Green Building

  • The North Shore Credit Union Environmental Learning Centre, Squamish, B.C.
    The North Shore Credit Union Environmental Learning Centre, Squamish, B.C.
    UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, Vancouver, B.C.
    UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability, Vancouver, B.C.
    Photo: Don Erhardt
    Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility, University of British Columbia
    Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility, University of British Columbia
    Photo: Don Erhardt

The ultimate goal of green design is to achieve sustainability and open up new opportunities to design and build structures that use less energy, water and materials, and minimize impacts on human health and the environment. Green design embodies a holistic, integrated and multidisciplinary approach in which every decision is evaluated against multiple criteria to find the best solution.

Green building rating systems

Environmental rating systems can help building industry professionals evaluate and differentiate their product or design. The standards set by rating systems generally exceed those required by building codes.

The best systems measure performance rather than prescribe solutions and are based on life cycle assessment. They offer a credible, consistent basis for comparison, evaluate relevant technical aspects of sustainable design and should not be too complex or expensive to implement or confusing to communicate.

Wood can help to earn points in categories typically found in green building rating systems— including certified wood, recycled/reused/salvaged materials, local sourcing of materials, waste minimization, indoor air quality, advanced building techniques and skills and life cycle impacts.

Light commercial, mid-rise, multi-family and single-family residential projects with extensive use of wood have achieved top-level certification under LEED, Green Globes and other green building certification systems. The objective of these systems is to educate and to promote practices that ultimately create structures with minimal environmental impact, greater energy efficiency and excellent indoor air quality.

For those who wish to incorporate green building practices, a number of tools and rating systems are available. Among the most prominent programs are:

Building codes and standards 

Green building codes allow government regulators, building professionals and consumers to embrace green building with confidence. In some cases, codes are written so local governments can adopt them as bylaws to reduce the local environmental impact of buildings.

Green building codes are legal requirements that mandate prescriptive or performance requirements as part of building codes. Two examples are:

Green building standards set pass-fail levels of performance. Three examples are: