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There’s a New Kid on the “Green” Building Block.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Canada for Homes was officially launched this week, adding to the rather crowded field of energy-efficient and “green” new home labels.
New homes must be more than energy-efficient to be certified under the LEED program – they also have to earn points in seven other categories: water efficiency; innovation and design; indoor air quality; location; materials and resource use; site sustainability; awareness and education. There are several levels of LEED, ranging from basic to platinum certification.
LEED for commercial and high-rise buildings has existed in Canada for several years.
There had been no Canadian LEED for Homes program until the launch held earlier this week at Toronto BILD’s (Building Industry and Land Development Association) Archetype Sustainable House at the Kortright Centre, a semi-detached home built to LEED Platinum standards. It is among 400 case study houses built to U.S. LEED criteria last year by 47 Canadian builders. Feedback from those case studies helped formulate the Canadian criteria.
“LEED Canada for Homes is simply a better way to build,” said Lyle Shipley, executive director of the Toronto chapter of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), which will manage the program in Canada.
Ontario’s Energy Conservation Officer, Peter Love, said LEED “gives people confidence in what they’re buying” because the homes will be third party tested and have to meet stringent requirements.
Love said LEED-built houses will be good for Ontario’s economy, too, as “green businesses are labour-intensive” and a lot of the products used in LEED houses will be made in the province. And the people living in them will save money on operating costs.
Leith Moore, chair of BILD, said the LEED Canada for Homes will offer lowrise builders a range of choice.
“In the current economic malaise, we need options,” he said. “The economic downturn is not a reason to turn away from building green. As of today, we have another option.”
Moore said BILD supports voluntary “green” building programs, as opposed to any mandated by governments.
“We’re very excited about LEED Canada for Homes … the market wants it and there’s huge demand,” said Andrew Pride, vice-president of builder Minto’s Green Team and chair of the LEED Homes committee.
Pride said most of the U.S. standards have been adopted for the Canadian version, as “a lot of the (case study) people said there were fine with the material choices, the location, the siting. One of the big components demanded from the industry was to have an EnerGuide rating for the homes.”
Pride said the LEED program is designed to complement existing programs such as EnerGuide for Homes, Energy Star, GreenHouse, etc. There is also a new rating standard, HERS (Home Energy Rating System) coming to Canada, Pride said.
“LEED allows other programs to fit into it, but it’s stringent,” said Pride. “You need to be at least an Energy Star builder even before you enter the game.”
Those already building to Energy Star standards won’t have to make a huge leap to LEED certification, said Pride, but will have to consider things like what materials are used, proximity to transit, landscaping and water conservation.
Pride said even in the current soft market, “green” homes are holding their value. Although building this way is more costly, he said builders may consider downsizing their products.
“I think going to a smaller home is the greener way to go,” he said. “LEED for Homes favours small homes.”
Pride said while the public is likely familiar with LEED, it will take education to sell the label’s benefits as the houses will cost more upfront, but will be considerably cheaper to operate.
One advantage of the program, he said, is that it will be consistent across Canada, unlike some other programs, which are only provincial.
“It’s portable, so you can go to Calgary, Vancouver or Montreal and if you’re certified, you’re certified,” he said.
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ref: TRACY HANES, TORONTO STAR