The housing industry in Canada was worth $300 billion last year. That's about 20 percent of all economic activity in Canada.

For 60 years now, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has played a key role in guiding and supporting the industry and helping 23 million Canadians own a home.

Just like a house needs a solid foundation, so does the housing industry. For decades, CMHC has provided a financial foundation by insuring mortgages and providing billions to banks for mortages.

CMHC now manages over $200 billion dollars, doubling its assets in just two years. They were able to provide low-cost money for mortgages to keep the market stable

"They are a critical part of the entire housing industry with the funding they provide," says Roger Greenberg, CEO at Ottawa's Minto. "They have helped Canada to weather the economic downturn. The governent seeks out their advice on the housing market."

MInto sees CMHC's impact up close. They recenlty partnered on a national project to design homes that produce as much energy as they consume. It is CMHC'S way to bring new technologies to housing.

Thomas Green is project manager for the Eco-Home project.

"This is, in a sense, the future of housing the new technologies, dealing with energy and the environment," says Green.

"And its not just a one-off building project. They are working to refine the ideas brought forward, and in some cases, they have already improved them and brought costs down 45 percent."

Karen Kinsley, CEO of CMCH, has worked with the Crown corporation for over 20 years.

"Our housing is world class in its quality," she says, "especially in the areas of energy effeciency and the environment. That is what sets us apart, and we are leading the pack."

CMHC now has 1,000 employees in Ottawa and another 1,000 scattered across the country. Last year their revenues were $12 billion and they are getting more and more inquires from other nations asking how you create such an agency.

Pierre Serre heads Insurance products for CMHC. He says that when the countries ask, he tells them, "You don't create a CMHC. You grow it over many years."

With demand skyrocketing for mortgage insurance, a computer program called Emily has become crucial. It analyses applications for risk.

Serre says in the mid 90s they were offering to respond to mortgage applications within 24 hours. With Emily, "We do it in 15 seconds, and that includes one second for the application to come in and one second to go out. So it's really 13 seconds, and that is our standard."

Last year they processed over 800,000 mortgage applications.

CMHC uses tech to lead in other areas. Their web site gets millions of visits frrom mortgage buyers, homeowners, devleopers, contractors. It's part of a vast resource of information that CMHC has about anything and everyting to do with homes.

The library at their headquraters is steadily shifting to the digital world

"We constantly review our techological capablity and are are updating it to serve the public," says Charles Chenard, head of business marketing.

"You know that these days, we have to move into microelectronics. The people who are buying homes are using their mobile phones. They are very mobile people. "