Fighting Climate Change With Green Building Standards

Localities in Canada's Durham Region are implementing green building regulations to promote sustainable development and reduce resource use.

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November 24, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Green Buildings

Tom Grundy / Shutterstock

Officials in Southern Ontario's Durham Region are implementing green building standards into their development application and review processes, writes Jennifer O'Meara. The rules are designed to encourage developments that "reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build infrastructure that is resilient to future climate change and create a healthier environment for residents, according to a statement from the municipality."

Supporters say the regulations will reduce energy and water use, raise property values, and create jobs. But O'Meara writes that builders have expressed concern that the requirements will raise the cost of production and, consequently, the cost of housing for home buyers.

According to Cameron Richardson, Ajax supervisor of environmental sustainability and climate change, buildings in the region "are second only to transportation as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, so a municipal green standard for new development and redevelopment within the town would be vital in addressing the climate change emergency and achieving the targets that have been endorsed." 

Green building standards are proliferating in both the U.S. and Canada as cities strive to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and investors demand sustainability as a key component of new developments. Meanwhile, housing advocates caution that eco-friendly development can also lead to "eco-gentrification:" the creation of green enclaves that ignores the needs of low-income populations and concentrates the benefits of green building in wealthy areas.

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