Sustainable Business News (SBIZ)
c/o Squall Inc.
P.O. Box 1484, Stn. B
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5P6
Canada: 1-855-569-6300

Canada ranks No. 2 for LEED-certified commercial space in 2023

Flight to quality, government policies pushing for green building certification

Marnie Fletcher, director of certification services at the Canada Green Building Council. (Courtesy Canada Green Building Council)

Canada was a global leader in commercial real estate LEED certifications in 2023, ranking No. 2 in the world according to the Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC).

A ranking by Green Business Certification Inc., covering sustainable building certifications outside the U.S., found 7.9 million square metres across 280 projects were LEED-certified in Canada last year. It was second to mainland China at 24.6 million square metres in 1,563 projects.

“LEED has a great reputation in the market for being a rigorous green building standard to pursue that will show results in a building’s operations,” Marnie Fletcher, director of certification services at the CAGBC, told Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview.

She said the green building space continues to grow because of government support for LEED from all levels and “strong” private interest pushed by the flight to quality by tenants.

2024 is also a development year for the CAGBC, and noteworthy changes are set to be made to the green building standard.

Canada’s placement

Canada maintained its relative position in 2023 from previous years. In 2022, Canada placed third for certifying 5.3 million square metres of buildings, and second in 2021 for certifying 3.2 million square metres.

“Our ranking as well as the volume of projects and the square metreage that we certify every year is a relatively consistent market,” Fletcher said.

Notable certified projects from last year include the historic The Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto (for Zero Carbon Building - Performance Standard) and the University of British Columbia’s Gateway project (also Zero Carbon Building - Design Standard).

Fletcher said most projects in Canada are pursuing LEED Gold, the second-highest certification.

As of Jan. 1, 2024, Canada has 5,961 LEED-certified projects, according to data provided by the CAGBC. Approximately one-third of the LEED-certified projects are in Ontario, followed by Quebec, B.C. and Alberta.

The U.S. is not included in this ranking because there is a separate list for the top-10 U.S. states by LEED-certified space.

Flight to quality and greener buildings

Canada is a top performer on LEED because of government and private sector pressure to build and retrofit greener buildings, Fletcher said. From the government ranks, she pointed to Alberta Infrastructure as an example, which is building LEED-certified schools.

The post-COVID pandemic demands from tenants and property managers have raised expectations for commercial space, with LEED as a way to fulfil this request.

When LEED’s existing building operations maintenance rating system was released, Fletcher said, many market leaders and class-A building owners in the urban centres of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal were quick to adopt the standard. Now the trend is spreading to class-B buildings and tenanted spaces in the suburbs, which maintains the push for energy efficiency and sustainable building operations, she continued.

Additional key factors are the economics around retrofits and a push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings that have led to interest in the CAGBC’s existing buildings program. For new constructions, the industrial building sector has shown interest in pursuing design and construction standards, Fletcher said.

LEED update coming in 2024

With 2024 as a development year for the CAGBC, there was a great deal of focus in 2023 on the principles and directions for version 5 of LEED. Fletcher said the CAGBC is gathering experts into volunteer committees to analyze the beta information for version 5 and offer any critiques.

A draft of LEED version 5 covering design and construction should be available later this year, she said.

In a past conversation, CAGBC president and CEO Thomas Mueller said the CAGBC’s Zero Carbon Building - Design Standard will be updated and the new standard would be revealed in June 2024.

Industry Events