Built Green Canada recently launched its Communities Program pilot to expand opportunities for developers focused on creating better, healthier homes and communities.

The non-profit organization is encouraging developers to participate in trials during this phase, and a project is already enrolled: Averton has decided to develop Midtown in St. Albert as a sustainable community.

During the COVID-19 crisis, people are spending more time inside their home as they adjust to other ways of doing business, while social connections are encouraged to occur outside, expanding the focus to the outside of the home and to the health of communities. While the program was already in development, the pandemic prompted Built Green to ready this as a pilot.

The program framework takes a holistic approach to development, consistent with Built Green’s other third-party certified programs, and focuses on the optimization of health, resiliency, lifecycle sustainability, new urbanism, greenhouse emissions, green spaces and resource consumption.

“Though we understand the COVID-19 pandemic extends far beyond a health crisis, the trajectory of our communities and economies is difficult to anticipate, recover from and prepare for, should future waves come. What we can expect is a continued emphasis on health and well-being—inside our homes and the communities in which we live”, says Jenifer Christenson, CEO of Built Green. “Meanwhile, economic recovery dominates public discourse.”

Developing sustainable communities sees the convergence of environmental, economical and societal benefits. From an environmental perspective, a sustainable community contributes to climate mitigation and resiliency—a necessary consideration beyond health, as the occurrence of natural disasters continues to increase due to climate change. It also contributes to Canada moving closer to meeting its reduced GHG emission targets in the Paris Agreement.

From an economical and financial perspective, sustainable development results in reduced GHGs, water use, and waste; job creation as well as financial support for those already working in environmental services; and improved potential for development financing. And from a social perspective, building more sustainable communities may result in quality of life improvements with improved health and well-being. These benefits can be achieved the through the builds in the community, the infrastructure of the community, as well as those living in and visiting the community.

To qualify for the Communities program pilot, the project must consist of three or more buildings, and at least 50 per cent of these structures must contain residential units. The program’s checklist of options considers site location, layout and design, energy systems, water management, materials and waste management, health and wellness, and business practices and innovation.

Located in St. Albert’s southwest corner close to Edmonton city limits, the Midtown is a 45-acre, master-planned community that will offer a diverse range of housing types, neighbourhood-scale commercial uses, and abundant open space. The community has been designed to offer distinct architectural forms, a mix of for sale and rental residences, alongside open-space and street design that prioritizes age diversity, safety and general accessibility.

Midtown will enable a healthy lifestyle and encourage wellness through important connections to St. Albert’s open space and trail system. The trail system provides key linkages to The Enjoy Centre and employment areas; Midtown neighbourhood residents will be able to bike or along the river to St. Albert’s downtown area and to the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park.

Built Green Canada is a national, industry-driven, non-profit organization offering third-party certification programs for those interested in sustainable practices in the residential building sector represented in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.

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