VIEWPOINT: LEED v4 in Canada

The Canadian green building market has evolved rapidly over the last 10 years.
There are now over 4500 LEED projects registered in Canada, of which over 1500 are certified. The Canadian green building industry and LEED have driven continual improvements in building construction and operation and maintenance meanwhile making real impacts on energy and water consumption, waste reduction and occupant well-being. LEED was always intended to evolve with the market, and LEED version 4 (LEED v4) is about taking the next step towards market transformation and raising the ceiling of building performance.


What’s Coming and What it Means to You

In developing LEED v4, it was time to re-evaluate where to set the bar on performance, but also take what has been learned as an industry and reconsider how the bar is measured. To do this, there was large-scale industry dialog with six public comment periods that generated over 22,000 comments. The result is a better rating system that focuses on:
• Increased stringency, including increased thresholds in energy, water, waste and indoor environmental air quality to ensure LEED v4 projects continue to drive change;
• The addition of Environmental Product Declarations, life cycle assessment, and material ingredient reporting as next steps in addressing the environmental impacts from materials;
• An increased focus on human health, biodiversity, green economy and community.
The changes to the Materials Credits are a very exciting aspect of LEED v4. These changes will lead to a greater knowledge and expertise within the industry about the use of sustainable materials and the impact they can have, and also generate a lot of innovation from manufacturers.

The CaGBC’s role in LEED v4
LEED v4 was launched at Greenbuild in November 2013 and is currently available in Canada, but in order to facilitate the transition, Canadian projects will still be able to register under the current rating system (LEED Canada 2009) until June, 2015. This will give professionals and owners a period of time to learn about and prepare for the new requirements.
The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) will continue to provide certification reviews under LEED v4 to ensure an appreciation and understanding of the unique Canadian context.  We will also continue to provide local support for any questions and issues that may arise during the design, construction, and certification of projects. Lastly, CaGBC will also be developing Alternate Compliance Paths for Canadian projects.

Canadian Alternative Compliance Paths
In an effort to increase the range of LEED resources for Canadians and follow an internationally consistent approach to how LEED is deployed in different regions of the world, the CaGBC will not be developing stand-alone Canadian rating systems. Instead, we will streamline development work by providing Canadian options for demonstrating compliance – termed Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs) – within the international rating systems. These will be made available to Canadians at the CaGBC National Conference and Expo, Building Lasting Change, which will be held in Toronto June 2 - 4.
ACPs will allow the CaGBC to identify equivalent means of demonstrating compliance to the credit requirements. For example, where an equivalent Canadian reference standard exists, an ACP can allow for the use of that standard.

What is new for Canadians?
For Canadians, LEED v4 brings big changes and big benefits. All 21 of the LEED v4 rating systems will now be available to Canadians, including new rating systems for data centres, hotels, warehouses and other specific project types that will make LEED even more accessible to various types of projects.
Also, while the CaGBC will continue to provide certification reviews under LEED v4, Canadians will now use LEED Online to coordinate the submission process as well as certification review. LEED Online provides a platform for the whole project team to coordinate their work, view their areas of responsibility and upload supporting documentation.

Learn more about LEED v4
The CaGBC is developing a number of education opportunities, from local workshops to webinar series, to help provide the resources Canadians need to understand LEED v4. For the latest information, visit the Education section at To start, you can watch our one-hour LEED v4 intro webinar (free to all CaGBC members) which gives a brief overview of LEED v4, touching on the major themes and detailing how the rating systems will be introduced in Canada. Members can view the webinar by signing in on “My CaGBC”.
Locally, the Greater Toronto Chapter (CaGBC) is offering the new Introduction to LEED v4 in-class workshop on April 2, 2014. This workshop will provide a deeper foundational grasp of the major changes and more thoroughly explore the impact of LEED v4 on Canadian projects and show how they can ultimately benefit from the Canadian Alternative Compliance Paths that are currently under development.
As a part of the National Conference pre-conference programming, the CaGBC will be offering a half-day workshop - Materials in LEED v4. This workshop will delve into the details of the LEED v4 materials credits – providing the information you need to ensure your products meet the needs of the green construction market and helping those who specify materials understand how these new tools and information will lead to the use of healthier, more sustainable products.

Mark Hutchinson is Director of Green Building Programs, CaGBC .

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