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First Person: Guy Patterson

Whistler Green brings sustainable building standards to housing



In embracing the concept of sustainability through Whistler 2020, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has assembled information collected from literally hundreds of sources into a single framework intended to guide the municipality for the next 20 years. While the Whistler 2020 document is as comprehensive as can be, the exercise of collecting all that information revealed several gaps in the knowledge base — grey areas that the RMOW has had to fill in to achieve social, economic and environmental sustainability.

One of those areas is sustainable design for detached residential building. While there is no shortage of green building standards for large-scale buildings, finding information applicable to single-family homes, duplexes, and other complexes was more difficult.

Given the number of large-scale housing projects slated for the next few years — the Rainbow project, the athletes’ village, Fitzsimmons Walk — the RMOW took matters into its own hands and initiated the Whistler Green program.

Whistler Green was developed by looking at the available information, and meeting with local contractors to determine what was possible for residential building in Whistler. Seven different areas of construction were identified — Site and Landscape, Energy, Water, Indoor Environment, Materials, Waste, Owner and Public Education — as well as a checklist for architects and contractors. The goal is to reduce waste in construction, use sustainable materials, and make homes more efficient. With hundreds of additional dwelling units proposed for development or redevelopment in the next 5-10 years, the impact of Whistler Green could be significant.

The program will be brought to council in August, where municipal staff will request permission to require all applicants for residential development to complete the Whistler Green checklist. Initially, compliance will be voluntary, but the municipality will research opportunities for mandatory green building measures to be introduced in the years ahead.

Pique Newsmagazine caught up with municipal planner Guy Patterson to talk about Whistler Green and how it can be used.

Pique: Where does Whistler Green currently stand, and when will it be available to contractors and the public? Guy Patterson: The formal public review period has officially ended and we’re refining the program based on feedback. We’ll provide it to council for formal endorsement in August, and once it’s approved it will be available to anyone on the website and at municipal hall.

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