Lessons Learned at the CaGBC (Part II of II): Why Can’t Every LEED Consultant Work Here?

February 23, 2011

In this follow-up to the Lessons Learned Blog dated January 27, 2011, I am happy to divulge more juicy lessons-learned from my Secondment here at the CaGBC (hopefully this time the blog won’t attract the paparazzi, reporters, fans (and protesters) that inundated us after the first blog!).
Lesson Three: Misconception of the use of (1) the Application Guide for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (a.k.a. MURB Guide) and (2) the Application Guide for Campus and Multiple Building in LEED Canada-NC (a.k.a. Campus Guide). The MURB guide was developed to provide alternate compliance paths for any LEED Canada-NC 1.0 (with or without addendum) project that includes a residential component. The Campus Guide was developed to provide alternate compliance paths to help certify one or more buildings located on a campus (defined in the Campus Guide) targeting LEED Canada-NC 1.0 (with or without addendum). The common misconception is that if one compliance path was followed from either guide then ALL compliance paths need to be followed. To address this misconception (here is the juicy part), these two guides should be treated as though they are a buffet lunch: be picky and choose the compliance paths that suit your project needs and leave behind the compliance paths that are unfavorable. Just be sure to READ, include all submittal documentation listed under the compliance path followed and fill out that nifty Application Matrix as part of your upfront application so that the compliance paths chosen for each credit are clear to the review team! Oh, and one last point, like the LEED Canada-NC v1.0 Reference Guide Addendum, each credit needs to be adopted in its entirety from the application guides. The exception is for mixed use projects – the residential portion can follow the MURB guide and the commercial portion can follow the standard guidance.
Lesson Four: Documentation commonly not included in the first submittal package results in DELAYING the certification review process. Well over half of the certification applications require more documentation in order for the file to be reviewed by one of CaGBC’s third party review teams. At the CaGBC, any documentation that prevents the review from starting is appropriately called a “show stopper”.

Five Showstoppers for LEED Certification

Here are the “top 5” show stoppers that applicants “forget” to include in their application for LEED certification:
(1) A drawing that CLEARLY defines a LEED Project Site Area (used consistently across all prerequisites and credits);
(2) ALL Architectural, Landscape Architect, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering drawings in greyscale (please no coloured drawings);
(3) Signed LEED letter templates (these are professional declarations – please make sure that they are signed);
(4) Be clear and clarify your intent for LEED Canada-NC (or CS) EAp2 – Minimum Energy Performance (are we waiting for a third party review report or are your requesting that one of the CaGBC review teams perform a 3rd Party Energy Model review?); and,
(5) Your narrative does NOT need to “wow us” by describing the green strategies used in the design. In your narrative state:
(a) the certification attempted (NC, CS, CI, EB:O&M etc…) and the version;
(b) use of the building (office, residential, treatment facility, etc.…);
(c) FTE clarification (if required);
(d) a summary of the credits targeted in each category (complimented by the credit matrix referenced above if necessary); and,
(e) information as required under section 4.4 of the Application Guide for Core and Shell Buildings and Leased Tenant Space if your project has ANY leased tenant space (refer to the Part I of this Lesson’s Learned blog).
Lastly, to help make your certification application sparkly clean check out the “Certification Methodology” document from the new website and/or attend the “New LEED Canada Documentation Course (N.C. 1.1)”.

Final Lesson: The CaGBC puts a lot of effort into ensuring that project reviews are fair and consistent. If frustration strikes, step back, take a deep breath, come back to my lessons above and remind yourself that you are helping to transform the green building market in Canada through being involved in a LEED project.
I hope you enjoyed these few, but essential, lessons learned.

Ghislaine Johnson, LEED Technical Coordinator

LEED Credentials administered from the US – does it matter to you?

February 11, 2011

In 2010 administration of the LEED credential became the responsibility of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). While most people agree that the changes introduced are for the good of the credential and those that achieved it, some feel that having a US-based organization compromises the applicability of the credential in Canada. Do you agree?

