canada leading in green buildings

Sustainable, Eco-Friendly, and Green: The careless practice of using these terms daily and synonymously, especially by marketers, has made them a little confusing.

All these terms do point to consciousness as well as the environmental and social responsibility (although most aren’t strict legal or accredited definitions) so you could technically use them interchangeably. However, there are small differences in their meaning that is necessary to define.

To clear up the confusion, here are some guidelines for those people that are interested in the numerous shades of green.

Green vs. Sustainable vs. Eco-friendly

The significance of the word “green” has gone beyond the color. It’s now often used in an informal speech to relate to almost everything associated with benefiting the environment, from the movement to fashion and architecture.

Eco-friendly is not such a broad term. It means that something does not harm the planet.

But sustainable is the precisely defined term here represents the broad scope of activities and issues which, according to the United Nations, don’t undermine the ability of future generations to fulfill their needs.

Sustainability sets the focus on the future. It means the action or item is creating economic, social and ecological benefits, while not using too many resources or causing contamination. Yes, each of these aspects is covered under this one word.

In comparison to `”eco-friendly” and “green,” sustainability has higher standards. Green does not necessarily mean sustainable, although sustainability includes green products and eco-friendly activities. As an example, a product made from renewable sources is deemed green, yet if a life-cycle analysis demonstrates that it required lots of energy to manufacture and ship to you, and when there is not a proper method to dispose of the item, then it is not thought to be sustainable.

To be straightforward, there is not much out there in the consumer item world that is sustainable. Some products are more sustainable as compared to the alternatives.

Going green doesn’t mean you start recycling and purchasing organic food. A growing number of buildings are constructed to be as environment-friendly as possible.

In Canada, the Canadian Green Building Council employs an adjusted version of the LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, to rate buildings on basis of their environment-friendly construction.

Here are 20 of the greenest buildings of Canada depending on this certification.

1. The Gulf Islands National Parks Preserve Operations Centre, Sydney British Columbia

The Operations Center at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve was the first buildings in Canada to obtain LEED Platinum status, in 2006. It harvests rainwater for reuse, such as in low-flush bathrooms, uses photovoltaic solar energy and features drought-tolerant plants for landscaping.

2. Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, Vancouver, British Columbia

This LEED Platinum-certified building features Canada’s largest living roof, that’s irrigated with wastewater from the own treatment plant of the building. The construction uses sea water in its cooling systems and heating and contains a fish habitat complete with kelp forest built into its foundation.

3. VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia

The LEED Platinum-certified VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center has won awards for its sustainable design and was the first building to apply for Living Construction Challenge recognition. The construction is water-independent using rainwater from its green home and treating all of its black water on-site.

4. Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability, Vancouver, British Columbia

Situated on the Point Grey campus of the University of British Columbia, the CIRS or Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability uses rainwater for its water needs. Natural ventilation and lighting help lessen the energy use of the LEED Certified building.


credit:  MetroVancouver

5. Dockside Green, Victoria, British Columbia

The Dockside Green Building is LEED Platinum certified and has its own gasification plant for generating gas for heating. Additionally, it treats its sewage for reuse, has showers, faucets and appliances, and a car-sharing program. Residents may control their heating system remotely through the internet.

6. Eighth Avenue Place, Calgary, Alberta

Eighth Avenue Place wasn’t constructed without controversy, as the older Penny Lane Mall had to be demolished to make space for two new office towers. However, the complex includes a green roof, a winter garden, and thermal energy monitoring and control, earning its LEED Platinum status.

7. U of C’s Energy Environment Experiential Learning Building, Calgary, Alberta

This building uses about half as much energy as a traditional laboratory building, because of features like natural ventilation,  solar shutters, and ground tubes. The LEED Platinum Certified building also uses rainwater and has low-flow pipes fittings.

8. Centennial Place, Calgary, Alberta

Both skyscrapers that make up the LEED Platinum-certified Centennial Place feature low-flow pipes fittings, curtain wall technology and motion sensors on the light controls. The complex also has a heating and cooling system and a green roof.

9. Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The headquarters of Manitoba Hydro was the first office tower in North America to receive LEED Platinum certification. Characteristics such as a solar chimney for venting,  green roofs,  waterfalls to humidify fresh air, a geothermal HVAC system, high ceilings, and glass walls for natural lighting means that the building saves about 70 percent energy.

10. TD Center, Toronto, Ontario

Since 2015, all six buildings contributing to the TD Center have been LEED Platinum Certified which makes it one of the largest complexes of North America. Its sustainable features include a  cooling system that uses water from the bottom of Lake Ontario, a living roof, and a system which measures soil moisture to reduce water consumption.

11. Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto, Ontario

The LEED Platinum-certified Plaza has been created to maximize natural daylight. The building is cleaned during the day as opposed to at night to reduce its energy consumption even more. TV monitors give workers real-time updates on how much energy they are consuming, with suggestions on the best way best to decrease this.

Toronto skyline green buildings

12. University of Waterloo’s Environment 3 Building, Waterloo, Ontario

This building on the campus of the University of Waterloo has LEED Platinum status and has been constructed with recycled steel and sustainable wood. Light is provided by a glass atrium while a living wall linked to the ventilation system filters the air.

13. Earth Rangers Centre, Woodbridge, Ontario

The headquarters for the largest conservation of Canada Organization is a pioneer in sustainable building technologies. The solar panels in the parking area and on top of the aviary, radiant heating and cooling technology and displacement ventilation are some of the traits that received the Earth Rangers Centre LEED Platinum certification.

