Conscientious consumers are no longer only fixated on the financial value of the products that they buy. Whether it’s purchasing a carpet, car, or investing in a commercial property, consumers are increasingly aware that for products to have long-term viability, both financially and environmentally, they simply have to fit into the green framework.

Nowhere is that realization being witnessed more evidently than in Canada’s building industry. 

“The building sector in Canada is evolving rapidly,” explains Mark Hutchinson, Director of Green Building Programs at CaGBC. “Whether it’s schools, hospitals homes or offices, building owners and tenants are looking for healthier, more efficient buildings.” 

Opportunity for green products

Over the past decade, Canada has witnessed significant changes in the competitive landscape for green products and materials, and Hutchinson is in no doubt that this trend is going to continue into the future. “One study found that the global green building materials market is projected to reach $500 billion by 2020, so there is definitely an opportunity there for Canadian manufacturers,” he says. “There is a growing demand domestically, as well as potential in many other parts of the world, too.”

“There is a growing demand domestically, as well as potential in many other parts of the world, too.”

In Canada, the operation of our buildings accounts for around 30 percent of overall energy consumption. The availability of more green products, whether designed for regular homeowners or commercial real estate managers, would increase our ability to reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs. 

Hutchinson believes that, aside from the financial and environmental savings, green products and materials can have an even greater impact for the people who use the buildings that incorporate them. “Products that release fewer chemicals into our air and provide us more daylight, instead of artificial lighting, can all contribute to a healthier environment,” Hutchinson says. “Green products can improve productivity in an office environment and help students achieve higher test scores in a school environment.”

Creating a framework for green success

Independent rating systems, like LEED,  play an important role in driving innovation around green products and materials. Manufacturing products that gain recognition within one of these assessment programs marks companies out as being environmentally, financially and socially aware.

“In the building industry, LEED has increased the demand for products that improve energy and water efficiency,” says Hutchinson. “It’s also encouraged manufacturers to learn more about the materials and components that they’re using, and reduce the toxins that go into their products.”

The demand for green products and materials is on the rise, both domestically and overseas. Never has there been a better time for Canadian manufacturers to take a leading role in developing the green products and materials that will define our future.