Star - green building certification / rating system

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 or new buildings, commercial or residential buildings and comprehensive or specific assessments. Following is a complete list of the different green building certification / rating systems operating in Canada, listed alphabetically. 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 particular 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. 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® qualified home results in a 20% more energy efficient home compared to one built to the minimum applicable building code.

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.

Net Zero Home Labelling Program – a Canadian Home Builders’ Association initiative, the Net Zero Labelling Program both sets out technical requirements for and recognizes 2 tiers of homes (new or retrofitted, including low-rise Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) that reach stringent energy performance standards. The second-tier label, Net Zero Ready, is applied to homes that have energy performance levels between 50 and 80% better than homes built to the applicable standard building code. The first tier of labels, Net Zero, is reserved for homes that are 100% more energy efficient than ones built to the applicable code. Homes produce as much energy as they consume and feature filtered fresh air systems and water-saving technology.

Novoclimat – This initiative of Transition énergétique Québec 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.

SITES Rating System – This certification from the Sustainable SITES Initiative focuses on sustainable land and water use and evaluates the building site rather than the building. It works on a points system, where GCBI (Green Business Certification Inc.) measures projects against performance criteria and awards points that will determine the project’s level of certification. Performance criteria include air quality, wildlife habitat, energy consumption, water use and human health. Applications can be submitted either in full or as a split review, where applications are submitted and reviewed at the end of the design phase and at the end of building.

TRUE Zero Waste – A GCBI program focusing on waste output, this certification is about changing values as well as practices. It’s geared towards existing public buildings and encourages owners and management teams to adopt zero waste cultures. Facilities work towards certification by meeting program requirements and earning points. Program requirements include diverting a minimum of 90% of solid, non-hazardous wastes from landfills for a period of 12 consecutive months. Points categories include zero-waste purchasing, composting, reuse, leadership, innovation and more.

Zero Carbon Building Standard – This Canada Green Building Council Standard evaluates new and existing buildings by carbon emissions, with the goal of buildings reaching a zero carbon balance. New builds can earn Zero Carbon Building – Design certification by meeting thresholds for factors including onsite renewable energy, energy efficiency and thermal energy demand performance. Energy consumption and emissions from structural materials must also be assessed. Existing buildings can earn Zero Carbon Building – Performance certification after successfully meeting requirements for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions over a 12-month period. Continued certification depends on annual performance reviews.

Zero Energy Certification – The International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy Building (ZEB) Certification™ program recognizes buildings whose energy needs are met entirely through on-site renewable energy. Some exceptions are allowed. Independent, third-party audits measure a building’s performance data over 12 consecutive months. ILFI works with several organizations that offer subsidies and rebates for renewable energy.

Zero Tool – An Architecture 2030 project, the Zero Tool is a way to measure energy use intensity (EUI). It uses data from Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS 2003) to allow builders to compare their EUI baselines and targets with similar buildings. The tool is also a knowledge-sharing program that gives builders information about how other buildings achieved their EUIs. Builders input information about their project and the Zero Tool assigns the building a Zero Score out of 100, with a score of 100 representing the typical energy performance of buildings from the 2003 CBECS and a score of zero representing a building that has achieved zero net carbon.

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