable, high-performing, and safe building materials.

What are the environmental standards for sustainable buildings?

green building

Source: Canva

In Quebec, numerous organizations oversee green buildings. However, they, first and foremost, come up with assessment tools, guidelines, and handbooks, instead of standards, strictly speaking.  

The Government of Quebec brings to the forefront 6 organizations or handbooks to guide you into sustainable building practices:

  • LEED Home

  • CSA standard Z782-06 

  • BOMA BEST

  • Green Globes 

  • The Environmentally Responsible Construction and Renovation Handbook

  • Guide des options écolos (Guide to Eco-Friendly Options)

These initiatives all stem from Great Britain’s 1990 assessment, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), the pioneering tool used to evaluate and certify buildings based on their environmental impacts.

LEED Home

This globally recognized certification program stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

It concerns:

  • Building design

  • Sustainable materials 

  • Buildings’ high-performing status

This certification program operates on a points system awarding buildings with a platinum, gold, or silver rating. For existing buildings, the certification is valid for a period of 3 years, while new constructions are without an expiration date.

CSA Standard Z782-06

This standard states the guidelines for design disassembly and adaptability in buildings. Its purpose is to encourage companies to minimize the environmental and social impact caused by their actions by promoting a circular system that reprocesses end-of-life materials. As a result, it mainly targets waste management.

The guidelines established by this standard rely on the understanding of building performance in relation to environmental issues by construction industry stakeholders. It mainly targets:

  • Architects 

  • Managers 

  • Property owners

CSA standard Z782-06 doesn’t grant certifications.

BOMA BEST

This program is presented as a collection of standards and practices focused on making commercial buildings eco-friendlier. Hence, they aren’t legal standards, per se. 

As a matter of fact, BOMA Canada isn’t a branch of the Government of Quebec, but rather a national association representing commercial real estate agents. Companies are invited to participate on a voluntary basis.

Its goal is to facilitate the assessment of buildings’ energy efficiency, as well as environmental management, by property owners and administrators. 

It’s intended for the following buildings:

  • Commercial centres

  • Office buildings

  • Retail locations

  • Healthcare institutions

  • Residential buildings

  • Light industry

Program participation grants one of 5 BOMA BEST certifications. In Canada, 2,740 buildings have already been certified, of those, 410 are in Quebec.

This certification is valid for 5 years but is lowered to 3 years for single-family dwellings.

Green Globes

Green Globes is a web-based assessment tool that’s primarily used in Canada and in the United States, and is organized into two distinct parts:

  • New constructions

  • Sustainable designs

It mainly covers the following:

  • Commercial buildings

  • Institutions

  • Residential buildings 

  • Schools

  • Healthcare institutions 

  • Warehouses

Green Globes has a unique twist: self-assessment. It’s an online questionnaire paired with a manual. Certain documents must be submitted via the platform, such as:

  • Blueprints

  • Building’s life cycle assessment

  • Energy modelling

  • Rainwater management

  • etc. 

Green Globes has been used for more than 10 years in Canada and is certified by the General Services Administration (GSA), an American agency, which is responsible for assessing environmental building certification programs.

The Environmentally Responsible Construction and Renovation Handbook

green building

Source: Canva

When choosing sustainable building practices in Quebec, this handbook will provide clear guidance. It defines the materials and products that contribute to sustainable building practices and explains how to:

  • Improve indoor air quality

  • Reduce energy consumption

  • Manage water

  • Treat construction, demolition or renovation waste

For example, to safeguard your health, avoid using carpets as they harbour numerous chemical products and aren’t CRI-certified (The Carpet and Rug Institute).

Guide to Eco-Friendly Options

Here’s another sustainable building guide (Guide des options écolos), this one was issued by the APCHQ, an association grouping 3,200 construction and renovation industry professionals in Quebec. Its goal is to provide individuals with accurate information regarding how to: 

  • Reduce their ecological footprint

  • Manage their water consumption

  • Limit their energy consumption

  • Improve indoor air quality

  • Reduce their greenhouse gas emissions

  • Avoid wasting natural resources

For instance, you can contribute to preserving natural resources by opting for eco-friendly carpets, FSC-certified lumber (Forest Stewardship Council), or choosing aluminum shingles. The service life of the latter is 40 years, compared to asphalt shingles’ 15 to 20 years. 

Sustainable Building Policies for Businesses

green building

Source: Canva

Sustainable building relies on a societal change that can solely be achieved by the provincial government’s momentum. As a result, Quebec launched the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2023-2028. 

This Strategy includes policies aimed at the participating industries to improve environmental quality:

  • Sustainable construction

  • Water management

  • Material choices

  • Indoor air quality

The points mentioned above coincide with those monitored by certification organizations and those targeted by guides and handbooks we’ve already referenced.

This goes to show that all construction industry stakeholders agree on the same guidelines and work together to promote the growth of sustainable building practices. 

Since 2002, Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) encourages all building industry professionals to implement sustainable building practices in their projects. 

As part of this initiative, the CaGBC funds theses that focus on analyzing the life cycle of materials, waste management, or carbon tracking. Symposiums and conferences are centred around a circular economy. 

Most importantly, funding is allocated to businesses. As a result, the City of Montréal provides assistance to businesses engaged in construction and renovation projects that adhere to sustainable development principles. 

ESSOR is a provincial financial assistance program that helps growing businesses. One of its components is specifically designed to assist Quebec-based businesses in reducing their environmental footprint. 

Sustainable construction isn’t the sole focus of grants:

  • Hydro-Québec provides funding of up to 3 million dollars to improve the industrial processes of businesses.

  • The Fonds Ecoleader (eco-leader fund) provides up to $100,000 to help acquire clean technologies and develop eco-responsible business practices.

  • The Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources Naturelles (Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources) offers up to 40 million dollars to help reduce GHG emissions. 

  • Recyc-Québec offers a grant of $400,000 to help businesses treat waste materials.

  • Investissement Québec, partnering with the Compétivert initiative, assists businesses using clean technologies, and plans on funding between 1 and 5 million dollars. 

Information Regarding the Available Training

Bâtiment Durable du Québec (BDQ) is the go-to organization for training courses. It unites no less than 600 members from all trades, providing genuine expertise on the matter of sustainable building in Quebec. 

The training offered by the BDQ is qualifying since it leads to non-specific LEED credits that meet the requirements of the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The training covers the whole construction industry:

  • Life cycle of materials

  • Zero carbon building standards

  • Building’s shell

  • Mechanical and electrical systems

  • Green roofs

  • Bioclimatic

In addition, LEED and LEED v4 training courses are available.

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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