In order for a city or a society to function sustainably, it must first develop in a sustainable manner. This necessitates successful cohesion between social connectivity, environmental stewardship, and sustainable economic development. Sustainability is not something that happens overnight; it is a trait that is learned through years of practice, learning, and a constant desire for something better. This pathway towards sustainability, and the process, effort, and activities involved, is known as sustainable development.
For any city, the social interactions between between members of the community influence sustainability at many different levels. At the City of Maple Ridge, we strive to provide our citizens with fair, accountable governance that ensures a high quality of life. The field of social sustainability addresses how that quality of life is influenced by social issues, like equity and social connectivity amongst diverse groups of residents.
In addition to being socially sustainable, a city like Maple Ridge relies on effective, well-planned infrastructure to meet their sustainability goals. Buildings can be either an incredible help or an incredible hindrance to sustainability. This is because once built, they are static and cannot be changed or moved without a significant investment of time, energy, and money.
Green Building Programs and Standards
While different sustainable development projects and green buildings often have features in common, they are also very unique, and different organizations have developed different standards and labeling systems to help identify green buildings.
Sustainable Home Renovations
While ensuring that new buildings conserve resource and are environmentally friendly is important, building codes and standards do not usually address infrastructure that already exists. Residential buildings represent a significant fraction of this infrastructure, and unfortunately, they are rarely as efficient as they could be. If you are looking to make a change that will reduce your environmental impact, help mitigate climate change, and save you money in the long term, consider renovating your home to make it more sustainable.
The City of Maple Ridge has completed and committed to several projects that improve the sustainability of our built environment. Many of these projects involve improving the energy efficiency of municipal buildings and essential infrastructure, like street lamps. You can find a more complete list of these projects here.
Rebates and Incentives
One of the unfortunate realities of sustainable development and green building is the question of cost for construction, installation, and maintenance. While there is an untrue perception that green buildings are much more expensive than conventional buildings, it is true that many of the costs for developing sustainably are capital. Solar panels are an excellent example of this; where the panels will provide you with significant cost savings and environmental benefits over time, but they involve a significant investment of several thousand dollars. These costs may seem prohibitive, particularly to homeowners who likely have families and other financial considerations.
It is for this reason that the City of Maple Ridge offers several incentive programs to help promote sustainable development in our city.
For homeowners looking to improve the performance of their home, BC Hydro offers a list of incentives and rebates that help you improve your house’s energy efficiency. For major projects, clients of Vancity Credit Union can apply for a low-interest home energy loan to help finance their renovations.
You can also obtain a partial refund on your mortgage premium from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation for buying, building, or renovating a green building using CMHC-insured financing.
To finance small-scale projects that improve sustainability at a neighbourhood level, Neighbourhood Small Grants is a program offered by the Vancouver Foundation to help build a sustainable community and foster social connections right where people live.