Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Standing Committee of Council on Planning and the Environment


The Directors of Current Planning and City Plans, in consultation with the General Managers of Engineering Services and the Park Board, the Chief Building Official, and the Directors of Facilities Development, Real Estate Services, Finance and Risk Management


Applying the LEEDTM Rating System





The City of Vancouver has many policies which encourage energy efficiency and improved building environmental performance.

With particular regard to Southeast False Creek, Council endorsed a range of strategies and plans to "significantly increase energy efficiency in SEFC buildings, infrastructure, transportation, and open space..." in adopting the Southeast False Creek Policy Statement in October 1999. More specifically, the Policy Statement suggested creating and implementing guidelines for green buildings.


This report summarizes the work to date on a process that explored the use of the LEEDTM building assessment method for Southeast False Creek (SEFC) and all new City buildings. It also identifies the work that remains to be done, namely: to further assess the use of LEEDTM in the development of new City facilities; to review how LEEDTM fits with our regulatory structure; and to explore ways of encouraging the private sector to use LEEDTM.


The issue of green buildings was first raised in the Southeast False Creek Policy Statement, which instructed staff to explore and develop green building strategies. In August 2001, Council unanimously approved a six month process to consider the LEEDTM building assessment method for use in SEFC. LEEDTM rates the environmental performance of a building on a number of criteria thereby providing a benchmark for achievement and comparison, and also serves as a framework for green design strategies (for a more thorough explanation of LEEDTM, see Appendix A).

Other initiatives have also been undertaken, including Council's decisions to have two buildings at the new Chess St. works yard meet a LEEDTM Silver rating. As well, because of the green building activity taking place simultaneously within different City departments, staff from Engineering, Facilities Development, Building, the Park Board, and Planning realized the opportunity to collaborate and share information. Further, the City of Vancouver has become a corporate member of the US Green Buildings Council (USGBC), and staff from several departments have taken LEEDTM training and are thus eligible to become LEEDTM certified practitioners.


Consultation Process - Is LEEDTM the right green building tool?

Over the last six months, staff (in conjunction with our partners at the GVRD and Province) have consulted with public and private industry stakeholders about applying LEEDTM in SEFC and promoting the use of LEEDTM in private development. Following Council's direction in November 2001, this consultation was expanded to include discussion around the use of LEEDTM for all new City buildings.

The kick-off event for this process was the October 3rd workshop on green buildings hosted by the GVRD. This event was attended by many City Councillors, staff, and private sector representatives. Building on the raised awareness from this event, staff held a series of meetings and round-table discussions with stakeholders to begin a dialogue on green buildings and the use of LEEDTM in Vancouver. Participants included: the Urban Development Institute, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Forest Alliance of BC, the SEFC Stewardship Group, and Smart Growth BC (the full list of consulted stakeholders can be found in Appendix B).

Throughout the sessions, participants voiced support for the use of LEEDTM for City development. It was felt that the City of Vancouver should show leadership, and at the same time test the technical concepts and financial implications of green buildings. In terms of a broader application, concerns were raised about a mandated or regulated use of LEEDTM with respect to private development.

Therefore, based on:
· public and private support for LEEDTM ,
· support for LEEDTM from City departments (Real Estate Services, Facilities Development, Office of City Building, Planning, Engineering Services),
· the tremendous amount of activity taking place in North America to register buildings for LEEDTM certification , and
· the consultant study that assessed several methods and then determined that LEEDTM was the most appropriate tool for use in BC,
staff have concluded that LEEDTM is the most effective green building tool for use by the city of Vancouver. However, more work needs to be done before firm conclusions can be drawn about the implications of using LEEDTM to "green" new City buildings and encourage private developers (as outlined in the section of this report entitled "Further Work - City Buildings, LEEDTM Implementation, and Incentives" which begins on page 5).

For SEFC in particular, because development on the site remains 4-5 years away, staff suggest proceeding with more immediate green building work (see above), and then reporting back to Council at a time closer to development with recommendations to adopt LEEDTM and determine - at that time - the level of certification to achieve.

LEEDTM - What level of certification is appropriate?

