Green & Sustainable Building
The Town of Collingwood supports environmentally sustainable building technologies and materials that satisfy the Ontario Building Code. Green building features may include:
• sustainable, durable and low maintenance building design and operation
• energy and water efficiency
• attention to indoor and outdoor air quality
• use of recycling and conservation in building materials and products
Are you thinking of adding green building features into your home? Building permits may be required.
The Building Code Act and Ontario Building Code control the construction of buildings in Ontario. Property owners must get a building permit before the installation of green building technologies. The Act also requires manufacturers, suppliers and retailers make sure that products comply with the standards prescribed by the Building Code.
Click the links below for information about permits for projects that bring together these green technologies.
Canadian green builders have a few options to choose from when selecting a green building certification or rating system. Programs have been created to fit certain niches, such as existing or new buildings, commercial or residential buildings and comprehensive or specific assessments.
The following is a complete list of the different green building certification / rating systems operating in Canada, listed alphabetically.
Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada have developed BOMA BEST (Building Environmental Standards) to assess energy and environmental performance for existing buildings (offices, shopping centres, open air retail plazas, light industrial buildings and multi-unit buildings), using the Green Globes environmental assessment platform (see below). BOMA BEST assesses environmental performance and management over the following ten areas: energy, water, air, comfort, health and wellness, custodial, purchasing, waste, site and stakeholder engagement.
BREEAM is a widely recognized environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. This international system measures performance against established benchmarks over a number of categories, such as energy, water, health and well-being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, land use, innovation and management processes.
Built Green Canada is a national certification program focused on residential building. This includes single-family homes and high density buildings as well as renovations. A built-communities program is in its pilot phase. In their assessments, Built Green accounts for: energy and envelope, materials and methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and building practices.
EnerGuide is straightforward 0 to 100 rating system, backed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), measures a home’s energy performance only, so it’s specifically for users wanting to focus on this particular aspect of a home’s construction, or for those considering energy performance in their renovation and upgrade projects. EnerGuide homes have had their plans evaluated by a certified energy advisor. Energuide evaluations provide homeowners with “a government-backed energy efficiency rating and label” for their homes.
ENERGY STAR® for New Homes is also backed by NRCan. The label ensures homes are performance tested, third-party verified and government backed. ENERGY STAR® homes’ energy efficiency improvements are mostly hidden—better insulation, high-performance windows, tighter air sealing—but very effective at improving home performance. ENERGY STAR® qualified homes are built to be 20% more energy efficient (in terms of space and water heating) compared to one built to local building codes. Builders are required to meet minimum efficiency standards, but may then choose two “paths” to certification, both of which allow them flexibility in terms of energy upgrades.
Green Globes is an assessment and rating system is administered by GB Initiative Canada. It covers new construction as well as renovation projects, and is used on a wide variety of commercial and public building types. Green Globes is an online, interactive tool with automated reporting that significantly reduces the time and cost of submissions. This is an in-house self-assessment tool, wherein users, in consult with their project managers and design teams, submit answers about construction choices through an online questionnaire. The project is awarded points, but the system also offers practical guidance and strategies. The project input can be changed as often as desired before verification.
Green Key Eco-Rating Program is a program specifically for hotels and other lodging facilities, the Green Key Eco-Rating Program is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. It provides environmental audits and recommendations for decreasing emissions, waste and energy use.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized third-party certification program for buildings and homes. It’s administered in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). LEED adopts a holistic approach to sustainability, accounting for the following five areas: location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Ratings of certified, silver, gold or platinum are awarded according to a comprehensive 100-point rating system. LEED offers a few different rating systems, each of which includes requirements as well as optional credits that can be used towards certification. LEED-certified buildings and homes result in healthier environments, lower operating costs and a reduced impact on the environment.
Living Building Challenge is equal parts philosophy, advocacy platform and certification program. The intent is to define priorities not just on a technical level, but as a set of core values to direct the building industry towards truly understanding how to solve problems rather than just shifting them. This performance-based standard promotes regional solutions that respond to different variables rather than being a checklist of best practices. The challenge covers seven areas: place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity and beauty.
Net Zero Home Labelling Program is a Canadian Home Builders’ Association initiative, the Net Zero Labelling Program both sets out technical requirements for and recognizes 2 tiers of homes (new or retrofitted, including low-rise Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) that reach stringent energy performance standards.
The second-tier label, Net Zero Ready, is applied to homes that have energy performance levels between 50 and 80% better than homes built to the applicable standard building code. The first tier of labels, Net Zero, is reserved for homes that are 100% more energy efficient than ones built to the applicable code. Homes produce as much energy as they consume and feature filtered fresh air systems and water-saving technology.
