LEED is the most commonly recognized name in the green building industry, and for good reason. LEED set the original framework for classifying what makes a building green and has driven the industry to new heights over the years - continually striving to improve and expand. LEED doesn't just apply to new buildings, but can also be applied to renovations, interior design and building operations.
If you are unsure about how far to take your commercial green building project, LEED is always a good place to start. The recognition of having a LEED certified building can be a driver in showing the public and industry that your company supports green initiatives and the environment.
This rating system has been at times criticized because it takes alot of documentaiton to prove that the building has in fact met the LEED metrics - and this can add unwanted cost to the project. Though LEED still has many supporters and more often than not, the cost associated with the process is seen to be a value added service in achieving a well recognized green building.
The Canadian Green Building Council website offers much more information on LEED for commercial buildings - and the link is below if you would like to learn more about it.
Net-zero commercial buildings are equally rare as they are amazing. Essentially this is a building that will consume as much energy over the course of a year as it will produce, making it a net-zero energy consumer.
One may think that a climate such as what we find in Canada would not allow us to build and operate commercial buildings that can sustain a year round net-zero energy bill, but we can.
The Mosaic Centre in Edmonton, AB. is a brilliant example of a new commercial net-zero building and is becoming widely known across Canada for its design elogance and progressiveness. The link for the Mosaic Centre is just below for those who want to find out more about it.
A company from Ontario called Del Ridge Homes has been building net-zero homes and condo's for a few years now and were the first to build a net-zero commercial building, the Greenlife Business Centre. They are a model of success when it comes to net-zero design in that their condo's offer some of the lowest condo fees in Canada - which they attribute to both building green and building smart.
The trend of green buildings are proving that not only is it possible to build net-zero, but it is profitable too.
Green district design aims to achieve low carbon and high population density development - where housing, green space and business are all intertwined or where amenities can be accessed by low carbon means from residential areas.
Taking a green approach to district design is not something we see every day. The majority of the time urban planners and architects are not given the opportunity to design an entire district for scratch - rather new buildings are built on lots that are bordered by existing buildings and developments - and we do the best we can with the lot we have.
District energy systems, environmentally friendly transportation networks and spaces that encourage social and cultural well being, all play a big role in green district design. From a building design perspective, green district design in colder climates ensures maximum solar gain in the winter and least solar gain in the summer. That is to say that on the coldest winter days, the sun at the peak of the day is shinning bright on as many spaces as possible (and that buildings are not casting shadows onto eachother). This type of design consideration respective of the seasonal paths of the sun must also be mindful towards heat island effects in the summer (road and walkway infrastructure adding heat to district and buildings), allowing daylight into homes and businesses as much as possible through all seasons to lessen the amount of artificial light needed, and maximizing solar panel exposure in the summer to ensure the high season for solar electricty is captured.
The above synopsis doesn't reflect an exhaustive design methodology for green district design, though does provide a high level overview of some of the important concepts of district design in colder climates.
Although the link below is less focused on the solar exposure optimization of a green district - it does provide a very engaging and comprehensive overview of the eco district plan that was develped for Washington, DC. by U.S. Federal Government's National Capital Planning Commission.
A living building that produces more energy than it uses. The Mosaic Centre listed in the net-zero section is commercial building that is also aiming to achieve a class of Living Building Challenge certification - namely petal certification. Essentially this means that although the Mosaic Centre hasn't acheived all of the requirements necessary to achieve full fledged living building status, they are targeting a portion of the status having achieved some of the metrics in different categories. We can think of this as the difference between achieving LEED Gold standard vs LEED Silver standard.
A living building is no easy feat and it is for this reason that the cerficiation system offers buildings the opportunity to apply for a portion of the designation (petal) vs. the entire designation (living building). Currently there are only eight buildings in the world that are certified living buildings - but the list is growing.
The Living Building Challenge inspires us to create a world that is not only sustainable, but one full of abundance.
For the latest and greatest on living buildings - please click on the link below to be directed to the official website.
Most commercial buildings are built to support a business that must turn a profit. Introducing green ideas to your commercial projects will give you an attractive return on investment while lowering your environmental footprint.
The best sustainable solution for your green building project uses value added cost effectiveness to optimize constructability in the design phase and mitigate escalations in capital cost for your project.
If you go green, and you do it right from the get-go in the design phase, you’ll be left with a building that’s easier on the environment, built with minimal incremental capital cost, lower operating costs in the long run and better return on investment.
The sections below provide a high level overview of classes of green buildings and what you can strive for commercially.