Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification which determines how eco-friendly a building is. The LEED system is universally recognised and is the industry standard for rating the environmental impact of buildings and building practices. LEED certification rates a building’s performance in a number of areas including:
- Energy and atmosphere
- Location and linkages
- Water efficiency
- Awareness and education
- Materials and resources
- Site selection and sustainable development
- Indoor environmental quality
LEED certification qualifies a building in the following categories: A basic LEED certification is rated at 40–49 points, LEED Silver is 50–59 points, LEED Gold is 60–79 points and LEED Platinum is 80 points and above. LEED Platinum status is very difficult to achieve, but a number of prominent Toronto institutions have managed to accomplish their LEED platinum goals.
Why get LEED certification?
While some companies have environmental policies in place, getting LEED platinum status is a complex and costly endeavour and you may be questioning its efficacy in providing your company with a valid return on investment. Leaders in industry are coming around to environmentally friendly building techniques because it saves money on utility bills (30-50%) and provides a healthy work environment that encourages fewer sick days and lower rates of employee turnover. A Michigan State University study showed that productivity in LEED-certified buildings was 2.18% higher than in buildings that were not LEED certified. This translates to an additional 39 hours per employee per annum.
A recent study by the UCLA Institute for the Environment and Sustainability called “Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market” shows green certification can add an average of 9% to the resale value of buildings. LEED certification also means that building owners can charge higher rents.
Not only is the building itself more valuable, but a recent study by the University of Notre Dame showed that LEED certification is actually good for business. The study compared 93 LEED-certified bank branches with 469 uncertified branches in the same banking chain. The LEED-certified branches showed improved performance with over $3 million more in deposits each year. They also opened 458 more deposit accounts, 25 more loan accounts and had $1 million more in loan balances. This translates into $461, 300 each year per employee more for the LEED-certified branches.
And let’s not forget the impressive positive impact that LEED-certified buildings have on the environment. They produce about 70% less solid waste, use 25-50% less energy and 40% less water while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35%.
LEED Platinum Buildings in Toronto
TD Center Tower: This TD Bank showpiece tower at 100 Wellington Ave was the first Toronto building to achieve LEED platinum status. Among its best features is a green portal which displays real time energy usage for the public to monitor.
Enermodal Engineering: The Toronto branch of this sustainable design and engineering firm leads by example. The company has overseen 250 LEED-certified projects across North America.
RBC Waterpark: Still under construction, the 900,000 square foot RBC WaterPark tower will be complete in 2014. One of its most interesting features is a deep-lake cooling system.
Archetype Sustainable House: This is a really great example of the future of green building. The sustainable house scores an impressive 92/100 and is on display at the Living City Campus at Kortright in Vaughan.