Town of Whitby asking builders to bring green standard to developments

Click to play video: 'Whitby taking greener approach to building homes'
Whitby taking greener approach to building homes
The town of Whitby wants developers to come forward with greener proposals. In an initiative meant to help reduce greenhouse gases, the town is asking builders to volunteer a higher standard when building new homes. – Oct 21, 2020

The town of Whitby is hoping for a greener future in development, asking builders to volunteer higher standards when bringing forward building proposals.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see in a number of areas,” says Sarah Klein, Whitby’s director of strategic initiatives.

Whitby is one of the first municipalities in Durham region to adopt what it’s calling a ‘green standard initiative’. It’s all part of a greater goal of reducing greenhouse gases.

“How can they build a more sustainable community,” says Klein. “This makes more resilient homes and increases the value of them.”

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This comes after the town declared a climate emergency back in 2019. The idea is to set the bar high for developers, asking them to meet a number of steps in order to achieve a greener plan.

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“There are four tiers to the program,” says Klein. “The first tier is what we are asking them to achieve currently. But the other tiers we are looking to implement them  in four year increments.”

The other tiers, she said, are intended for use as education components to give developers a one-stop shop where they can find the criteria they need to build to a higher standard.

The goal is to improve the environmental performance of new development — a task that president of Lauker Homes, Kevin Lauzon, took on when he started building two ‘net zero’ homes in Whitby, referring to homes that produce as much energy as they consume.

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“We really took the cost equation out and said, what is the best way to achieve it,” says Lauzon, while touring the home.

Lauzon is currently building two ‘net zero’ homes. Although he says it’s been an expensive venture, the idea is to create a building that is able to self-sustain.

“It has the ability to produce as much energy as an average four-person family consumes. That’s just a gigantic calculation based on window and insulation efficiency,” said Lauzon, who applauds the town for the recommendation.

“I think it’s absolutely a requirement if we really care about reducing our carbon footprint.”

Lauzon says he takes energy efficiency seriously and has taken several steps to achieve it. He’s installed 50 solar panels on the roof that will harness power when needed.

“This will encompass dual Tesla power walls as far as a UPS backup power,” he said, while explaining the solar powered system. “So when these are fully charged, if there’s a power outage, this will charge a house hopefully for four days.

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On top of this is a complex HVAC system that will provide homeowners with filtered air, heating and cooling without a standard furnace. But he says one of the main things needed to create a true net-zero home is to fully insulate the home inside and outside.

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“The entire house is clad with one and a half inches of insulation,” he says.

The end result will see a robust insulation system which will help seal the home, filling all gaps where heat loss can occur in a regular house.

The town of Whitby says on top of energy efficiency, it also wants builders to look at other factors to help create a healthy environment for everyone.

“We want them to ask these questions, ‘Do you have green space associated?” says Klein with the town of Whitby. “Do you have storm water runoff or active transportation? So it’s very holistic to look at how we build a more sustainable community.”

Click to play video: 'Super-green home built on Vancouver Island'
Super-green home built on Vancouver Island

According to documents on the town’s website, the Whitby Green Standard is divided into two development review checklists.

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These are organized under sustainability principles. These include considerations such as land use and nature, energy and climate change, and other sustainability adjustments that developers can make.

Not all developers are excited about the idea, though.

“The development community has given some pushback to the initiative as it could affect their bottom line,” says Klein. “However, we are looking at an incentive program over the next year, to incent developers.”

The green standards are not mandatory, but are being encouraged for any proposals coming forward.

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