Built for the City of White Rock, B.C., this Stantec-designed
green building received
a LEED gold certification — one of only two gold projects
at that time — because of its exemplary use of water and energy (arcitect Busby Perkins + Will).
Photo: Jim Burns
By Melanie Sharpe
With growing numbers of eco-conscious consumers, businesses are finding creative ways to tap
into the green housing market. Canadians continue to be world leaders in innovative green
technology, offering a number of environmentally sustainable home products.
According to the The Rubber Association of Canada website, over 20 million scrap tires are
disposed of every year in Canada. Most end up in landfills or are burned, releasing toxic
chemicals into the atmosphere. Others are illegally dumped in parks or green spaces. The
Calgary-based company GEM Inc. is providing an eco-friendly alternative. The company sells
EuroSlate, rubber-roofing tiles made mainly of recycled automobile tires. The rubber roofs
are backed by a 50-year guarantee and are available to homeowners in select cities across
North America. They are competitively priced, durable, stylish and an environmentally-smart
Sage Creek Canada, a Victoria-based comapany, is expanding the definition of organic beyond
the confines of the kitchen. The company sells eco-conscious consumers organic linens, blankets,
bath towels and clothing, all made from organically-grown cotton. The Pesticide Action Network
of North America says 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and 10 percent of pesticides
are used growing cotton. Cotton farmers also use some of the most potent and toxic chemicals
on their fields. Organic cotton farms have a low impact on the environment and surrounding
Canada trails Europe and the U.S. when it comes to biodiesel, but the biodegradable, non-toxic
fuel alternative is slowly catching on. Ottawa’s Topia Energy Ltd. owns all four Canadian
biodiesel pumps. The eco-friendly fuel is made from reusable natural oils and animal fats.
It fuels vehicles on its own or in combination with petroleum diesel, significantly reducing
carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases. The Canadian government has set a target to
use 500 million litres of biodiesel annually by 2010. Transit systems in Brampton, Saskatoon,
Montr éal and Tofino use biodiesel, and more recently, the fuel has been used to heat
homes and cottages. Topia Energy fueled the Ottawa Cisco Systems Bluesfest in 2005 with biodiesel.
Bamboo has become a favourite flooring and furniture material for green homeowners and builders.
It is widely available, sustainable, versatile and reasonably priced. Traditional hardwood
forests take 40 to 60 years to replenish, whereas bamboo takes five to seven. Because bamboo
is a grass, its roots aren’t destroyed after it’s harvested. Unlike trees, bamboo
keeps growing and is re-harvested only a few years later. There are numerous Canadian companies
across the country that supply and install bamboo flooring and a wide-range of bamboo furniture.
Silk road link.
Green advocates can even be eco-friendly once they’re dead. After eight years of development
and market research, British designer Hazel Selena has created the first eco-friendly coffin
in Sussex England. The Ecopod is shaped like a plant seed and the design models ancient Egyptian
tombs. The eco-coffins come in two sizes and are made with 100 percent hardened recycled
paper that decomposes safely underground. The company has reported interest from all over
the world, including Canada.