Canada ranked second globally on the annual list of Top-10 countries and regions for LEED-certified buildings in 2021, according to the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).
Thomas Mueller, president and CEO at the CaGBC, said that with much work remaining to be done to meet Canada’s climate and environmental goals, the certification of 205 projects — representing more than 3.2 million gross square meters (GSM) of LEED space — adds to its goal of building a sustainable, low-carbon future.
“In this critical decade for climate and environmental action, we must accelerate LEED adoption across the building sector to achieve high levels of performance, including the pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions,” said Mueller in the announcement. “The owners and teams with certified LEED projects have made tremendous progress and are an inspiration as we build our way forward to a more sustainable and low-carbon future.”
China ranked No. 1 on this year’s list, with 1,077 LEED projects certified in 2021, encompassing more than 152 million square feet (14 million gross square meters) of certified LEED space.
India, Korea, and Spain rounded out the top-five countries. The U.S. was not included in the list but remained the largest market for LEED, with more than 26 million GSM of certified space.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Taiwan filled the top 10. Overall, nearly 2,000 projects were approved in 2021 and represent about 288 million square meters of LEED space.
LEED-ing to economic growth
The second-place finish is encouraging and builds on what the CaGBC calls a stellar record of green building growth.
Canada has less than three per cent of China’s total population, yet the country achieved approximately 20 per cent of China’s project tally in 2021.
Canada is expected to double its international climate financing for developing countries and came out of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) with a clear mandate to reduce emissions by 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The federal government’s ambitious climate targets have several sectors engaged in sustainable practices to build or retrofit spaces to LEED standards. It launched an $8-billion Net-Zero Accelerator Fund to help large emitters reduce emissions.
Motivated by lower operating costs, market demands, healthier buildings and internal corporate commitments, public-private partnerships are improving building performance in homes, offices, hotels, and retail spaces — as sustainability becomes a focus among social, environmental, financial, and political groups.
The improvement is leading to economic growth. According to a report from the CaGBC, Canada’s LEED projects certified from 2005 to 2015 will lead to $128 billion in gross output over their lifetime, $62.3 billion in total GDP, and create 701,700 jobs.
Notable past projects
LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources, save money for families, businesses, and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions, and create a healthier environment for residents, workers, and the community at large.
2022 has already gotten off to a hot start for LEED-certified projects, as Toronto’s Exhibition Place signed on to the Net-Zero Carbon Events Pledge. Featuring the LEED-platinum Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place also installed a geothermal plant, resulting in combined savings of approximately $18,000 and reducing carbon emissions by 34 tonnes.
Additionally, real estate investor One Properties recently announced its Southpark on Whyte in Edmonton, which has become the city’s first LEED Gold-certified multifamily development. The firm has received LEED certification at 21 properties, representing six million square feet of space.
Habitations Mont-Royal is building what will become Canada’s largest LEED-certified neighbourhood in the City of Longueuil, Que. Approximately 800 homes have been constructed, and a fourth phase will unlock 3,000 housing units.
Post-secondary schools have also made an impact. Centennial College will become Ontario’s first zero-carbon, mass timber higher-education building when it is completed in 2023.
Designed in collaboration with construction services company EllisDon, architecture firm DIALOG, and Anishinaabeg-owned and operated Smoke Architecture, the $105-million expansion will provide 150,000 square feet of academic programming space.
Other notable past projects include:
– St. John, New Brunswick: The City of St. John Police Headquarters, LEED Gold;
– Calgary, Alberta: Bow Valley Square, LEED Gold;