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Green building rating systems could become more stringent, Lim says

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by Dan O’reilly

Green building rating systems will continue to evolve and become even more stringent in their ratings, the vice president of energy and sustainability for real estate portfolio manager BLJC told contractors and project managers in Toronto recently.

Canadian Institute Construction Superconference

Green building rating systems will continue to evolve and become even more stringent in their ratings, the vice president of energy and sustainability for real estate portfolio manager BLJC told contractors and project managers in Toronto recently.

“The Platinum 2005 building probably doesn’t hold the same regard as the 2008 building,” said Edward Lim, a guest speaker at the Canadian Institute’s two-day Construction Superconference.

Lim’s comments were part a far-reaching presentation on how green building rating systems work and what their future will be, plus the steps required to achieve certification and the challenges in ensuring compliance.

As part of that presentation, the audience was provided with a brief summary on the factors that have driven sustainable construction.

It covered climate change, the need to reduce water and energy demand, the preservation of watersheds and efforts to minimize land erosion and flooding.

In tandem with the movement to green building has been the phenomenal growth of the U.S. and Canada Green Building Councils and the point-based LEED system.

The points contribute to credits for initiatives such as water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the section of sustainable sites.

To a certain extent, the system is fairly straightforward.

An application guide spells out the requirements for specific credits and if there is any confusion about those requirements, applicants can file a Credit Interpretation Request, said Lim.

However, achieving certification isn’t easy and can be particularly onerous the higher the rating owners and consultants want to achieve.

“It becomes a bit of a challenge if you decide you want LEED Platinum,” he said. “That takes a lot of due diligence.”

Both Lim and conference co-chair Geza Banfai, a partner with Blaney McMurtry LLP, expressed concern about the growing trend by some owners to announce their buildings will achieve a certain rating before the building has been certified.

At an earlier seminar, Banfai wondered out loud if failure to achieve the advertised rating might be grounds for legal action against any of the project partners.

But designing and constructing a green building shouldn’t be any more expensive than a comparable building, if the owners and designers commit to achieving sustainability at the start of the project.

“Maybe there might be a 10 per cent premium and that will be offset by reduced operating costs,” Lim said.

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