From Dean Dowd on May 27, 2008 in Green Remodeling
On a recent visit to Canada, I couldnt help noticing how pervasive the green attitude was. Im not suggesting for a moment that many Americans are not tuned in to the issue; my only point is that the general awareness is not as widespread as it is elsewhere.
In Canada, most of the new construction is very compact. Everything is packed as efficiently as possible into the city center, allowing for most people to walk or ride bicycles. With gas over $5.00 per gallon, people ride their bikes from as far as 40 minutes to and from their jobs. Public transit is also widely used, and many of the cars are small hybrids or electric.
Not only is a large amount of the housing in the form of apartment or condo living, but many are quite small as well. One particular flat I toured was 450 sq.ft and quite compact. Surprisingly, it was excellently laid out to feel spacious and to provide adequate storage, a large bathroom, and open kitchen. A balcony added extra elbow room. Almost none of the homes have air conditioning as it is considered extremely inefficient and unnecessary. Ceiling fans fill the ventilation needs. The most common form of heating is baseboard heaters. Viewed as outdated here, they are considered the most efficient form of heating there with gas prices so high, and wood at a minimum.
There is also a strong focus placed on recycling; one school in particular was built to be completely waste-free, promoting an all-inclusive recycling program that taught the children how to avoid having any trash whatsoever.
Americans are becoming much more aware of the green movement, and you can do your part by working with your contractor to turn your home into an efficient green machine.
Photo of the C.K. Choi Building at the University of British Columbia