LEED Design, Construction, and Sustainability – Energy Rating In Canada

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I’ve asked a few REALTORS® their thoughts on this “green movement” and most did not know how it works in Canada. See below!

In Canada, an energy efficiency label has become a recognizable symbol of products that meet or exceed rigorous guidelines. Consumer confidence in products that bear the title have proven overtime that the trend to go green is here to stay.

LEED CANADA

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is designed on a point system certifying development projects predominately for commercial real estate in Canada. It is a 100 base point system; with six possible Innovation in Design and four Regional Priority points. Rankings start with Certified with 40-49 points to Platinum at 80 points and above.

Each credit is allocated points based on the relative importance of the building-related impacts that it addresses. The result is a weighted average that combines building impacts and the relative value of the impact categories. Credits that most directly address the most important impacts are given the greatest weight, subject to the system design parameters described above. Credit weights also reflect a decision by LEED to recognize the market implications of point allocation (CAGBC, 2014).

LEED 2000 was replaced by ENERGY STAR for residential homes in late 2005 in Canada.

ENERGY STAR

Typically, an ENERGY STAR qualified product is in the top 15 to 30 percent of its class for energy performance, and Canada is an international partner in the U.S. ENERGY STAR program. Typical features of an ENERGY STAR home include: efficient heating and cooling systems that use less energy, reduced indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of your home. High-performance ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylights keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer along with walls and ceilings insulated beyond what is required by the building code and a variety of ENERGY STAR products which use less electricity by meeting strict technical specifications, and a heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV or ERV) ensures your home has controlled ventilation (NRC, 2014). With such designation it eliminates the question surrounding ‘which product is efficient’ and provides an easy way for consumers to make informed decisions on their purchases.

HERS Rating

Currently HERS rating is not used in Canada, but it is recognized worldwide and is relatively easy to understand. The HERS chart is visually appealing and demonstrates well the range of efficiency with the lowest being ‘more energy’ and the highest ‘less energy.’ With this information, homeowners can assess where to make changes and provide an accurate utility bill projection. To calculate a home’s HERS Index Score, a certified RESNET HERS Rater does an energy rating on your home and compares the data against a ‘reference home’– a designed-model home of the same size and shape as the actual home, so your score is always relative to the size, shape, and type of house you live in.

A home with a HERS Index Score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient and a score of 130 is 30% less energy efficient than the RESNET Reference home (HERES Index, 2014).

COMPARISON

There are pros and cons for energy rating systems and one system over another is dependent on individual assessment. LEED, ENERGY STAR, and HERS each are recognized in the U.S. and Canada as international symbols for efficiency. The difference lies in the application of each system and the overall impression end consumers have. I believe ENERGY STAR is the best efficiency rating system overall because it’s a trusted symbol/consumer icon and standard of premium energy efficiency in many product categories including homes, and is the mark for high energy efficient performance (NRC, 2014). Although each rating system does offer alternatives to saving energy through product purchases or ‘how to’ uses, ENERGY STAR stands as a hallmark for consumers and has the respect of Canadian’s looking to reduce, save, and sustain the earth.
Ironically enough, in the past purchasers were made without consideration to the environment or the harmful effects consumption has on the earth. Today, going green is more than just a thought, the government has stepped in and has supported these initiatives to ensure we are protecting the earth and reducing the environmental impact humans have.

References
Welcome. Energy Star homes. Retrieved from http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/energystar/12519
Welcome. LEED Canada for new construction and major renovation 2009. Retrieved from http://www.cagbc.org/AM/PDF/LEED_Canada_NC_CS_2009_Rating_System-En-Jun2010.pdf
Welcome. HERS Index. Retrieved from http://www.hersindex.com/understanding

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