At the Council, we have witnessed first hand the growth of the LEED AP credentials. Internationally more than 150,000 green building practitioners have achieved a LEED credential, and in Canada we doubled the number of LEED AP’s from 5,000 to 10,000 in 2009 alone. At the same time, we also heard concerns about the credibility of the credential, specifically that there were no ongoing education requirements, or ways in which experienced practitioners could be differentiated from those that were just starting their careers. Responding to these issues, as well as creating and maintaining relevant credentials that cover a wide cross section of the industry, requires significant expertise and financial resources.

Where the credential is administered matters less to us than what it stands for. The new LEED credentials better prepare professionals for working on green projects, and ensure through experience or education that credential holders continue to stay involved in the green building field, and further their knowledge as they go.

Do you agree?

Steve Dulmage
Director, Education and Training

Lessons Learned at the CaGBC (Part I of II): Why Can’t Every LEED Consultant Work Here?

January 27, 2011

Working for the CaGBC has been such a great learning experience. I have now been on Secondment (otherwise known as a temporary assignment) in the Ottawa office for six months as a LEED Technical Coordinator. I have been working alongside Rachelle and Marnie here in Ottawa, and virtually alongside our Vancouverites: Colleen, Cloelle, Chani, Jen and Jenie (and no jokes about it being all girls – we’ve heard them all!). Having had two and a half years of experience working with the Halsall Associates Green Building Team as a Project Associate, I had some experience with working on LEED projects – however this Secondment has already taught me more than I expected. As such, I hope to share a few important pieces of information that might be helpful to my fellow LEED APs out there.

Lesson One: READ. I know this sounds obvious however the LEED Technical Coordinators do not have a magical book that answers every LEED inquiry out there! We use the exact same documentation that is available to everyone working in the market place. If you have a question about how your project meets LEED requirements and can’t find the answer by reading published LEED Canada documentation (Reference Guides, Addendums, Erratas, Application Guides, Credit Interpretation Requests and website) then most likely this means you need to write a Credit Interpretation Request. LEED Coordinators will only point you to what has been published. It’s not that we don’t just love discussing LEED with you (we do!), but there are so many projects undergoing certification (over 350 open files) that our time is quite limited, so dust off that reference guide and take a careful look before sending an email or jumping on the phone.

Lesson Two: Tenant spaces in a LEED Canada-NC 1.0 (with or without addendum) project means that the Application Guide for Core and Shell Buildings and Leased Tenant Space MUST be used. This application guide is not exclusive to Core and Shell applications. It includes guidelines for LEED Canada-NC 1.0 projects that have ANY tenant space. Without reading this guide a project might be moving forward like a car that has driven through a puddle of mud without turning on the windshield wipers: the road ahead (compliance paths) is not going to be clear! If you are a LEED AP working on a LEED Canada-NC or CS 1.0 project with ANY leased tenant space, READ the first 10 pages of the guide before facilitating the design, and no matter what, provide all information requested in section 4.4. The only exception to using this guide is if all spaces have been fit-up and included in all LEED Letter Templates (e.g., the tenants bought into LEED and their spaces were fit-up to LEED requirements as part of the base building contract).

If you feel that these lessons have been helpful to you and your project team then stay tuned for Part II of this Blog in about a month’s time.

Ghislaine (Gigi) Johnson

Now’s your Chance – Get your LEED Project Noticed

January 21, 2011

In 2010, the CaGBC along with SABMagazine, a periodical on sustainable building design and best practices in Canada, produced their first issue of LEED Canada Buildings in Review. The annual series showcases exemplary projects that have obtained LEED certification in Canada. The public record highlights the accomplishments of designers and building owners in LEED that have contributed to setting a standard in sustainability and green building. The architectural works contained in the record demonstrate the implementation of the LEED rating system in innovative and creative ways. The publication also serves to encourage others in the industry to adopt LEED and build green. In addition to providing readers a complete listing of all Canadian LEED projects from 2002-2009, it provides an opportunity for project teams to also have their projects featured with a more in-depth feature. What better way to show-off the work that project teams put into their buildings than to be profiled amongst Canada’s leading green buildings.

