LEED certifications on the rise
The trend toward ‘green’ development picked up steam in Calgary last year as 48 projects gained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification through the Canada Green Building Council.
That brought the total number of buildings in the city with LEED certification to 125, said Mark Hutchinson, director of green building programs for the Council.
“There are over 300 if you include the 175 or so that have registered to pursue certification, but they’re at some stage of design or construction and they haven’t completed certification yet,” he said.
Last year’s number of certifications in Calgary was twice as many as the previous year.
“The certifications reflect when a project has been completed, documented and reviewed,” added Hutchinson.
The first LEED-certified building in Calgary was the Crowfoot Public Library in February 2005.
Throughout Canada, there were 1,756 LEED-certified projects at the end of June.
“We’ve got water treatment plants, schools, arenas, office buildings. All kinds of projects. Broadly speaking the breakout across the country . . . we see equal representation in LEED between the commercial sector and the public and institutional sector,” said Hutchinson. “I suspect in Calgary it’s probably about the same.
“Last year, we saw a growth, in particular, in the retail sector with Target coming to Canada they adopted a policy of certifying all their stores they were building to LEED. So there were six within the city of Calgary that were certified. There were a couple of Starbucks. Bow Valley Square certified last year. There were a couple of buildings at Deer Valley Market Place that were certified last year. So the retail sector was on a bit of an uptick last year.”
He said the LEED certification program continues to be strong across Canada as developers see many benefits of building green – from being more environmentally-friendly to attracting people and tenants to those buildings. The Council says the Canadian green building market is poised to see growth over the next three years with surveyed Canadian firms expecting to grow their green practices from one third in 2014 to one half by 2017.
The greening trend in development is also taking place in a general sense beyond just LEED certification as developers see the benefits of moving in this direction.
“The way we look at it there’s kind of two things that help us form our decisions. One is we try and re-use and adapt existing buildings so you see that in some of the investments that we’re making in all of our markets but in Calgary in particular,” said Michael Hungerford, partner with Hungerford Properties, citing the Icon Business Park and the Nexus Business Centre which have undergone multi-million dollar refurbishments in the city. “Reuse and adapting existing buildings I think is the greenest decision of all because there’s so much energy that goes into building these buildings to begin with. To throw that all away and discard it into the landfill is a real waste of energy.
“The second thing is what I would call a green mindset. As a developer, as we make decisions having a green mindset, and putting your green hat on if you will, you go about planning and designing and building projects.”
There’s not just economic benefits but human benefits in going green, said Hungerford.
By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald