Speaker explores ways to develop a more sustainable community

Saanich Talks hears from founding director, president and chief executive officer of the Canada Green Building Council

Thomas Mueller

Thomas Mueller

Building green represents a “mindset” that does not necessarily come with a premium, says a leading expert in the field.

Thomas Mueller, founding director, president and chief executive officer of the Canada Green Building Council, made these comments last week, as he was preparing to speak during the second edition of Saanich Talks organized by the District of Saanich.

Titled “A liveable urban future” and held at Uptown shopping centre, the event explored ideas to develop a sustainable community.

As head of the Canada Green Building Council responsible for programs and standards such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Mueller spoke about the role of green buildings in transitioning to more sustainable communities, bringing real-life examples from other communities. Attendees also heard from Michael von Hausen, a leading Canadian urban designer and planner, who used the occasion to describe the key components of a healthy community.

Mueller meanwhile focused on how individuals can contribute towards healthy, sustainable communities through their own personal choices.

He said sustainability rests on three pillars – health, environment and equity – and individuals can do their own part in strengthening them.

Considering health, Mueller said current homeowners can do a lot to live in healthier homes. They can choose lead-free paints and gentle cleaning supplies, for example, he said.

Turning to the environmental pillar, homeowners can do any number of things. They can purchase low-flow plumbing features, improve the energy efficiency of their homes and follow green building codes.

Turning to economics, Mueller recommends homeowners do the best that they can do to achieve some of these measures.

“Everybody has a budget,” he said. “Do the best that you can do within your budget.”

While some of these measures might have come with a premium in the past, that is increasingly less so.

“The product is available,” he said.

And while some measures might carry an initial cost, they will eventually pay off in the long run by reducing operation and maintenance costs, said Mueller.

“Home ownership is more than just than the purchase price,” he said.

Ultimately, homeowners that take measures to improve the health, environmental sustainability and equity benefit themselves.

“These things…actually give you much more comfort,” said Mueller.