There are simply not enough resources, money, or energy to build what’s needed for the future if we maintain traditional methods of design and construction.

Ten years ago, the American Institute of Architects stated that seventy five percent of the space that needed to functionally support our residential and business requirements in 2030 does not exist today.

“To build smarter, with less, is critical,” said Rick Huijbregts, VP, Industry and Business Transformation at Cisco Canada. “We’ve got to be more intelligent about how we design, build, and use our buildings to reduce the energy consumption and environmental footprints. Buildings in cities consume more than forty percent of our total energy, of which, half is wasted.”

New point of view

For decades, the priority of the construction industry has been value for money. The success of a completed project would be measured by its ability to stick to budget and be completed on time. For the industry to become truly sustainable, this, says Huijbregts, has to change.

“There is no shortage of suppliers and vendors that have incredible solutions for environmental, economic, and social sustainability."

“There is no shortage of suppliers and vendors that have incredible solutions for environmental, economic, and social sustainability. We need to move away from a low cost procurement model to a high-value network collaboration model.”   For the construction industry to have successful green policies in place, Huijbregts believes that a shift in educational focus required.

“It’s a transition that the educational industry needs to go through. Certain educational institutions have a proactive approach, they show great interest in shaping their future curriculum in collaboration with the industry,” he said.

“We will need industry specific content for those learning to become designers, builders, and building operators, but the key is to get the main aspects of sustainability, such as concepts of environment, energy and cost, into education earlier on.”

Instilling the mindset

By instilling a mindset of economic and environmental sustainability into students, educational institutions have the opportunity to help create a Canadian construction industry that is fully in tune with the true effects of its energy consumption and sustainability footprint.

Michael Grossman, Project Manager of Sustainable Building at Urbacon, has a similar viewpoint. He says “energy efficiency is obviously the cornerstone of what makes a Sustainable Building. But the true harbinger of a sustainable building is occupant comfort and functionality. If my building is difficult to manage, and my occupants are not spending their time in my building feeling better there than they do elsewhere, than I have forsaken the essence of a sustainable building.”