14. Robinson Place, Peterborough, Ontario

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is housed by the LEED Platinum-certified Robinson Place. Its sustainable features include energy-efficient chillers, a community garden, and a rainwater collection system for use in the bathrooms, and a community garden.

15. Bibliothèque du Boisé, Montreal, Quebec

Constructed mostly from locally sourced, recyclable materials, the award-winning Bibliothèque du Boisé; has LEED Platinum status. Three-quarters of the building’s floor area can be lit naturally while a glass prism traps heat which is then redistributed.

16. Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, Quebec

Light and Natural ventilation are two of the procedures used to decrease the energy intake of this building. The LEED-certified construction comes with the drought-resistant plant, a green roof and rainwater collection for less water intake.

Quebec Canada

17. Deloitte Tower, Montreal, Quebec

The office building in Montreal to have LEED Platinum status, the Deloitte Tower uses grey-tinted glass with a special coating to control heat within the building and to allow for natural light. This means a significant decrease in energy consumption.

18. Purdy’s Wharf, Halifax, Nova Scotia

A striking characteristic of the skyline of Halifax is the three houses of Purdy’s Wharf. The office building was the first to earn LEED Gold certification in Atlantic Canada and uses sea water to cool the buildings’ water.

19. Halifax Central Library, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Halifax Central Library was created to resemble a stack of novels but also to be environmentally sustainable. The LEED construction has a glazed façade to allow for solar heating while maximizing natural light. Other features are a green roof and a rainwater harvesting system.

20. Greenstone Construction, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

The Greenstone Building of Yellowknife was the first building of Northern Canada to achieve LEED Gold status. The curtain wall using photovoltaic cells at the central atrium of the building is among the greatest in the world and can be used to heat water harvested from groundwater and the green roof.

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is happy to declare that Canada has repeatedly listed second in the Top 10 Regions and Countries for LEED list. Curated from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the founders of the LEED green building program, this list acknowledges markets outside the U.S. which are using LEED to make better, more sustainable places where residents learn, live, play and work. Canada earned the distinction for its present total of 2,970 LEED certified projects totaling over 40.77 million gross square meters of distance.

“Canada’s green building industry has consistently proven that we are among the most innovative in the world, and this result further cements that leadership position,” says Thomas Mueller, President, and CEO of the Canada Green Building Council. “LEED has and will continue to be instrumental in bringing green building solutions to scale including energy efficiency and carbon, health and wellness, resiliency and advanced material choices. With LEED we can deliver now to substantially improve performance for buildings across Canada.”

The list ranks regions and countries in terms of cumulative LEED accredited square meters as of December 31, 2017, and represents 6,657 certified projects totaling over 158 million square meters.  LEED is the world’s widely used green building program with projects in over 167 countries and territories with more than 205,800 square meters of distance certifying daily.

It’s a regional, global and local solution which offers a framework for communities, buildings, and cities to build highly productive and affordable spaces while serving to enhance the quality of living.

The yearly list ranks the top 10 LEED nations in terms of Gross square meters (GSM):

China, at 47.16 m2 (508 sf.) and 1211 LEED-certified projects.

Canada, at 40.77 m2 (439 sf.) and 2970 projects.

India, at 20.28 m2 (218 sf.) and 752 projects.

Brazil, at 14.83 m2 (160 sf.) and 461 projects.

Germany, at 7 m2 (75 sf.) and 276 projects.

The Republic of Korea, at 6.66 m2 (72 sf.) and 106 projects.

Taiwan, at 6.15 m2 (66 sf.) and 124 projects.

Turkey, at 6.06 m2 (65 sf.) and 245 projects.

Mexico, at 5.16 m2 (55 sf.) and 305 projects.

The United Arab Emirates, at 4.41 m2 (47 sf.) and 207 projects.

“Canada remains an important leader in driving the adoption of LEED and green building. With nearly 3,000 LEED certified projects throughout the country, we are seeing the leaders in this market push the boundaries of what it means to be a high-performing building or space,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President, and CEO, USGBC and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the global certifying body for LEED projects.

“Progress happens one project at a time and the work being done across Canada is helping to define where the industry is moving and how we stay focused on finding solutions that will continue to improve our quality of life.”

Canada is part of a growing number of countries committed to a  more sustainable and greener built environment. According to a Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, nations expressed that economic forces were the most potent operators for green buildings.

The SmartMarket report also reported that increasing user interest has driven the planet’s green building business to a trillion-dollar industry.  This green industry has caused a corresponding gain in the scope and dimensions of the green construction materials market, which is predicted to reach $234 billion by 2019.

About the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)

CaGBC is the preeminent national organization dedicated to advancing sustainable community development practices and green building. As the voice of green building in Canada, we work closely with our national and chapter members to make every building greener. The CaGBC overcomes environmental influences from the developed environment through advocacy, project certification, and research, and has helped to meet the need for workers by providing building education to over 30,000 professionals throughout the nation since 2002.

CaGBC founded the LEED green building rating system in Canada and produced the first Zero Carbon Building Standard of the country in 2017. It also manages the Canada Coalition for Green Schools, and it is a part of the World Green Building Council supporting efforts to reduce environmental impacts from the built environment.

Building Lasting Change, The CaGBC conference, change, will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, May 28- 30, 2019. The symposium will host the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) Congress this year.

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