Passive House is a certification system focuses on optimizing a home or building’s envelope to maintain heat through: super-insulation, air tightness, high performance windows, efficient heat recovery ventilation and by minimizing thermal bridges. With this focus on optimizing building envelope, Passive House has a high standard in terms of lowering heating energy consumption: Passive House buildings “consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings.” It’s a good choice for builders targeting passive design and wanting strong heating energy efficiency.
Passive Solar Index is an index that helps new builds and renovation projects optimize their building envelopes to maximize energy performance without having to meet stringent Passive House criteria. Buildings that achieve energy consumption levels of less than 50 kWh per square meter (whether the building is new or existing) receives recognition. That number represents a 50% reduction in energy use compared to the national building code.
R-2000 is another standard administered by NRCan. R-2000 measures energy efficiency, indoor air tightness quality and environmental responsibility in home construction, promising energy savings, reduced environmental impact, improved home health and comfort.
SITES Rating System certification from the Sustainable SITES Initiative focuses on sustainable land and water use and evaluates the building site rather than the building or major renovation project. It works on a points system, where GCBI (Green Business Certification Inc.) measures projects against performance criteria and awards points that will determine the project’s level of certification. Performance criteria include air quality, wildlife habitat, energy consumption, water use and human health. Applications can be submitted either in full or as a split review, where applications are submitted and reviewed at the end of the design phase and at the end of building.
TRUE Zero Waste is a GBCI program focusing on waste output, this certification is about changing values as well as practices. It’s geared towards existing public buildings and encourages owners and management teams to adopt zero waste cultures. Facilities work towards certification by meeting program requirements and earning points. Program requirements include diverting a minimum of 90% of solid, non-hazardous wastes from landfills for a period of 12 consecutive months. Points categories include zero-waste purchasing, composting, reuse, leadership, innovation and many more.
Zero Carbon Building Standard is a Canada Green Building Council Standard that evaluates new and existing buildings by carbon emissions, with the goal of buildings reaching a zero carbon balance. Homes and small multi-family residential buildings are not eligible. New builds can earn Zero Carbon Building – Design certification by meeting thresholds for factors including onsite renewable energy, energy efficiency and thermal energy demand performance. Energy consumption and emissions from structural materials must also be assessed.
Existing buildings can earn Zero Carbon Building – Performance certification after successfully meeting requirements for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions over a 12-month period. Continued certification depends on annual performance reviews.
Zero Energy Certification is the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy Building (ZEB) Certification™ program that recognizes buildings whose energy needs are met entirely through on-site renewable energy. The program works by assessing the building’s energy performance itself. Independent, third-party audits measure a building’s performance data over 12 consecutive months. ILFI works with several organizations that offer subsidies and rebates for renewable energy. Projects can obtain a Reveal label that’s posted on the website and that can be mounted on the building itself. The label verifies and states the project’s energy use intensity, zero energy performance index and reduction in energy use (when compared to baseline). There are no minimum requirements for energy efficiency – the label simply gives the building’s energy performance data according to the above metrics.
Zero Tool – An Architecture 2030 project, the Zero Tool is a way to measure energy use intensity (EUI). It uses data from Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS 2003) to allow builders to compare their EUI baselines and targets with similar buildings. The tool is also a knowledge-sharing program that gives builders information about how other buildings achieved their EUIs. Builders input information about their project and the Zero Tool assigns the building a Zero Score out of 100, with a score of 100 representing the typical energy performance of buildings from the 2003 CBECS and a score of zero representing a building that has achieved net zero carbon.
Canada Greener Homes Grant provides funds for home evaluations and for retrofits, to a total of $5,600. Homeowners are eligible for up to $600 total for the cost of pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluations and for up to $5,000 total for the implementation of eligible retrofits such as home insulation, windows doors, and air sealing. It is important that you read all eligibility criteria and grant requirements to be sure that you will qualify for reimbursement at the end of the process.
Enbridge Home Efficiency Rebate Program provides help for income-qualified homes to rebates for energy-efficient upgrades such as:
- Air Sealing
- Home assistance
- Home energy audit
- Increasing attic insulation
- Windows and doors
- Water heater
- Smart thermostat
Ontario Renovates Program ncludes funding for urgent repairs, renovations, and accessibility modifications for low to moderate income homeowners. Funding of up to $15,000 per unit is available. Accessibility modifications are particularly beneficial for seniors to allow them to 'age in place' and persons with disabilities who require unit modifications.
Save on Energy's Energy Affordability Program provides support to income-eligible electricity consumers by helping them to lower their monthly electricity costs and to increase their home comfort.
