DAILY NEWS Jul 26, 2012 10:02 AM - 0 comments

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Back on track

LEED Canada certification backlog eliminated

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By: Andrew Snook
OTTAWA 2012-07-26

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada’s certification process experienced a significant backlog in 2010, but since that time the CaGBC have implemented a variety of initiatives to get the process back on track.

“I’m happy to say there isn’t a heavy backlog right now,” said Mark Hutchinson, director of green building programs for the CaGBC. “Unfortunately, we did have a backlog that came about in 2010.”

He said the backlog could be attributed to two things – the launching of the new rating system and changes to the price structure for LEED certification, which generated an unexpected rush of projects.

“We ended up with about nine months worth of projects coming in one month,” he explained. “By the end of 2010 we had about an eight, nine month delay for the worst of the projects.”

The CaGBC focused on addressing the backlog in 2011 – and with a few exceptions, were able to catch up.

Hutchinson said his organization’s capacity for LEED Canada for existing buildings was still being built up in 2011, so there were some delays in certifying those projects. He also cited some delays in French projects, due to a limited number of internal people and consultants available to certify those projects.

To counter those backlogs, the CaGBC initiated several changes, including hiring more staff and doubling the number of consultants available to review files.

At present time, almost all backlogs for both French projects and for LEED Canada for existing buildings have been eliminated.

Backlogs for LEED Canada certification for new buildings were also addressed for the majority of Canadian companies by the end of 2011.

“That means that if a new project comes in, we aim to start the work on that project within five business days and we’ve been doing that,” Hutchinson said.

In the first five months of 2012, the organization has been able to complete nearly 400 reviews and certify about 100 projects.

The number of building owners committed to LEED continues to grow, with

LEED for existing buildings experiencing a strong commitment from some of the largest landlords; and LEED for new construction continuing to do well, according to Hutchinson.

Another program doing well is LEED Canada for Homes.

“We’ve got over 2,000 homes registered today under that program,” Hutchinson said.

New options for speeding up certification process

At the end of July, the CaGBC will be launching two new options available in the marketplace that will apply to different projects.

The first one applies to older projects that registered under LEED Canada for new construction (LEED Canada NC v1.0).

It involves providing more materials up front that demonstrate what has been done, eliminating one round of review – certification is complete in two rounds of review instead of three.

The second option is for some of the newer projects seeking certification – those registered under LEED Canada for New Construction 2009, which already has a certification process that is completed in two stages.

A split review will be introduced, allowing reviews for design work and construction work to be performed at different times.

One of the advantages of the split review is that it will allow for the design aspects to be reviewed while the design team is still involved with the project. Currently, the certification process takes place after construction, at which point the design team has often moved on to other projects; or members of the team have changed roles or companies. This leads to delays in the certification process when the CaGBC and the consultants try and go back to the original design team to ask questions.

Another advantage of the split review is its role in risk mitigation. It allows the project team and building owner to get a strong sense of how the project is moving along after the design phase, before construction is complete.
With the CaGBC’s backlog almost completely gone and new, faster certification options starting up at the end of the month, Hutchinson said these are exciting times for the LEED program.

“There’s a lot to be done, but we’re very happy with the continued uptake in LEED and we’re committed to making sure that it’s everything that it can be for those who are participating in the program.”

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