1. What is LEED CANADA? It is a not-for-profit, national building certification program to advance green building and sustainable community development practices in Canada since 2002. According to the Canada Green Building Council (“CaGBC”), buildings generate about 35% all of greenhouse gases and landfill waste and 80% of all water is consumed in and around buildings, so the environmental impact is significant. The Canadian rating systems are an adaptation of the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, tailored specifically for Canadian climates, construction practices and regulations.
2. What Does LEED Examine for Certification? It recognizes performance in five areas of human and environmental health, which include sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED Certification is based on the total point score achieved in these five areas, following an independent review with four possible levels of certification (certified, silver, gold and platinum).
3. What Buildings Qualify for the Ratings?
a. New Construction & Major Renovations – Designed to be efficient and have a lower impact on the environment. (Major renovations include major HVAC improvements, significant envelope modifications, and major interior rehabilitation). Helps promote sustainable operations and maintenance practices once the project is completed.
b. Existing Buildings – Helps maximize the efficiency of operations while minimizing the impact on the environment. It encourages owners/operators of existing buildings to implement sustainable practices and reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings, while addressing the major aspects of ongoing building operations such as: exterior building site maintenance programs; water and energy use; environmentally preferred products and practices for cleaning and alterations; sustainable purchasing policies; waste stream management; ongoing indoor environmental quality. It is a whole-building rating system so individual tenant spaces aren’t eligible.
c. Core & Shell – For projects where the developer controls the design and construction of the entire core and shell base building (e.g., mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems) but has no control over the design and construction of the tenant fit-out. Projects could include a commercial or medical office building, retail center, warehouse, or lab facility. It is designed to be complementary to LEED for Commercial Interiors and LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors, discussed below.
d. Commercial Interiors – For certifying high-performance green tenant spaces that are healthy, productive places to work; are less costly to operate and maintain; and have a reduced environmental footprint. It gives tenants and designers, who do not always have control over whole building operations, the power to make sustainable choices that can dramatically affect the indoor environment. It was developed specifically for tenants in commercial and institutional buildings who lease their space or don’t occupy the entire building and was designed to work hand-in-hand with the LEED for Core & Shell rating system.
e. Retail – Recognizes the unique nature of the retail environment and addresses the different types of spaces retailers need for their product lines. Compared with other commercial buildings, retail has different occupancy characteristics and hours of operation, different parking and transportation considerations, and different process water and energy consumption. Retail projects also may be part of a larger multi-tenant retail complex, where certain issues are addressed at the site level rather than by the project itself. It offers two options for projects seeking certification:
i. New Construction & Major Renovations – Addresses specifics for the construction or major renovation of a retail building. A major renovation includes major HVAC improvements, significant envelope modifications and major interior rehabilitation.
ii. Commercial Interiors – Addresses the specifics of tenant spaces where a retailer is retrofitting an existing building, and the shell of the building is outside of the tenant’s control. Individual tenants may seek LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors certification for their spaces whether the rest of the building is LEED-certified or not. Works hand-in-hand with LEED for Core & Shell.
f. Other LEED Rating Systems – Homes – For single and multi-family residential structures that are three stories or less. Neighbourhoods Development – Integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into a national US program for neighbourhood design. Schools – Focuses on classroom acoustics, master planning, mould prevention, environmental site assessment and other issues important to these buildings; Healthcare –In-patient, Out-patient and Long-term Care Facilities have strict and unique regulatory requirements, 24/7 operations, and specific programmatic demands not covered by other LEED Rating Systems.
4. How is LEED Certification Awarded? Registration to LEED Canada provides projects with a declared intent to certify. After registration a project may be referred to as a LEED Candidate or LEED Certification Candidate and the project may be listed in the CaGBC’s public database at the owner’s option. Following registration, the project team begins to prepare documentation and calculations to satisfy the prerequisite and credit submittal requirements in order to begin the certification submission process which provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in the 5 key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
5. Why is LEED Important? Buildings that meet or exceed the LEED benchmark are awarded certification at various LEED levels which is used to promote the buildings to prospective tenants, purchasers and lenders and for recognition in the eyes of the general public for those seeking projects with emphasis on minimizing the environmental impact a the construction and operations stages.
6. Is there a Cost? – Yes. The first cost is for registration of the project and the next cost is for the Certification process. See:
7. How Long Does It Take? – About 10–20 weeks. Here is a link to LEED Canada’s flowchart of the process:
The Lesson: LEED Certification Benefits: According to the Canada Green Building Council, the benefits to tenant/owners/operators of LEED certified buildings include:
For tenants: Creation of a healthier, cleaner environment which means more satisfied occupants and employees. Enhanced profile as a company that cares about the environment and our future. Lower operating costs and enjoy tax benefits and incentives for green buildings. Immediate and measurable energy, water and other resource savings, and a reduced carbon footprint.
For building owners/operators: An immediate and measurable impact on building performance and third party verification which aids in the marketing of the building and can differentiate it from competitors as green buildings have great appeal to increasing corporate, public and individual buyers as well as in attracting tenants looking to benefit from what green buildings offer (and that can increase the “bottom line”.
** Courtesy of www.cagbc.org (with some modifications by Darrell M. Gold for space reasons)
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only and not intended as or to be relied upon for legal advice. Consult with a lawyer for your unique situation.
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