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BLOG: LEED Panel at VRCA Construction Learning Forum

Successful LEED projects were the focus of the LEED panel at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s Construction Learning Forum in Whistler, B.C. on June 1.

Successful LEED projects were the focus of the LEED panel at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association's Construction Learning Forum in Whistler, B.C. on June 1.

Curtis Dorosh of the Light House Sustainable Building Centre, Dustin Hall of Preview Builders International, and Phillipe Gesret of Bouygues Construction made up the panel, with Scholastica Lee of Bouygues Construction moderating the discussion.

Dorosh said that the BC Building Code is focused on reducing buildings energy and water use, and the December 2013 code changes will be 30 per cent more stringent than ASHRAE 2007, which he said is already quite strict on energy use.

Most municipalities in the Vancouver area also require LEED or equivalent for civic buildings as well as rezonings.

A green building (GB) project requires tighter controls on specifications, more documentation, scheduling of material delivery, erosion and decontamination control, and more orientation and training.

Stringent waste management including letters from an accepting facility are also required.

More time is needed for close-out, commissioning and hand over, and there is more emphasis on tidiness and dust control. Site signage requirements are also strict.

Gesret is working on two different projects, and he said one of the keys to green building is having one person in charge from beginning to end of the project. With clear specifications and an understanding of requirements, everything else will fall into place.

As it stands, the LEED coordinator can often be dealing with paperwork, rather than having a more holistic view of the project.

Lee asked if issues tended to recur with LEED projects, and Hall said the biggest roadblock was an apprehension and lack of understanding of the LEED process. However, he added that most trades and suppliers are much more knowledgeable about LEED than in previous years.

Gesret described the crunch time involved in the “flush out” process that decontaminates a site near completion. The process can take two weeks or more to make sure the indoor air quality is at a sufficient standard.

There are two ways to get the credit; one is to perform a flush out, and the other is to run five different air quality tests.

One problem Lee pointed to is “green washing,” where suppliers say their materials are to green specs but turn out to not measure up. The panel said they’ve never run into that problem, but that stringent review of specifications is a critical part of the GB process.

Dorosh said that in future, he could see green staying as a process, but not necessarily LEED. Similar standards will be adhered to, along with strict energy standards. So while private projects may not be “LEED” they will likely be equivalent.

Lee pointed to keeping track of standards as a possible stumbling block, and Dorosh reiterated the need for one person to own the LEED role on a project to make sure proper standards are being followed.

Is LEED certification worth the extra effort when the owner is not interested? Gesret said LEED is fundamentally the owner’s decision, and if the owner doesn’t want it there’s nothing you can do about it.

The panel also pointed out that there is a payback from LEED, but it’s long-term.


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