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Sustainability used to be a clever buzzword cited by early environmentalists and climate change forecasters before becoming recognized as something that needs to be carefully considered and incorporated into our daily lives. With an increasing population, nowhere is this more important than in the buildings sector.

Sustainable Buildings Canada (SBC) — a non-profit comprised of architects, designers, construction engineers, builders, academics and policymakers — was established in 2003 to support sustainable building practices.

“We’re advocates for greater environmental performance measures in the built environment,” says Mike Singleton, Executive Director at SBC. “This includes new and existing buildings. There are many buildings in Canada that were built before environmental impacts, resource depletion, and climate change were considered. We want to not only reduce the environmental footprint of buildings, but also find ways to have them give back to the environment by collecting and re-using resources such as water and solar power. In combination, buildings can become part of the climate change solution.”

Getting the public involved

The agency focuses its activities on education, advocacy, research, and program delivery to encourage Canadians to adopt sustainable practices in their own lives. Held this year on October 8 in Toronto, the Green Building Festival attracts a wide range of individuals, from architects and engineers to building owners and operators who are interested in learning about practical ways to decrease our environmental footprint from some of the best practitioners in the world.

“We bring in national and international speakers who inspire attendees by introducing leading-edge technologies, green building design and construction, and operational best practices while showcasing the associated benefits to both the environment and individuals,” comments Singleton.

Living sustainably is a complex issue that encompasses both how efficiently we use our resources and what we use them for.

While working to inspire those in the building and design sectors, as well as those in energy, environment, and policy development Singleton acknowledges that living sustainably is a complex issue that encompasses both how efficiently we use our resources and what we use them for.

“There’s no one answer, but there are many little things that can be done to conserve resources and engender a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle,” he remarks. “I’m a big believer in starting at home. It can be as simple as lowering your thermostat, turning off lights and appliances when they aren’t being used, or using public transit instead of your personal automobile if you can. More broadly, I often ask myself if I really need to own the latest consumer product or gadget — many times I find that I don’t.”

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