LEED or follow

I’m going to assume you have not been living in a cave for the past seven years, and therefore you are familiar with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada green building rating system. This way I don’t have to start sounding like a broken record when I explain how it is “an industry-supported, nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings,” that “promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development; water savings; energy efficiency; materials selection; and indoor environmental quality.”

What is amazing about LEED is how fast it has become the industry standard for green buildings, with an estimated market penetration of 17.7 million square metres over close to 200 projects that have achieved some level of certification. With this kind of growth and penetration, it’s not surprising that there are detractors and critics of the system. And many of their criticisms have some merit. And sure, there are other building rating systems out there, too, some of them doing very good work in spreading the gospel of green and sustainable building methodologies, but let’s be honest, it seems LEED is the first in everyone’s vocabulary. Hold the program agenda of any national building and construction trade show or conference in your hand, close your eyes and throw a dart and you’ll probably hit a seminar that in some way discusses LEED. Or you could look at the rapidly-growing number of governments and private sector organizations that are adopting LEED certification in their policies, programming and operations, and are demanding that builders do so too if they want to do business together.

Being not just the end of a year but also the end of a decade, this is that time of year when we all become reflective and look back at what has happened. But instead of lapsing into hyperbole about the near-Armageddon-type chain of events we’ve all lived through, as seemed to be the conversation de rigueur at holiday parties this season, we decided instead to concentrate on something good in our industry. As such, in this issue of Building we are spotlighting LEED — in the magazine are the buildings that achieved LEED certification in 2009, and expanded on our website are the companies behind these buildings.

We focused only on the established categories of LEED – New Construction (NC); Commercial Interiors (CI); Core & Shell (CS); Existing Buildings (EB) — but not LEED Canada for Homes, which was launched in Ontario and Quebec by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) on March 3rd 2009. In addition to not being active for the entire year, this category is different enough (eight scoring criteria rather than six, for example) that comparisons between projects would not be equal.

Our online feature involves a broad listing of the primary team members -designers, consultants, builders, suppliers etc. -responsible for each building. We are attempting to create the first comprehensive overview of the major players in Canada’s building industry who are participating in furthering the importance and value of the LEED rating system, which by extension encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices.

Although details were not available for every category in every project, on our website you can see who was the developer; architect; LEED consultant; project manager; contractor; structural / mechanical / electrical / civil engineer; landscape architect; interior designer; commissioning agent; and one or two other categories, for almost every one of the 63 projects that were LEED certified in 2009. Many thanks to John Evans, who knocked on many doors, repeatedly, to fill in these categories. B

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