Now, CaGBC and SABMag are starting work on this year’s issue and are looking for new LEED-certified projects to showcase. The review will be found in the Jan/ Feb 2011 issue of SABMagazine and will feature projects completed from 2002-2010.  This is a great chance for design and construction professionals as well as building owners to publicize their LEED projects. This year, an additional 4000 copies will be distributed at CaGBC National events and chapters conferences across Canada as well as at the Greenbuild Conference 2011 in Toronto this October. The issue will be available online on the both the CaGBC and SABMag web sites.

Various options are available for displaying projects in the issue. Possibilities of coverage vary from a small photo with a basic listing to full 1- 2 pages articles with a more in-depth profile of the project including multiple photos, descriptive text, company logo and a LEED score card.

Having a project featured in the LEED Canada Buildings in Review will provide members of the green building industry and building owners alike with national exposure in the sustainable field and represents an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to building green.

If you are interested in publicizing your project, you can contact Don Griffith at SABMag, dgriffith@sabmagazine.com

Do not miss this chance to share knowledge as we transform the built environment!


What’s the best way to get your LEED Green Associate credential?

January 13, 2011

In 2009, more than 5,000 Canadians passed the outgoing LEED Canada for New Construction exam to become a LEED AP. Unfortunately almost as many failed it.

In 2010, the new credential began to take a foothold across Canada, and in early 2011 it will also be available in French. At the CaGBC, we’re preparing for the number of individuals interested in this credential to jump significantly throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to pass the exam?

Well it often depends on you. Your industry experience in green building, your ability to relax in a stressful exam environment, and how you study all play various roles, among others, in your plan to prepare to write the exam. So too does the material you’re preparing from.

Here is some content that might help you prepare to become a LEED Green Associate…

1. Firstly, read the LEED Green Associate exam handbook at www.gbci.org. This handbook will answer most of your immediate questions. Most importantly it provides the most up to date list of the primary references for the exam.

2. Study the USGBC Core Concepts and Strategies book and LEED Green Associate study guide. These are 2 useful resources that will help you understand the basics of green building. Both books compliment one another, and the Core Concepts book was one of the original primary references!

3. Another great resource is the Studio 4 study book. It has been well received across the continent, and indeed used by a number of our own staff to prepare for their exams! This book has been so popular that we now include it in our study courses. It may also be available on our website too.

4. Challenge yourself! Flashcards are a great way to familiarize yourself with questions, definitions and acronyms. The CaGBC is turning its flashcards into an Apple App! Great for testing yourself on the bus!

5. Mock exams. These are great to help you benchmark your current knowledge, and monitor the progress as you study.

6. Study courses. Many of you will want to study with your peers. Many of our partner colleges and universities deliver semester long study courses – great for studying over a longer period of time, while our 2 day workshops are aimed at those that want to get the preparation over with, or just need a quick refresher.

Whatever way you choose to prepare, if there are other ways we can help Canadians prepare please email suggestions to epp@cagbc.org. Good luck on the exam!

Steve Dulmage

Green Building is an International Business Opportunity

January 7, 2011

CaGBC is a member of the World Green Building Council since 2004. Headquartered in Toronto, World GBC has a rapidly growing membership of green building councils across the globe. When I attended my first World GBC meeting in Monterrey, Mexico in 2005, there were eight member councils including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the US.  This has changed significantly now with 36 member councils and over 40 emerging councils from every continent.  Europe, Asia and the Americas are the fastest growing with regional networks in place to foster local cooperation.

Canada is recognized as a leader in green building design, LEED certification, performance measurement and verification (GREEN UP) and sustainable community development. Let’s not forget that the two highest rated LEED for Neighbourhood Development projects in the world are in Canada  – Dockside Green in Victoria and the Athlete’s village for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  Manitoba Hydro’s headquarter in Winnipeg, the RBC Centre in Toronto and the new Convention Centre in Vancouver are other examples.  Leading green building projects, organizations and technology/product providers are the target of visits from international delegations. They want to see what Canada has to offer that could help leapfrog old building practices and technologies in developing countries.

