Why Building Green Matters
By Pat Rediger
Home owners are increasingly thinking “green” when planning their home renovations and builds. From reducing their water consumption and annual heating costs to using more environmentally-friendly construction products, home owners are looking for new and innovative ways to reduce their home’s carbon footprint and are expecting home builders to do the same.
Dakine Home Builders Inc. is the first and only home builder in Saskatchewan to be a member of Built Green Canada, a national organization that recognizes and promotes environmentally-friendly residential construction practices, including improving indoor air quality, reducing electrical and water consumption, and diminishing our overall environmental footprint. They are also a member of the Regina & Region Home Builders’ Association.
“We believe that green building is more than just building an energy efficient home,” says Todd Bodnar, President and Owner of Dakine Home Builders Inc. “Disposing of waste in an environmentally-friendly manner is crucial to the survival of our planet.”
Bodnar says that Saskatchewan’s construction industry alone generates an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of waste every year, and about 80 per cent of that waste can be diverted from landfills using the basic green ideas that everyone is now familiar with: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Dakine uses only steel beam construction in its houses as they are recyclable when they reach their end life, do not require glues, pesticides, or preservative treatments to prevent rot, and require less overall raw material waste compared to wood beams. They also reduce waste by using the shortest route possible when roughing in plumbing and electrical outlets and choosing suppliers who sell environmentally-friendly products and use either reusable or recyclable packaging materials.
However, the company does not stop there. They also use local suppliers to reduce fuel consumption and pollution levels associated with long-haul transportation; opt for pre-assembled products whenever available to cut down on on-site construction waste; have staff members responsible for selecting materials leftover on their construction sites for either reuse (including donations to Habitat for Humanity and using cut-down lumber for blocking at other sites) or recycling; and always setting up recycling bins at their job sites.
Of course, each of their homes, like many other home builders in the province, are built to current Energy Star program specifications, using low-flow toilets and taps to reduce water consumption, motion sensors and timed light switches to reduce electrical consumption, and zone control systems, which increase a home’s energy efficiency, so that a smaller furnace can be installed to reduce the home’s overall heating costs and requirements.
Amazingly enough, these are still just a few of the practices Dakine employs every day to ensure that they build homes that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. They also hope that being a member of Built Green Canada will encourage others in the industry to do the same.
“From start to finish, we look for ways to minimize waste during construction, and we are constantly researching new technologies, looking for ways to improve our building practices,” says Bodnar. “Built Green Canada is all encompassing, taking into consideration not only a member’s building practices but their business practices as well. They understand that showing leadership in sustainability takes a holistic approach that includes the preservation of natural resources, the reduction of pollution, and the improvement of ventilation and air quality. We hope that through our continued involvement with Built Green, we can encourage more Saskatchewan builders to become members. After all, sustainable communities are something everyone should take a vested interest in.”
Of course, some will argue that the costs associated with green building practices are cost-prohibitive to both the home builder and home owner. However, Bodnar disagrees saying, “Many associate environmental sustainability with expense; however, it is quite the opposite. When we prevent physical waste, increase energy efficiency or improve resource productivity, we in fact save money, improve profitability, and bring about true value for our customers.”
That isn’t to say that all green technologies are inexpensive; there are some that are more expensive than their less environmentally-friendly counterparts. “That’s why it is important, as a builder,” adds Bodnar, “to know your facts, understand the purpose for the technology being requested, understand the cost versus benefit, and help your customer make an informed decision.”
“Technology has advanced in such a manner that we don’t have to just accept waste as part of doing business,” says Bodnar. “We know the building process impacts the environment and ecosystem surrounding the build site, so we don’t offer environmentally friendly building practices as an option. We incorporate those practices as a standard whenever possible. It’s a cost that we absorb as a company. In a world where many operate under the assumption that the environment is an endless source of resources and a limitless depository for waste, coupled with a market that is highly competitive and profit driven, this practice isn’t always easy. But it’s one we can’t afford to ignore.”
For more information, visit Dakine Home Builders.