Friday, Apr. 21, 2023
A Golden Opportunity for Sterling Homes
Edmonton builder partners up for third-party certified homes
It began with an exceptional air-tightness score.
Sterling Homes Edmonton has been providing single family homes to Edmonton and area for 70 years and is one of the city’s best-selling builders; they were confident their houses were well-built. But after reviewing those blower door test results, they saw a golden opportunity to really showcase their commitment to sustainable building practices—and the positive results.
Here began the Edmonton division of Sterling Homes’ partnership with Built Green Canada in early 2022, which now sees all their new homes undergo third-party certification. Already, they’ve put 45 homes through BUILT GREEN®. While the whole management team was behind the decision to design BUILT GREEN® into their building specification, support for the program started at the top, with Vice President, Brent Bommes.
“We realized we could get credit for our environmentally friendly practices and provide added value to our homebuyers through educating on the benefits of the program—showing how their new home is verified as a better product,” says Bommes. “We’ve found Built Green Canada to be a reliabfle source of guidance and certification—a non-profit on a mission to improve sustainable building practices across Canada: they’re a trustworthy partner for us.”
Sterling was doing the work; why not verify it—and see where they could improve further? As part of the process for BUILT GREEN® single family new home certification, Energy Advisors licensed through Natural Resources Canada are contracted to assess the home’s energy efficiency and provide its EnerGuide label. Bommes likens it to having a coach who guides responsible practices on creating homes that are better for the environment. Meanwhile, the BUILT GREEN® Checklist provides a framework for a holistic approach that covers a range of critical aspects of green building beyond energy performance—and Built Green’s office provides further guidance.
Bommes says all this factored significantly in their decision to partner with Built Green and continues: “We feel supported in our journey towards becoming a more sustainable builder. And we see BUILT GREEN® certification as a win-win-win: for the environment, the home builder, and the homeowners.”
Jenifer Christenson, Built Green Canada’s CEO, says that there are any number of reasons why a builder chooses to certify their builds. Some may be struggling to meet ongoing building code advancements and looking for support; others are well beyond code and determined to improve their practices: taking pride in providing projects that are as sustainably built as possible; while others join because their municipality has mandated that homes built on city lots receive BUILT GREEN® certification. Whatever the reason, these programs help builders, renovators, restorers, and developers gain a competitive edge over their competitors—and bragging rights.
“We’re thrilled to work alongside Sterling Homes—they’re a reputable, long-established company,” says Christenson. “Building sustainably, coupled with their commitment to affordability, makes them more relevant than ever.”
For Sterling Homes Edmonton, there were numerous areas of program interest, which would benefit them and their customer. By encouraging energy-efficient technologies, sustainable building materials, and minimized waste, Sterling says the BUILT GREEN® program helped them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful environmental impacts associated with construction. Meanwhile, they recognize that, with greener houses, their homeowners can reduce their own carbon footprint, alongside their utility bills.
The program highlighted areas where Sterling could also further contribute to their customer’s quality of life, including improving occupant comfort with improved air quality and reduced drafts and exterior noise; good building envelopes, alongside attention to ventilation and overall indoor air quality—all are key to a healthier, more efficient home.
Another place the two organizations’ visions meet is around affordability—a key pillar for both. Sterling Homes, a member of Qualico Group, and a large-volume builder, recognizes that part of their ability to deliver family-friendly budgets is thanks to volume-purchasing power for materials, trades, and land. Part of it is around making smart choices: much like sustainability. Many of the program choices aren’t more expensive, but do require conscious decision making, which makes a big difference on how sustainable the home is going to be.
Learning is part of the process, for the builder and their trades. And, as a high-volume builder striving for ongoing improvement, Sterling Homes has found numerous opportunities to adjust. They aim for BUILT GREEN® Gold certification or higher, so their customers can access the mortgage loan insurance partial refund of 25 per cent (starting at a minimum of 20 per cent improvement in energy performance) through CMHC, Sagen, Canada Guaranty, and others.
Sterling has received very positive feedback from customers. When they present homeowners with their home’s BUILT GREEN® certification and inform them of the 25 per cent rebate on mortgage fees, they’re thrilled to receive a government rebate on the home’s energy efficiency. This provides customers with even more incentive to choose a BUILT GREEN® certified home—and helps Sterling’s sales and marketing team showcase the value and benefits of sustainable building practices.
Sterling recognizes that owning a home can come with unexpected expenses, particularly in the beginning stages. That 25 per cent back rebate on mortgage fees has helped their new homeowners transition more smoothly, offsetting costs. Sterling feels that providing this added benefit demonstrates their commitment to making sustainable homeownership accessible and affordable for all their customers.
Meanwhile, once a month, the entire Sterling Edmonton team is updated on how many home certifications they’ve achieved and are very engaged in these wins. No wonder, as studies continue to reveal that staff retention improves at companies offering a sense of working toward a higher goal. Employees want to feel they’re making a larger contribution—and Sterling Homes is.