Built Green Canada Launches High Density Renovation Program Pilot

Leading up to Renovation Month, Built Green Canada launches its High Density Renovation Program pilot and is encouraging trials during this phase.

Four projects are already enrolled in this program, courtesy of Strategic Group’s office-to-residential repurposing projects in Calgary and Edmonton.

As the cost of entering the housing market continues to make home ownership a challenge, Canadians are looking at more affordably priced homes, while others who may have been considering buying up will remain in the home they’re in. There are also a growing number of Canadians turning to multi-family as an affordable option, whether renting or owning—either way, as a homeowner who remains in their current home or as property owner of an existing multi-family building, there is increased focus on upgrades and saving on operating costs.

This underscores the reality of Canada’s housing stock: new housing represents a small percentage of overall housing stock across the country. As Canadians and all orders of government are increasingly focused on climate mitigation, there is huge opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the economy through energy-efficient retrofits of older homes and buildings in Canada. A study by Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) revealed that older homes are the source of significantly more greenhouse gas emissions than newer homes.

Alongside Built Green’s Single Family Renovation Program, also applicable to multi-family low rise, the High Density (HD) Renovation Program offers builders a means to renovate high density and high density mixed-use buildings more sustainably. A BUILT GREEN® certified renovation benefits not only the environment but also the owners and occupants who will enjoy a healthier, more durable, and more affordable home through a reduction in the operating and maintenance costs.

To qualify for the HD Renovation program, substantial upgrades/retrofits must be made to the energy-related building systems, including the building envelope and the mechanical and electrical systems. The energy performance of the building’s upgrades and retrofits are then compared to the requirements of the current energy standard or energy code used for modeling with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 or NECB 2011 to show energy savings resulting from the renovation. Beyond efficiency, the renovations must be sustainable.

“Considerable time was spent contemplating how energy performance improvements would be quantified, given the multiple scenarios that renovations may present—we’re keen to work closely with industry to ensure we have guidelines that are appropriate, relevant, and fair,” says Built Green’s CEO Jenifer Christenson.“ Moreover, the program encourages a myriad of sustainable practices, including the reuse of building materials, as we recognize the reduced environmental impact, and therefore credit may be claimed through material usage and waste reduction.” As with Built Green’s other third-party certification programs, the High Density Renovation Program takes a holistic approach and maintains the same seven categories, including: energy efficiency, materials & methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, water conservation and business practices.

Strategic Group has four high density renovation projects enrolled in this pilot. Additionally, the company has two projects enrolled in Built Green High Density New Construction, while yet another project was certified in 2017.

In the summer of 2019, Strategic Group completed its first office-to-residential repurposing project in Calgary—a mixed-use building with 65 one- and two-bedroom suites in the inner-city community of the Beltline. Over the next year, Strategic Group will complete three more repurposing projects in Alberta.

One of those is the iconic Barron Building in downtown Calgary. When it opened in 1951, it was Calgary’s first high-rise at 12 stories. It marked a significant turning point in the oil and gas industry and was a symbol of Calgary’s economic, social and political growth. The 85,223 square foot office building is being repurposed into a mixed-use space with retail and 94 rental residences. Honouring the legacy of the Barron Building is an important component of this repurposing project. The company is preserving the art deco-styled exterior while building modern residences inside.

Built Green Canada welcomes industry’s continued input during this pilot phase and would like to thank the Integral GroupEnerspec Consulting, and Built Green’s Technical Standards Committee. This program is complementary to the leadership efforts of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s and CMHC’s “Get it in Writing” initiative.

For more information, contact Built Green Canada CEO Jenifer Christenson.