Green Certification Programs

According to ancient philosophy, the harmonious interplay between the elements of earth, fire, air, and water are essential to the smooth functioning of the cosmos.  Taking its cue from this philosophy, green building certification programs also combine elements together to create sustainable “harmony” in a home.

Although many different certification systems are emerging, there is a basic agreement that they include:

One of the new green systems in Ontario, GreenHouse™ Certified Construction, shows symbols representing the four elements right on its home page,

Energy Star™:

Energy Star was the first “green” certification in Ontario for new homes. It is focused only on energy conservation, mandating energy efficiency in building construction, insulation values, lighting, and appliances including ceiling fans. The Energy Star certification system began to gain widespread attention in the late 2000s as the price of oil and other energy sources began to climb. Sponsored in Ontario by EnerQuality Corporation, the number of Energy Star qualified homes is Ontario is increasing, with 20% of new homes attaining the Energy Star label in 2009. 

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):

LEED certification, sponsored by the Canada Green Building Council, gained widespread interest in commercial real estate in the late 2000s as both tenants and building owners demanded third-party verification of a building’s green character.  To give homeowners the same certification opportunity as commercial buildings, the CaGBC introduced LEED for Homes in 2009.  In addition to the four elements common to  green certification systems:  water conservation, energy efficiency, material selection and waste handling, and indoor air quality, LEED for Homes also requires a location that supports walking, biking and public transit as viable alternatives for getting around, and sustainable treatment of the property during construction. LEED assigns one of four ratings to a project: certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.   A strawbale LEED Gold building in California is shown here.

GreenHouse™ Certified Construction:

Enerquality also introduced its green home certification system in 2009, called GreenHouseÔ, announcing that environmental awareness had moved beyond energy efficiency.  In addition to Energy Star level of energy efficiency, a GreenHouse also includes water conservation, recycled materials and waste management, and the minimization of airborne toxins from glues, resins and paints to avoid the possibility of long term health issues. 

Why certification?

Certification is an increasingly important aspect of green homes because owners want the assurance that a third party evaluated the green features against a rigorous benchmark and determined that the home met or exceeded the required level of increased sustainability.  

There is growing evidence that certified green commercial buildings have higher values compared to buildings with no certification.  Now there is some research coming from the U.S. which shows that green houses command a higher price.  As consumers become more knowledgeable, they will be looking for green certification to ensure that claims of increased sustainability are bona fide.


Wondering about the resale value of your green improvements?

In Seattle, Washington where existing data for green home resale value has been tracked for 2008, on average the green single family home was 16.7% of total sales. The green home was 25% smaller and sold for 4% higher value in 18% less time... but the catch here is that dollars per square foot, the green home outperformed the non-green home by 37% in dollars per square foot.

From\Business\Going Green

Homebuyers typically pay 3 to 5 percent more for a “green” home, or about $10,000 extra on $300,000 home. But advocates say the extra costs quickly pay for themselves in savings on water and power


If you are buying a home with a mind to turn it around and make a profit on it in the future, green home designs not only make for a more sustainable home while you occupy it, but they also increase resale value.


Green is “an additional power play,” says Michael Kiefer of Green DC Realty in Washington, one of a growing cadre of environmentally conscious realty professionals. “In a market where not everything sells, you need to differentiate. If you can stand out there alone, you really need to do that.”

“If you’re building a new house, or diving into a significant remodel, you might want to consider getting it certified as green. At resale, certification can provide buyers interested in all kinds of green benefits assurance that they are getting what they paid for.”

From (Residential Energy Services Network)

The AppraisalJournal “More Evidence of Rational Market Values for Home Energy Efficiency”

Electronically reprinted with permission from The Appraisal Journal (October 1999),

© by the Appraisal Institute, Chicago, Illinois.

“Home value increases by about $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills”


Building or remodeling a home using available “green” construction methods, will create a home that:

  • reduces energy costs by 60 to 75%
  • costs less to own and operate
  • has greatly increased resale value
  • has dramatically lower environmental impact

Green Features Mean Higher Resale Value

  • The Appraisal Journal cites a $20.73 Increase in Resale Value for every $1 in Annual Energy Cost


Plus, home buyers value:

  • Energy Star and other certifications
  • disaster resistance, pest resistance, healthy Indoor Air Quality
  • a record of lower operational and maintenance costs
Canada Green Building Council