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Building Green in BC: LEED and REAP

With the surge in everything environmental these days, it is only natural that real estate builders and developers would begin to take notice and start a move towards “greening the market.” This move has taken many forms, but perhaps the most noticeable is the recognition of green building systems, such as LEED and REAP.


The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed initially by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGCB) and adopted by the Canada Green Building Council, has become an internationally recognized system of classification for developers, builders, and buyers. It sets strict environmental criteria, and awards status based on how well the building meets those criteria. (Certified status is awarded to buildings that meet LEED’s standards; Silver, Gold, or Platinum status is given to projects that exceed those basic criteria.)

LEED was developed to identify and certify five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The USGCB explains that this model allows projects which are LEED-certified to “have reduced operating costs, healthier and more productive occupants, and conserve our natural resources.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, BC is on the forefront of the green building movement. The University of British Columbia (UBC) has initiated its own environmentally friendly building system, based on the LEED program: the Residential Environmental Assessment Program (REAP). UBC established REAP to “encourage and measure sustainable building practices for market-based and staff/faculty/student residential development at UBC.” All new buildings that go up around the campus will have to participate in the system, reaching at least certified status.

REAP, however, extends further than just campus-used buildings. It is also being applied to new developments around Vancouver. One such development is Crescent West, an executive townhome development project going up at UBC. Crescent West is aiming for a Silver REAP designation, which means that they must not only meet the basic REAP criteria, but surpass it.

For silver status a development must receive between 110 and 139 points on the REAP scale (the scale goes from Basic Compliance, to Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). Each project is allocated points based on 13 specific criteria, with the maximum possible being 200. In order to receive basic compliance, a project must receive at least 66 points.

Crescent West is hoping to reach Silver designation by incorporating many innovative design and construction concepts, including saving at least 40 percent more water, reducing construction waste destined for the landfill by more than 75 percent, and carefully selecting the material that goes into each home, to reduce the amount of harmful emissions from things like paint, adhesives, or carpets. The project will build 24 luxury townhomes, and is being developed by the Redekop Group.

Projects which follow REAP or LEED are sprouting up all over BC, especially in Vancouver and Victoria: 26 LEED rated buildings are located in the province (nearly half the total number in all of Canada). The Vancouver Island Technology Park in Victoria has received a Gold rating, as has the City of Vancouver National Avenue Works Yard, the BC Cancer Research Centre, the Vancouver Port Authority Offices (all in Vancouver), and the UVic Medical Sciences Building (in Victoria). The effect does reach outside those major cities, however: The Kamloops Centre for Water Quality has also attained Gold status.

A new development in Victoria is trying to surpass all those buildings, however. The Dockside Green, a mixed residential and commercial building under development in the west side of Victoria, is hoping to surpass the criteria needed to achieve Platinum certification (the highest level possible). Only ten buildings worldwide have been recognized with Platinum status. The Dockside Green is being developed thanks to a request by the City of Victoria in 2004. Windmill Development Group won the bid, and, in conjunction with VanCity, broke ground on the initial phase in 2006.

More environmentally forward developments are under works all over the province – take a look at what might be showing up in your neck of the woods! For more information on Crescent West, visit www.cannewhomes.com/development_info/578/; to find out more about Dockside Green, click on www.docksidegreen.com. For info on REAP and LEEDS, go to www.planning.ubc.ca/corebus/reap.html or www.cagbc.org.


By Laura Neufeld


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