Green Building Certifications / Rating Systems

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Canadian green builders have a few options to choose from when selecting a green building certification or rating system. Programs have been created to fit certain niches, such as existing buildings or new, commercial or residential and comprehensive or specific assessments. Following is a complete list of the different green building certification / rating systems operating in Canada, listed alphabetically (they are also in the directory, filed under “Certifications / Rating Systems”). Contact us if you’d like to add any to this list.

BOMA BESt – Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada have developed BOMA BESt (Building Environmental Standards) to assess energy and environmental performance for existing buildings (offices, shopping centres, open air retail plazas, light industrial buildings and multi-unit buildings), using the Green Globes environmental assessment platform (see below). BOMA BESt assesses environmental performance and management over the following six areas: energy, water, waste reduction and site, emissions and effluents, indoor environment and environmental management system.

BREEAM – BREEAM is a widely recognized environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. This international system measures performance against established benchmarks over a number of categories, such as energy and water use, health, well-being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

BuiltGreen – BuiltGreen Canada is a national certification program focused on home building. BUILT GREEN® homes account for: resource efficiency (i.e. electrical, water), comfort (i.e. airtight, sound reduction), home health (ventilation, low/zero VOC paints), durability and waste reduction. The result is a home that could save 10 per cent in annual utility bills as compared to a code-built home, is more comfortable, is healthier to live in, lasts longer and is constructed more efficiently than a conventional home.

EnerGuide – This straightforward 0 to 100 rating system, backed by the federal government department Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), measures a home’s energy performance only, so it’s specifically for users wanting to focus on this specific aspect of a home’s construction. EnerGuide homes have had their plans evaluated by a certified energy advisor. The result is an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient home with lower operating costs.

ENERGY STAR for New Homes – ENERGY STAR for New Homes is also backed by NRCan, but just for the Ontario market. The label ensures homes are performance tested, third-party verified and government backed. ENERGY STAR homes’ energy efficiency improvements are mostly hidden—better insulation, high-performance windows, tightly air sealed—but very effective at improving home performance. Constructing an ENERGY STAR home results in 2 to 3 tonnes less greenhouse gas emissions and 25 per cent savings in monthly utilities compared to a home built to the minimum Ontario Building Code.

Envirohome – This joint initiative of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and TD Canada Trust is a marketing program for R-2000 builders and R-2000 homes. To qualify as an Envirohome, builders must first start with R-2000 designation and then incorporate additional features that are based on Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Healthy Housing initiative, such as: occupant health, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, environmental responsibility, and affordability. (Healthy Housing is an initiative that recognizes a builder’s knowledge and skills rather awarding specific buildings).

EQuilibrium™ – CMHC is leading this national sustainable housing demonstration initiative to develop an approach to promoting low-environmental impact healthy housing. EQuilibrium™ is an integrated whole house solution specifically designed to deal with the challenges of the Canadian climate. A limited number of buildings are being constructed to this standard as it’s currently a demonstration initiative.

Green Globes – This assessment and rating system is operated by BOMA BESt for existing buildings (see above) and ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd. for other uses. Green Globes is an online, interactive tool with automated reporting that significantly reduces the time and cost of submissions.

LEED – LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized third-party certification program for buildings and homes that’s administered in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). LEED adopts a holistic approach to sustainability, accounting for the following five areas: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Ratings of certified, silver, gold or platinum are awarded according to a comprehensive 100-point rating system. LEED-certified buildings and homes result in healthier environments, lower operating costs and a reduced impact on the environment.

Living Building Challenge – Living Building Challenge is equal parts philosophy, advocacy platform and certification program. The intent is to define priorities not just on a technical level, but as a set of core values to direct the building industry towards truly understanding how to solve problems rather than just shifting them. This performance-based standard promotes regional solutions that respond to different variables rather than being a checklist of best practices. The challenge covers seven areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

Novoclimat – This initiative of the Quebec Ressources Naturelles et Faune department is a program for new homes to improve energy efficiency. Homes built according to this standard realize improved energy performance of a minimum of 25 per cent.

Passive House – This certification system focuses on optimizing a home or building’s envelope to maintain heat through: super-insulation, air tightness, high performance windows, efficient heat recovery ventilation and by minimizing thermal bridges. With this focus on optimizing building envelope, Passive House has a high standard in terms of lowering heating energy consumption, making it a good choice for builders targeting passive design and wanting strong heating energy efficiency.

R-2000 – This is another standard administered by NRCan. R-2000 measures energy efficiency, indoor air tightness quality and environmental responsibility in home construction, promising energy savings, reduced environmental impact, improved home health and comfort.

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