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On Thursday, January 30th, the University of Guelph’s Sustainable Real Estate class took a tour of the Terra View’s LEED Platinum model home in Kitchener, Ontario. Terra View team members specializing in green design, interior design, and home sales talked one-on-one with the students about the different features of green building they offer, and the benefits those features provide both to the owners and the environment.

LEED is one of several energy efficient and sustainable real estate certification programs, originally pioneered by the United States Green Building Council and executed nationally by the Canadian Green Building Council.  In addition to LEED, Terra View also provides opportunities for home owners to construct and operate their homes under other sustainable and energy efficient certification programs, and is committed to constructing every house they build to EnergyStar standards.

terra1Sustainability and energy efficiency are of particular importance in the real estate industry because buildings – both their construction and operation – are among the leading sources of waste creation, harmful emissions, and energy usage.  A 2009 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that buildings account for 39 percent of the country’s energy consumption, with residential buildings comprising over half that usage. Specifically, buildings consumed over 70 percent of electricity used in 2006 (again, with residential buildings representing over half that total), and that figure is expected to increase further over the next 10 years.  On a closely-related note, buildings contribute nearly 40 percent of the U.S.’s total CO2 emissions, with residential uses responsible for over half that output.

terra2On the model home tour, students learned about specific technology being incorporated into homes that can help decrease real estate’s large and growing environmental footprint.  (To take your own tour and see some of the features, please take their virtual tour.) Such features address many aspects of greener living, from power conservation to decreased water usage and reuse of rainwater.  Students saw samples of different insulation techniques for walls, windows, roofs, and basement floors, and learned about simple and inexpensive methods to managing indoor temperature in both the cold winters and hot summers.  Of particular interest was how simple and user-friendly most of these greener systems are, allowing the average homebuyer the opportunity to decrease their environmental footprint without requiring additional efforts or expertise to operate their home.

Source of all photos: Terra View