CaGBC recently signed a three-year agreement with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) to better position and promote Canadian capabilities internationally.  We have a lot to offer to the world but we need to be better organized and more competitive in our approach.  Australia, Germany and the US are already very active in this sector.

A senior DFAIT representative is working from our Ottawa office to spearhead our international strategy for 2011-13 focusing on three core objectives.

- acquire a better understanding of the capabilities of the Canadian Green Building industry by undertaking a market scan and developing a database of Canadian capabilities;

- showcase Canadian capabilities and identify business opportunities using the upcoming Greenbuild 2011 Conference and Tradeshow, and the World Green Building Council Congress (taking place concurrently in October 2011); and

- improve the International Business Development capabilities of Canadian companies in the Green Building sector through development of training module(s).

The global green buildings sector is growing and represents a significant business/trade opportunity for many Canadian firms.  Environmental Leadership Insights estimates that the total US green building market value is projected to increase from $71.1 billion in 2010 to $173.5 billion in 2015.

Thomas Mueller

A New Web Site Brings Opportunities for a Better LEED Experience

December 23, 2010

The new year is fast approaching, and an ambitious and exciting set of initiatives and goals has been laid out to further our vision of a transformed built environment leading to a sustainable future. Of all the initiatives, one is expected to impact more people than any other, and it should be completed early in the new year.

For some time now, the CaGBC has been working on putting in place an Association Management System. This system will bring new capabilities and efficiencies, and it brings with it a new web site. Here is a sneak peak at some of the new web site features that will affect the LEED program.

Integration of the My CaGBC web site

Currently, individuals must log in to a separate web site, MyCaGBC.org, in order to perform functions such as registering for a workshop, purchasing a document, viewing member-restricted information, or registering a LEED project. Information about LEED is fragmented, residing on one, the other, or both web sites. The content of MyCaGBC.org is hidden from plain site, sometimes resulting in frustration for people unaware that this site should be used to access certain functions and information. The new web site will provide a more familiar structure. Individuals will be required to log in to perform certain functions, but all information and functions will be hosted on one site.

Some of the key functionality provided on MyCaGBC.org will simply be found in the left hand navigation of the LEED Program, including registering projects and Credit Interpretation Requests (CIRs); viewing and editing project information; and searching the CIR database.

All your information in one place

A great feature of the new web site will be the integration of most rating-system specific information into one page for each LEED rating system, amalgamating the content from several pages on the current CaGBC.org and MyCaGBC.org web sites and making it easier to find information. Each LEED rating system will use a consistent, intuitive page layout.

Tools restricted to members, such as LEED Letter Templates and even Application Guides, will all be accessed from the appropriate rating system page. Only documents that are purchased, such as electronic Reference Guides, will require navigation to another page; these will appear under the My Documents page.

A home for EB:O&M and Homes projects

The new database and web site will include LEED Canada for Homes and EB:O&M projects, including those previously registered. Best of all, new projects and CIRs will be able to be registered online – no more faxes!

More information for project teams

In addition to all the project profile information already available online, teams will be able to track the Certification Review status of their projects. As well, they will be able to view any CIRs associated with a specific project.

In order to make this great project-specific information more useful, all individuals added to the online list of project team members will be granted access to the project profile. Currently, only the Main Contact is able to view a project. In addition, a new role has been added: Secondary Contact. The Secondary Contact does not have the permissions of the Main Contact but will be cc’d on all communications regarding the certification of the project.

Improvements to the CIR database

The ability to search CIRs is critical to project teams. The new database will provide enhanced search functionality and include LEED Canada NC 2009 and LEED Canada EB:O&M 2009. For those working on Commercial Interiors projects, the database will resolve issues with the current search functionality.

CIR registration will require submitting a summary question and a subject as separate fields. Perhaps the most important benefit of this change is that it will allow all submitted CIRs to be searched immediately by others, avoiding possible duplication.

Finally, we will be introducing a My CIRs page, allowing those with a number of CIRs to view all their CIRs in one place.

Stay tuned

Although glitches will no doubt be found in the initial days following launch, we will work to address these as quickly as possible. We look forward to hearing your feedback. Expect to hear more about the new web site soon!


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