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Seminar helps navigate prominent green building systems

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by Jessica Patterson last update:Oct 17, 2014

Contractors, designers and engineers can learn more about green building certification at a Buildex Calgary seminar Green Building Certification: A Review of the Systems, the Way to Maximize Benefits and the 101 Most Common Mistakes.
Seminar helps navigate prominent green building systems


Matt Grace, the president of Mission Green Buildings is the presenter.

“The first step of any building project is choosing the right certification system,” said Grace, who is also an independent, collaborative sustainability consultant with 18 years of experience in the green building industry.

“That’s the biggest mistake a lot of people make. They don’t take time to search and see which is the best fit for their project.”

Another mistake is choosing their system too late.

This is something Grace will address in his seminar.

“Projects suffer because they’ve left the green building certification far too late,” he said.

“At the last moment, you want to change the windows, guess what it’s going to cost you?”

Green building or sustainable building certification includes programs like BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BOMA Best, Living Building Challenge, Green Globes, CEEQUAL, BuiltGreen and ASHRAE Standard 189.1.

Grace’s seminar will review these certifications and help attendees understand the common principles of each.

Failing to understand the basic principles of these systems can lead to cost overruns and frustration, Grace said.

“My seminar will teach attendees to get the most benefits out of the process for the least effort,” he added

BREEAM, for example, was one of the first green building certifications. It was established in 1990 in the U.K. and measures sustainability of buildings including offices, courts, educational and institutional buildings.

Since then, BREEAM has grown and continues to be used across Europe and exported in various forms across the world.

The BREEAM equivalent in North America is LEED.

It was created in 1998 and is one of the most popular green building certification systems in Canada.

“With LEED’s rating system, rather than using it as a rule book, people should use it as an agenda to structure your green building processes,” Grace said.

“If you just follow the rules verbatim, you’re going to end up with some weird decisions. If you understand what each credit is trying to tell you, and you incorporate that and understand why you’re doing it, it’s a very powerful tool.”

Most green building rating systems take the baseline of status quo and they’re looking for an improvement on that, Grace explained.

The Living Building Challenge, which Grace also covers in detail in his seminar, is different.

“The Living Building Challenge takes a much more direct approach,” he said.

“For example, rather than reduce the amount of pollution against our industry standards, the Living Building Challenge says zero pollution, regenerate and make a positive contribution to the environment.”

The challenge is more of a mindset change, than a rating system.

“None of the barriers are really technical,” Grace said, “It’s mainly a change in attitude.”

Green Globes, another certification system, came out of BREEAM, and follows a lot of the same categories as LEED. However, it has a different mindset, Grace explained.

“It tends to be much more flexible, in that you have a 1,000 point system and can fine tune things more,” he said.

With Green Globes and the BuiltGreen HD certification system, companies work with a verifier during the building process.

“It’s more like a continuous assessment to push the impetus on the people on the ground, rather than a third party assessment at the end (like LEED),” Grace said.

“Whichever rating system you use for your project, you should make sure you are using the most appropriate framework, apply it early and with clear expectations and it will become a pleasure rather than a burden.”

Seminar W06 - Green Building Certification: A Review of the Systems, the Way to Maximize Benefits and the 101 Most Common Mistake takes place Wednesday, Nov. 7, starting at 8:30 a.m.

last update:Oct 17, 2014

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