Despite opposition, a key figure in the green building and construction industry in Alberta and across Canada has defended the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED) certification, saying the program has made great strides in advancing sustainable practices in the industry.
As the Alberta chapter of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) celebrates notching up its 100th LEED-certified project, chapter chair Cam Munro has declared that a number of the objections to the certification scheme – that it is unwieldy, expensive and slow – are misplaced and wrong.
“This month, Alberta celebrates a huge milestone. We have reached 100 LEED certified projects throughout the province,” Munro said. “That’s right – we are celebrating LEED and what it has helped us accomplish.”
Common arguments against the certification revolve around the cost of LEED green building and what is sometimes perceived as a cumbersome certification process, with actual certification not taking place until months or sometimes years after a project has been registered. Munro says, however, that these arguments are misplaced.
“The cost of LEED certification has been discussed and challenged for some years. LEED certification is a recognized and respected achievement. It represents the equivalent of professional accreditation – and that represents a significant benefit and value to the project team,” he said. “And are LEED buildings more costly to design and build? Not necessarily, but even those that reflect additional initial costs can expect significantly lower operational costs throughout the lifespan of the building.”
Munro added that even if it were costly at least initially, the program merely serves to push the industry in a direction it should take anyway.
Munro acknowledges that the process takes time and that project teams need to communicate this more effectively with building owners. He also says the industry as a whole needs to move away from the compartmentalisation of project costs according to building phase and towards a process in which all costs are amortised over the building’s life.