LEED Canada 2009 – New requirements and opportunities
By Stephen Carpenter
The long-awaited revision to the Canadian LEED-NC rating system is finally here. With it come new requirements for building teams striving to achieve this sought-after certification, as well as new opportunities to push the envelope when it comes to greener buildings. The building industry, in particular LEED consultants, must quickly learn the companion reference guide, since all buildings registered after June 2010 will be judged against the new system. A significant change is the increased importance of energy savings—a welcomed update for facility managers and building owners as they will be twice rewarded for energy efficiency upgrades: in their utility bills and in LEED points.
By Stephen Carpenter
In many ways, the 2009 rating system is similar to the previous version: the same six-point categories and the same number of core credits. The principle changes are as follows:
• Consolidated application guides
• Different credit weightings
• New thresholds and requirements
• New compliance paths
• Regional priority credits
• A two-stage certification process
1. Consolidated application guides
LEED Canada 2009 closely follows the USGBC 2009 system, making the process easier for manufacturers, designers, and contractors who work on both sides of the border. However, the Canadian version incorporates all of the LEED Canada application guides, specifically the guides for MURBs, Campuses and District Energy, Core & Shell, and Leased Tenant Space. In addition, the over 400 credit interpretation requests for Version 1.0 are incorporated into the new rating system. The one consolidated document will make it easier for project teams to understand credit requirements.
2. Different credit weightings
A major revision is the reallocation of the points associated with each credit. In Version 1.0, most credits were equally weighted at one point each. In LEED 2009, credits are allocated points based on their anticipated environmental benefit. This is most clearly seen in the changes to the Energy & Atmosphere credits. Under the original system, this category made up 24% of the available points, but under the new system, Energy & Atmosphere makes up 32%.
3. New thresholds and requirements
Some credit thresholds have been raised while others have been lowered.
In the past few years, LEED consultants realized some credits were relatively easy for all projects to achieve, while others were nearly impossible. LEED Canada 2009 aims to make all credits achievable (for teams authentically committed to sustainability), but challenging enough that LEED is still pushing the industry forward and rewarding the top of the pack with certification.
An example of a credit that is more difficult to achieve under LEED 2009 is WEc3. The performance thresholds are increased by 10 percentage points to 30%, 35%, and 40% for predicted water savings. In addition, a new prerequisite mandates the use of water and energy meters and a minimum 20% water savings.
In some cases the requirements have been updated. For example, a new requirement for a commonly achieved credit, the provision of bike racks (SSc4.2), now includes the need to provide covered bike racks.
4. New Compliance Paths
Some LEED 2009 credits now make alternative compliance paths available to building design teams to allow for greater flexibility in meeting the credit. One example is the credit for locating the building with access to public transit. In lieu of meeting this specific requirement, the project team can develop a transportation demand plan that reduces the use of single occupancy vehicles through other means.
5. Regional Priority Points
There is some confusion in the market place over the concept of the regional priority points introduced for LEED 2009. These are not new credits with new requirements, but are additional points awarded for achieving an existing credit deemed to have special regional significance. A project can achieve a maximum of three regional credit points in this manner. The submission must prove that the credit in question is of particular importance to the surrounding region.
For example, a region may have a landfill that cannot be expanded and thus is shipping waste far away. In that region, the credit for recycling or for construction waste diversion (MRc2) may be eligible for an additional regional priority point.
6. Two-Stage Certification Process
LEED 2009 has a two-stage certification process designed to decrease the time required for CaGBC reviews and certification. The initial submission now requires the applicant to supply more information, but there is no full CaGBC audit. The reviewer may request a “data check”, but can ask for no further audit materials.
The new LEED 2009 created by the CaGBC encourages the development of greener buildings through higher standards in key areas such as energy and water use. The system recognizes the importance of flexibility and the consideration of regional priorities and unique compliance paths. The building owner and operator benefit by being rewarded for best practices and the Canadian public benefits through progressive building designs.
Stephen Carpenter is president of Enermodal Engineering and the Technical Advisory Group chair at the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). Enermodal was contracted to oversee delivery of LEED 2009.