If you are exploring options to heat and cool your home or reduce your energy bills, you might want to consider a heat pump system. Heat pumps are a proven and reliable technology in Canada, capable of providing year-round comfort control for your home by supplying heat in the winter, cooling in the summer, and in some cases, heating hot water for your home.
Refer to the NRCan website for more information
In residential applications, solar energy is most commonly used to:
• Heat water for domestic use
• Provide primary and supplemental heating of dwellings
• Generate electricity using solar photovoltaic [PV] technologies
• Heat water for use in swimming pools and spas
Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems (SDHW)
Building permits are required for the installation of all solar domestic hot water systems.
The Ontario Building Code regulates two types of solar energy systems used for heating domestic potable water:
• Non-packaged systems are designed as complete systems but are made up of individual components not tested or evaluated together as a proprietary system.
• Factory packaged SDHW systems generally consist of a complete series of assembled components which provide solar pre-heated water to a domestic hot water storage tank through the use of solar thermal collectors, heat transfer exchangers (utilizing a liquid heat transfer media and potable water) and include all appropriate plumbing and electrical controls to affect the transfer. These systems must be certified by a recognized testing agency.
Building Permit Requirements Non-Packaged SDHW Systems:
These systems must be designed by a professional engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario with good engineering practice. Permit applications for non-packaged systems must include two copies each of the following:
1. Plumbing schematic of the entire system including connection details to the potable water system.
2. The location, size and weight of the solar collectors and the method of installing them to the building.
3. System component specifications including any testing or evaluation data.
4. A statement from a professional engineer certifying that the proposed system conforms to the intent of CSA International Technical Information Letter MSE-45 (as amended), the referenced standards applicable to SDHW components listed in Table 1 of the TIL and the intent of the requirements for SDHW systems in the Ontario Building Code.
All documents must be stamped and signed according to practice standards by Professional Engineer’s Ontario.
Building Permit Requirements Packaged SDHW Systems:
Permit applications for factory packaged systems must be accompanied by the following:
1. Drawings (schematic are acceptable) of the entire system including details of the connection to the potable water system
2. The location, size and weight of the solar collectors and the method of installing them to the building
3. Evidence that the system has been tested and certified by CSA
Installation Requirements for both Non-Packaged and Factory Packaged SDHW Systems:
Installation of these systems will be done by a qualified installer certified by the Canadian Solar Energy Industry Association or will be inspected and certified by a professional engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario.
Solar Photovoltaic [PV] Systems
Building permits are required for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems [arrays] except for the following:
1. Arrays mounted independently from a building on a pole or supporting structure
Wind energy systems are generally broken into two main applications.
1. Large scale operations that provide power to the local utility grid, similar to hydro or natural gas electrical generation facilities. Turbines clustered together into ‘wind farms’ that produce energy for many buildings or communities.
2. Small scale operations provide local, on-site power to a home or business. Turbines are placed at the same site where the electricity will be used. Any additional energy that is generated, exceeding the needs of the user, can be sent to the local electrical grid with their permission.
Building permits are required for the following:
o For the installation of any wind turbine generator that is attached to a building
o For any structure used to support a wind turbine generator with a rated output of more than 3kW;
Visit the following website for more information on wind energy:
• Ministry of Energy (Renewable Energy)
• Ministry of Natural Resources
• Canadian Wind Energy Association
The 2012 Ontario Building Code permits using storm sewage or greywater to flush toilets, urinals and for priming traps.
A permit is required prior to installing either system.
Storm sewage is water that has been discharged from a surface as a result of rainfall, snow melt or snowfall and collected for use.
Greywater is sanitary sewage from sinks or bathtubs.
Both storm sewage and greywater are considered non-potable sources of water so it is important to note that these systems must be clearly and permanently marked and cannot be interconnected with a potable water system.
You can place a rain barrel at the end of the downspout from your roof to collect stormwater for your lawn, garden, or plants on your property.
You can have a rain barrel next to your foundation, but the overflow hose should be directed at least six feet away from any foundations. In the fall, rain barrels should be disconnected. The water should be diverted to lawns and gardens at least two metres (six feet) away from the foundation.
A building permit is not required for a rain barrel.
Soakaway pits (dry wells), infiltration chambers and trenches
Soakaway pits, infiltration chambers and trenches create space underground where rainwater collects and soaks slowly into the ground. They are not recommended where stormwater runoff quality is polluted.
• Infiltration chambers are large, plastic, open-bottomed devices with perforated sides. They’re generally located beneath parking lots or other impervious areas. They temporarily store stormwater runoff and release it slowly into the ground.
• Infiltration trenches are long and narrow, and are often installed alongside or beneath walkways, sidewalks and narrow patches of land between buildings where there is no basement area.