While this question will be explored further as part of the next phase of work, preliminary staff reviews suggest that the level of LEEDTM certification to be attained should be decided on a site specific basis and should not be applied in a blanket approach. For example, it may be appropriate to strive for LEEDTM Certified on a project for which it would be difficult to amass many points because of the location (with respect to transit) or condition of the site. On the other hand, it may well be appropriate to strive for LEEDTM Gold in an area like SEFC, which automatically qualifies for several LEEDTM points because it is a remediated brownfield site, close to transit and so on. This question is especially relevant to new City buildings, as many projects are pre-assigned a site and thus must use the LEEDTM tool within these parameters.

Update - LEEDTM BC Steering Committee and Initiatives at the National Level

Since spring 2000, staff have worked with both the GVRD and the Province of BC on ways of encouraging greener building practices. This partnership became formalized as the "LEEDTM BC Steering Committee", and grew to include representatives from BC Hydro and BC Gas.

The key work of the LEEDTM BC Steering Committee has been to produce (with the help of a consultant) the LEEDTM BC Applications Guide. This document is crucial to applying LEEDTM in this region, as it adapts LEEDTM to fit local regulatory and climatic contexts. The consultant has submitted the final draft of the Applications Guide to the US Green Buildings Council for review, and acceptance is expected later this year.

As well, the LEEDTM BC Steering Committee has been working with a national committee (comprised of Federal government staff, architects, and other interested parties) charged with moving toward the adoption of LEEDTM across Canada and establishing a Canadian Green Buildings Council (CAGBC). Representatives from both groups have met with the USGBC to discuss how the CAGBC will operate under the authority of the USGBC, thus retaining the influence, expertise, and resources of the USGBC, but will also function independently, allowing the LEEDTM tool to be adapted to, and administered in Canada.

Update - Research/Other Work

Together with the LEEDTM BC Steering Committee, Planning staff are participating in a number of studies to further the use of LEEDTM in BC and the Applications Guide.

A comprehensive energy modelling study is underway, which will propose Canadian equivalents to the measures used in LEEDTM. As well, a consultant team is presently working on identifying the regulatory impacts on green buildings, including Code issues, in consultation with the City's Chief Building Official. Following this, research will begin to explore non-regulatory barriers, such as perceptions about additional costs and benefits.

Staff are also currently assisting the GVRD on two studies that examine green building/LEEDTM implementation and further the GVRD's Sustainable Region Initiative. The first is a strategic assessment of the extent and potential magnitude of infrastructure savings and environmental benefits. The second study is to develop a LEEDTM implementation guide, which will `discuss green building construction, prioritize green building strategies and technologies, and identify resources and programs to enable municipalities to achieve LEEDTM certification for their buildings". Both of these studies are near completion. The continued participation of City staff in this work is essential to implementing LEEDTM in Vancouver.

As well, as per Council's request, staff have been researching initial costs of green buildings and have found varying reports, ranging from a 4% premium to no premium to a reduced first cost. Staff note that even a 4% rise can be recovered within a reasonable period of time using life-cycle costing, and all signs indicate that premiums are being rapidly reduced as designers and suppliers progress through the learning curve of green building. More detailed data on costing should be available in the near future due to the large rise in number of buildings registered for LEEDTM certification (over 400). Staff will continue to monitor this information to get a firm grasp on the cost information that is vital to gaining acceptance of LEEDTM in the private sector, and will report back to Council on this issue at the conclusion of the proposed process.

Further Work - City Buildings, LEEDTM Implementation, and Incentives

Work Program

To move forward with LEEDTM, staff need to complete the work and studies underway (as outlined above), as well as move forward on some additional work items.

First, staff in Facilities Development and Planning agree that there is a need to obtain hands-on experience and cost information before recommending LEEDTM for all new City buildings. The most likely building project that could provide this experience would be the joint use library and community centre project at #1 Kingsway outlined as part of the 2003-2005 Capital Plan. Staff from several departments would work collaboratively on this project, including those noted, the Library and Park Board, and others. As well, staff anticipate learning from the Chess St. works yard project as it progresses toward a LEEDTM Silver rating .

