EcoAction success stories: home sweet home goes green

People watching a demonstration

Move over design shows! Today’s savvy do-it-yourselfers and homeowners want to know how to green their home - and not just how to make it look pretty.  It’s all part of a 'build smart' movement that has Canadians hungry for ways to make homes and workplaces more energy efficient and healthier.  Confused about where to start, who to talk to and what questions to ask? Learn more about the Growing Green Buildings workshops and seminars hosted by the Lighthouse Sustainable Building Centre in Vancouver.

Green workshops and seminars

People are flocking to non-technical Green Building 101 workshops so they can learn how to green their homes.  They gain a general understanding of green design ideas, issues and processes, develop a set of personal green goals for their home, and leave with a practical resource workbook.  Participants who want to learn more can attend Guest Expert Seminars featuring experts trained in the fields of architecture, contracting and real estate and the experts can also give one-to-one consultations.

How does it help?

It’s a win-win situation: a green building uses less energy and fewer resources, which saves you money.  Together the workshops and seminars help break down education and training barriers so you build smarter and at the same time help make the building industry greener.  Greener choices empower Canadians because they contribute to protecting our environment and the air we all breath.

Benefits of going green

Green buildings are healthy and energy efficient, with energy- and water-efficient appliances and fixtures.  They are constructed with a plan to minimize waste and with finishes that have low VOC emissions (volatile organic compounds are carbon-containing substances that evaporate readily at room temperature.  They can be found in some paints, adhesives, solvents and other similar products).  Transforming the market to encourage these practices requires fostering professional capacity, educating consumers and increasing the number of green building product choices. Green Building practices focus on five broad areas, including:

  • Site planning
  • Water and water efficiency
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • Conservation of materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental air quality.

The driving force of volunteers

Volunteers and professional guest experts are the driving force behind the success of the Growing Green Building series.  Volunteers range from industry professionals to students and are trained through orientation workshops, mentoring and special instruction to become Light House guides, workshop leaders, interns, or guest experts.  In total, 266 volunteers put in more than 5000 hours over the term of the project.  This more than doubled the number of workshops the project originally planned to make available to the public.  Equally successful, the monthly guest expert series became so popular that it ran every Saturday.

The results

Participants who received education or training were asked to share measurable improvements in their homes and workplaces based on five key areas:

  • energy
  • water
  • material savings
  • hazardous materials averted
  • greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Subsequent home upgrades saved an estimated 2.7 million kWh of electricity and over 500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.  Today the series has grown into a permanent program at the Light House.

“Building owners need practical, detailed information on the costs and benefits of green products and technologies. Regional variations in the products available, their suitability for local conditons, and the presence of trained service providers have created a strong need for locally specific information.” -Helen Caruthers, Sustainable Building Centre

By the numbers

336 Guest Expert Seminar participants committed to adopting GHG-reducing behaviours
191 Participants pledged to obtain a home energy assessment
582 People toured the Light House or another green building
2789 Requests for information at the Light House resource centre or booths at public events
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