Sustainable BIZ Canada | February 26, 2024
Wendy C. Macdonald, P.Eng., ENV SP, LEED® AP BD+C | Sustainability Consultant

When envisioning a sustainable future, the importance of holistic thinking cannot be emphasized enough. The building industry is being called on to be mindful and accountable for our creations of people’s indoor environments affecting our global environment.

We have the power to transform buildings into remarkable structures and it is hopeful to envision buildings as contributing to our health and well-being while simultaneously being among the solutions to the climate crisis.

The word “economy” evolved from the Greek words for household and management. At its core, a sustainably built environment is one that actively manages our home (in the broadest sense).

The lines between planet and self blur as we inhale and ingest. After a lengthy period of forgetfulness, it is time for us as humans to remember our role within the greater community which includes the birds, bugs, air, land and water that support our lives and well-being.

At the same time, we are looking to rapid construction to address the current housing crisis: home has taken on new meaning for many with inadequate housing.

Canada’s built environment sector is the third-highest carbon-emitting economic sector and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with buildings accounting for 13 per cent of the total GHG emissions and up to 18 per cent when including electricity-related emissions.

Among the many challenges is the daunting task of retrofitting billions of square feet of existing buildings to meet Canada’s 2030 and 2050 carbon targets. If we wish to ensure the long-term survival of the modern life many of us currently enjoy, we must value the natural environment it relies upon by deeply valuing thoughtful, future-thinking design.

Systems and sweaters

Imagining a building in relationship to its surroundings helps break down siloed thinking. When we humans are cold, we put on a sweater (insulation), drink hot tea (transferring heat to the inside) and face the sun (radiant heating).

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