As well, staff need to explore potential Building Code amendments or demonstrated equivalencies, primarily with the office of the Chief Building Official and staff from Inspections. The end result would be several workable solutions which satisfy the demands of those enforcing the Code. Notably, the wheels are in motion - City staff from this department recently collaborated on a case study presented to the 4th International Conference on Performance Based Building Codes. This case study applied performance based fire safety engineering to a major hotel and convention centre project in the Vancouver area, which was to be designed to achieve a LEEDTM Silver rating. This approach yielded annual cost savings of the order of 4.4% on capital cost and 5.1% on life cycle costs over a 30 year period.

Further, a key component in the implementation of LEEDTM and in the move toward market transformation is defining the City's role in encouraging a shift toward greener buildings in the private sector. Mechanisms to encourage the private sector need to be thoroughly assessed.

The timing for the aforementioned tasks as well as ongoing commitments is shown in the following illustration.

Table 1 - Timeline












complete current studies (with the Province and GVRD)


participate in identifying non-regulatory barriers


identify and resolve regulatory/code impacts


identify and evaluate ways to encourage the private sector


participate in pilot project /continue to gather cost info.


consult with stakeholders


draft report, and report back to Council


Staffing and Budget

To accomplish this work program, and to ensure that the City continues to play a major role in the LEEDTM BC Steering Committee's work with the GVRD and Province, it is recommended to extend the existing temporary Planner I position for nine months commencing September 2002. Table 2, which follows, identifies the cost of this staffing and activity. Naturally, staff would continue to share costs whenever possible with both the GVRD and the Province throughout this next and final phase of work. Future work will be assumed by staff in Facilities Development (who are aware and in agreement with this proposal) with possible assistance from the new Sustainability Support Group. The collaborative nature of the work completed as well as proposed should be noted: Planning is leading an inter-disciplinary process that involves staff from many City departments, most importantly those that will implement this work.

Table 2 - Budget

Staffing (Planning, 9 months)


Consultancies, public involvement and presentations, renew City of Vancouver membership in USGBC




Staff recommend that funding be provided from the contingency reserve - since this is a one-time effort that is timed to match commitments made by other participating partners - and the 2003 budget.


Over the last several months staff have made significant progress in advancing LEEDTM as a rating system for use on new buildings across our province, region, and city. While staff are now comfortable advocating LEEDTM and anticipate its application in SEFC, there is still some work required before the same level of comfort will be achieved in regard to recommending the use of LEEDTM for all new City buildings, introducing changes to our regulations, and considering mechanisms to encourage the private sector. To complete this work and continue as a leader - with the Province and the GVRD - in the process of moving toward green buildings, staff recommend approval of the work program, staffing and budget set out in this report.

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Definition of LEEDTM

LEEDTM is a building environmental assessment method, designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings. In the near future, LEEDTM will have the capability to rate all residential buildings, commercial interiors, and building operations and maintenance.
What is a building environmental assessment method?
An assessment method is a way to evaluate the environmental performance of a building against an explicit set of criteria. In identifying a building's performance, an environmental assessment provides clear guidance on the environmental strengths or deficiencies of a building thereby informing an evolving design or remedial work.

Using a recognized assessment method allows for benchmarking and comparison. For example, different projects can be compared based on their success at meeting the established green building targets. At a larger scale, different cities or jurisdictions can be compared in terms of theirabilities to meet greener building practices.

To perform a LEEDTM assessment, a building is evaluated on a number of elements grouped under the following criteria:

· Sustainable Sites
· Water Efficiency
· Energy and Atmosphere
· Materials and Resources
· Indoor Environmental Quality

In the course of the evaluation, the building is assigned a number of points depending upon how well the intent and requirements of each individual credit have been met. That number of points determines the level of performance, and the building is either found to be uncertifiable or designated LEEDTM Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The point system is as follows:

· Certified 26-32 points
· Silver 33-38 points
· Gold 39-51 points

· Platinum 52+ points


More detailed information on the USGBC, LEEDTM, LEEDTM certified projects, and jurisdictions/organizations using LEEDTM can be found at:

SEFC/LEEDTM Consultation Process - Participants

Urban Development Institute

Urban Development Institute

National Association of Industrial and Office Properties

Building Owners and Managers Association
Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC

Planning Institute of BC

Southeast False Creek Stewardship Group
BC Hydro
Forest Alliance of BC
SmartGrowth BC
Southeast False Creek Working Group
University of British Columbia


Greater Vancouver Regional District

Vancouver City Planning Commission

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