LEED Complete: Green buildings on fast forward

At the Toronto Regional Sustainable Building Conference held on June 1st the outgoing Chair of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Ian Jarvis announced a major restructuring of the Canadian LEED program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  The new program development is to be called LEED Complete, and while the details of the program are still on the drawing board, it is to be fully operational by the beginning of 2009.

The aspirations of CaGBC for LEED Complete were compared to the introduction of the ipod in the music industry with its rapid deployment, low cost, consumer acceptance and transformation of societal expectations.

Sandy Wiggins, Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) said it is “very exciting to see what is happening in Canada”.  He said that goal for the Green Building sector now is “to develop the capacity and speed to deliver the LEED program by getting enough designers, architects and building owners involved.”   He said that the USGBC may follow the example set by CaGBC’s LEED Complete development.

Buildings and associated activities currently contribute about 50% of green house gas emissions in Canada, and the volume is growing annually.  Buildings contribute more carbon to the atmosphere than any other single source including automobiles. The first step is to halt the growth in emissions and then to bend the emissions curve downward.

Jarvis explained that the building sector can meet half of Canada's Kyoto commitment through a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from buildings.  As there are numerous examples of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions from individual buildings applying current technologies, it is considered a realistic goal if it can be applied on a broad scale.

Jarvis said CaGBC stragegy to reach an overall 50% reduction in average energy and water use requires that there be 100,000 commercial buildings and 1,000,000 LEED certified homes in Canada by 2015.  He described the goal as ‘two orders of magnitude greater than what has been accomplished to date'.

Under the new LEED Canada program a building will be engaged in a lifecycle process of certification.  It will be a staged process where a building would initially meet design standards and a second stage where the actual performance of the building is monitored and reported. By focusing on building lifecycle LEED Complete will integrate LEED for new and existing buildings.

The CaGBC is planning a web-based lifecycle reporting system that will incorporate building design and performance data.  The web database would provide valuable performance information for the industry and a framework for accountability to the CaGBC and various levels of governments.

Critical to the delivery of LEED Complete is an accelerated educational program for LEED professionals by CaGBC delivered through its Chapters across the country. The program also calls for 'a harmonization of incentive programs offered by utility companies with LEED Complete'.

Jarvis referenced a study of 60 new schools completed in the last seven years all built to the same building standard offering comparable services. The study showed there is three times as much energy per square meter consumed in the poorest performing buildings compared to the best. Although building managers have ‘studied endlessly’ a school in Quebec, the top performer in the study, the energy conserving features of the school have not been replicated.  He said it has been treated as ‘a curiosity’ rather than a model.

Jarvis says the school study demonstrated that while there is information available about high performing buildings and best practices, it is not currently being shared and adopted. 

Engagement by building owners in a lifecycle reporting process under LEED Complete is intended to raise the standard of existing buildings to the level of current best performers and to fix this problem.

Experts in the Green Building industry view their initiatives, including LEED Complete, as vital to mitigating the impact of climate change. Participants at the conference described it as 'a no regrets' strategy which actually adds to the economy. As Ian Jarvis said, "A building centric strategy for climate change is a logical first step."

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Ian Jarvis, B.Sc, P.Eng,
Immediate Past Chair, Canada Green Building Council, President, Enerlife Consulting Inc., Enerlife Consulting develops, manages and evaluates large-scale energy efficiency programs. www.enerlife.com .

Ian Jarvis has 25 years' experience in the field of buildings performance and energy efficiency. From 1992-1999 he served as CEO of Rose Technology Group, a leading energy performance contractor, responsible for several of the largest energy retrofit projects in North America. Ian is past chair of the Canada Green Building Council. He is also a member of the National Advisory Council on Energy Efficiency which advises the federal Office of Energy Efficiency. Ian represented the energy efficiency industry on the 1998 Team Canada trade mission to South America, and was the Canadian Government's invited private sector representative at the 1999 Hemispheric Energy Minister's Conference in New Orleans. In 2001 he was a member of Premier Hamm's expert panel advising the Nova Scotia Government on energy policy alternatives.


Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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