Thursday, May 18, 2006

Developers catch 'green' building fever

LEED applications rise steadily since program began
By David Hatton - Ontario - Business Edge

The number of real estate developers applying to have their projects certified as meeting environmentally friendly green standards has almost doubled over the past 11 months as they scramble to keep up with public demand.

When the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) launched its LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certification process in April 2005, it started with 112 applications from across the country, says LEED program manager Ian Theaker. Those applications have been climbing ever since and reached 223 this past March.

"There's an immense pent-up demand for green buildings right now," he says. "But the frustrating thing is you still have speculators out there who want an immediate two- or three-year return on their investment. Your biggest return is with the building operators later on down the road, because they save on substantially lower operating costs. That's where the real money is."

LEED Canada is based on a similar model that started in the United States and uses a points system to rate projects in five different categories: Sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor air quality. When points are added up, projects are awarded certified, silver, gold or platinum status.