Leading Through Conservation in Canada’s National Capital

New environmental standards raise bar for rental housing in Ottawa
By Chrisy Trudeau
Chrisy Trudeau
Chrisy Trudeau
October 24, 2013 Updated: October 24, 2013

OTTAWA—An Ontario certification program for multi-residential rental housing that is one of a kind in North America added environmental standards to its requirements in May and has just officially recognized its first currently certified property to meet the new requirements.

Provincial energy minister Bob Chiarelli was among the well-wishers on hand on Oct. 18 to congratulate mega real estate developer Minto Group on the certification of its Sophia building in Ottawa, the first property to have adopted the new standards of the Certified Rental Building (CRB) Program.

Chiarelli noted the importance of conservation, creating healthier and more liveable communities while reducing costs at the business and individual levels as well as the system level.

The Sophia certification is the result of grassroots action led by the Federation of Rental-Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO), he said.

The FRPO first launched the CRB Program in 2008 and has added 10 environmental management standards to the program for multi-residential property managers who want to get their apartments and townhouses designated as a certified rental building.

The CRB designation gives people looking to rent a home assurance that they’re choosing a well-run, well-managed building and not renting from a slumlord or someone known to mistreat tenants.

Now those properties will be known to care for the environment too. Currently certified properties have until next October to meet the new conservation requirements in order to keep their certification.

Engaging thousands of apartment tenants in conservation practices is not easy but is a very important undertaking, said Chiarelli.

He pointed out that Ontario uses 27 percent more electricity per person than New York State, adding that “the least expensive energy is the energy we don’t use.”

The FRPO hopes that making it easier for renters to choose and live in green-minded housing will foster a conservation culture.

Under the new standards, property managers will monitor energy, water, and waste practices to identify excessive usage and encourage conservation.

Through awareness programs, they will also actively engage tenants in efforts to reduce consumption and adopt environmentally responsible practices.

Property managers must also:

1. Install energy-efficient electrical fixtures and lighting
2. Install Energy Star appliances when replacements are required
3. Ensure timely maintenance of boilers and/or heating systems for maximum efficiency
4. Install water-efficient plumbing and do regular inspections and maintenance to minimize leakage
5. Track efforts to promote recycling and the proper disposal of hazardous or toxic waste including electronic waste
6. Use construction materials that contain low or zero volatile organic compounds

In addition to being the first to be re-certified with the new environmental standards, Minto Group was also the first property management group certified when the CRB program was launched five years ago.

In doing so, Minto furthers its green credentials, having won the “Green Development of the Year” award at this year’s Housing Design Awards competition organized by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.

The real estate development, construction, and management company has operations in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, and Florida.

The new environmental standards will cover over 225,000 Ontario residents living in CRB Program apartments if they all upgrade to keep their certification.