Canadian Green Building Council

The voice of LEED: green building advocates

LEED certification has become so ingrained in the building industry that even those outside of it understand the significance. The Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) is the representative green voice of the Canadian building industry. It owns the Canadian license for LEED certification and implements the LEED green building rating system in Canada. Through its numerous initiatives, its aim is to enable significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for all building types. It states its vision as “a transformed built environment leading to a sustainable future.” In an era where a continued commitment to environmental sustainability is an absolute necessity, a unified voice of responsibility is of the utmost importance.

The council works as a voice for the industry. To its members, both organizations and individuals, it encourages green practices whenever possible, acting as an advocate, a teacher, and an informational resource. On behalf of members, it appeals to change industry standards and set the bar high in an effort to have a significantly greener future, all while supporting members during the implementation of these efforts. The CaGBC is always available to those who are applying for LEED certification and can help members understand the specific rules and regulations of the process.

There are eight chapters of the council located across Canada, each of them lending support to local builders. The organization is also a proud part of the World Green Building Council community, which has representations from over 78 members at various stages of development—all dedicated to the cause of a clean, green building community.

Truly Canadian guidelines

LEED certification is tailored to the specifics of the Canadian building industry. The CaGBC has been undergoing a multi-year initiative to develop the next generation of green building ratings. International third party LEED certification is adapted to the Canadian market through an inclusive process that engages stakeholders and experts representing the various sectors of the Canadian industry. LEED certification is recognized and respected worldwide in the building industry and the CaGBC plays an important part in representing the Canadian component. The LEED Canada rating system is carefully tailored to the Canadian building sector and sets guidelines for six categories including new construction, commercial interiors, core and shell, existing buildings, homes, and neighbourhood development. At the time of print, almost 3,000 buildings were registered and certified in Canada and it is anticipated that these numbers will only grow.

Green Up initiative

To go hand-in-hand with the development of LEED in Canada, the CaGBC is conducting studies and establishing guidelines to help buildings work towards LEED certification. Through continual participation by members in this ‘Green Up’ initiative, the CaGBC is helping to create a reliable building performance database and information system for the sector. Through this system, members of the CaGBC will be able to access their scores online and receive solutions or hints to improve their rating. There have been a number of pilot projects which have tested this system and several more underway.

Climate change strategy

Naturally, the ultimate goal of the CaGBC is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions across Canada through green building practices. Its market-based specific solutions and continual assistance to the industry and partners are part of its overall goal of increasing the energy savings of 100,000 buildings and one million homes across Canada by 2015, with a verified 50 per cent reduction in energy and water use from a 2005 baseline. Realizing this ambitious goal will result in not only a major reduction in greenhouse gases, but will stimulate economic prosperity through the creation of new employment throughout the country as new green buildings are created and the existing upgraded. Green Buildings represent the easiest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously stimulating the economy.

When utilizing green building practices there are also large reductions in water use and reduced pollution to indoor air. Furthermore, starting with green practices from the ground up will encourage more Canadians to be receptive to green products and services overall.

As the CaGBC website states, “A buildings-centric strategy will engage all Canadians in the climate change solution, leading the way to the broader societal changes required for a sustainable future.”

Education for a green future

This commitment to the future is evident in all activities in which the CaGBC engages, including its contributions to educational institutions. It has a developed a full semester course for post-secondary institutions across the country titled Building Green with LEED: LEED Canada Core Concepts and Strategies. The course can only be taught at approved institutions and there are currently 16 participants including highly respected universities such as The University of Toronto, The University of British Columbia and The University of Manitoba, and well-known colleges such as George Brown. Since 2001, more than 10,000 people have become LEEDS Accredited Professionals in Canada.

In efforts to educate not only students of building but the population in general, the CaGBC has recently released a video web series entitled Seriously Green. This four-part video series will be available online and serve as an information source in regards to green building technology. It introduces people to the key concepts, terms, and ideas of LEED certification and serves as an invaluable source of information to help the general public understand this crucial part of reducing greenhouse gases.

The significance of being a LEED certified building in Canada is monumental. The recognition not only within the industry but also to the general public creates a respect and brand awareness for any organization. The CaGBC is set to achieve some significant goals in the future—and ultimately, through greenhouse gas emission, help the entire population of Canada.