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There are several commercial building-related green certification programs, with each having its own method of approaching sustainability. The bulk of these programs start by talking about energy, though they don’t all discuss energy the same way, and then they add meaningful other ideas like water, air quality, material choices, durability… the sky’s the limit. Below is an overview of Canada’s most respected commercial building programs (for residential programs, visit our Sustainable Housing Programs page):



BOMA BESt (Building Environmental Standards)bomabest_logo

Owner: Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada

Launched: 2005

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: Provides best practice standards for energy and environmental performance of existing buildings, addressing the following six areas:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Waste Reduction and Site
  4. Emissions and Effluents
  5. Indoor Environment
  6. Environmental Management System

Eligible Buildings: Existing (> 1 year old) offices, shopping centres, open air retail plazas, light industrial buildings, and multi-unit residential buildings

Certification: Four certification levels (Level 1, 2, 3 & 4), assessed by a third party-independent verifier.



ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager™estar-pm

Owner: Natural Resources Canada – Office of Energy Efficiency

Launched: 2013 in Canada (2000 in the U.S.)

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: Interactive energy management tool for tracking and assessing energy and water consumption in existing buildings.  Capabilities include generating weather normalized and non-weather normalized energy use intensity values, greenhouse gas emission metrics, and % energy performance scores.

Eligible Buildings: Existing (> 1 year old) commercial office space, K-12 schools (hospitals to be available by 2014-2015).

Certification: Energy performance is rated on a scale of 1 to 100.  A rating of 75 indicates that a  building is 75% more energy efficient than a similar building type in Canada, with factors such as weather, geographic location, building attributes and operating characteristics accounted for.


Green Seal – High DensityPrint

Owner: Built Green Canada

Launched: 2003

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: A national, industry-driven organization committed to working with builders interested in responsible sustainability practices in the residential building sector. The organization offers programs for single family, high density, and renovation projects with a communities program under development. Built Green Canada offers its programs across the country; however, in Ontario, the programs are referred to as “Green Seal”. The categories include:

  • Energy and Envelope
  • Materials and Methods
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Ventilation
  • Waste Management
  • Water Management
  • Business Practice

Eligible Buildings: new construction of multi-storey buildings and residential towers.

Certification: Four certification levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) awarded upon successful completion of third-party verification process.


Green Globes™Green_Globes_Logo

Owner: ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd.

Launched: 2004

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: Guide and assessment protocol for integrating green design principles into new commercial buildings.  An online questionnaire-based approach is used to generate a report, a rating, a list of achievements, as well as recommendations related to the building environmental performance in the following areas:

  1. Project Management
  2. Site
  3. Energy
  4. Water
  5. Resources
  6. Emissions
  7. Effluents & Other Impactes
  8. Indoor Environment

Eligible Buildings: New construction and major retrofits of commercial buildings.

Certification: Five certification levels (Green Globe Ratings, percentile) are available.  Certification requires the successful completion of a third-party verification process.



LEED® Canada (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)img_LEED-Can_logo

Owner: Canadian Green Building Council

Launched: 2002

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: A collective group of rating system for various building types which recognize building performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:

  1. Sustainable Site Development
  2. Water Efficiency
  3. Energy Efficiency
  4. Materials Selection
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality

Eligible Buildings: LEED offers the following distinct rating systems for various buildings types:   

  • New Construction & Major Renovations
    • New offices, institutional buildings (K-12 schools, libraries, museums, churches, etc.) hotels, condo towers, retail, etc.
  • Core & Shell Development
    • New commercial building (office, medical office, retail center, warehouse, lab facility) where the developer controls the design and construction of the entire core and shell base building (e.g. mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems) but has no control over the design and construction of the tenant fit-out.
  • Operations & Maintenance
    • Existing commercial and institutional buildings, e.g. offices, retail and service establishments, institutional buildings (libraries, schools, museums, churches, etc), hotels, and condo towers.
  • Commercial Interiors
    • Tenant improvements of new or existing office space.
  • Neighborhood Development
    • Large (≥50 unit) residential or mixed residential commercial developments.
  • Homes
    • Single-family and multi-family residential buildings, ≤ 9 stories.

Certification: Four certification levels (Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum), awarded upon successful completion of third-party verification process.



Living Building Challengelogo_lbc

Owner: International Living Future Institute™.

Launched: 2006

Coverage: National (Canada)

Description: Evaluates and certifies buildings based on seven performance areas (petals):

  1. Site
  2. Water
  3. Energy
  4. Health
  5. Materials
  6. Equity
  7. Beauty

Widely regarded as the most aggressive environmental building performance standard, and includes requirements such as 100% water collection and site processing, net zero energy, stringent RED list materials avoidances, and others.

Eligible Buildings: New construction and renovation of existing buildings.

Certification: Three certification levels (Full Certification, Petal Recognition or Net Zero Energy Building Certification) are available upon successful completion of a third-party verification process.


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