New green building standards in limbo at municipal hall 

Council calls for green building standards at last meeting as the Whistler Green program sits with staff

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"There really seems to be an appetite over the idea of building green, on council, in the community and really worldwide now," he added.

Only one building in Whistler has a certified green building rating from LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), perhaps the most widely recognized set of green standards. The Spring Creek Fire Hall was just recently awarded a silver LEED rating. The new Whistler Public Library, which is now in the design stage, will also be built to LEED standards.

The local building industry has also jumped on board the green building program, with homebuilder Rod Nadeau creating an Envirohome in Nordic Estates, using a different set of green standards known as R2000.

Whistler Green is a little different. It was designed to take components of LEED, which has a commercial and industrial focus, and R2000, which has an energy focus, and meld them together into one comprehensive set of standards.

"It’s a tool that local builders can take and apply directly to their work," said Wendy Horan, the waste reduction co-ordinator with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District who was involved in developing Whistler Green specifically for the waste management and waste reduction components.

"LEED has some shortfalls, R2000 has some shortfalls, and this (Whistler Green) is sort of bridging the gap between the two.

"Our department, being waste reduction focused, we saw lots of opportunity to build upon what R2000 already has and what LEED applies to commercial buildings, and incorporate it directly into a document that can be used to create a residential green building."

The Whistler Green program is divided into seven subject groups, listing both required and voluntary green criteria. The categories for achieving a green home are: site and landscape, energy, water, indoor environment, materials, waste and owner education.

Horan, who was focused on the waste category, gave input not only managing waste during the construction process, but also dealing with waste and recycling once the home is built.

"We see an enormous amount of construction material that’s fully reusable going into the landfills still, even though the tools are right there," she said. "So the pilot project (at Nita Lake)… would (be) great for showing local contractors that it is possible and it’s a good idea.

"If the construction community warms up to it, it’ll give us the ability to bring in more programs… like a construction demolition re-use it yard. If the community wants it and is going to use it, we can do that very easily."

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