Market Snapshot: Commercial and Institutional Buildings in Canada becoming Greener

Release date: 2016-03-10

The energy performance of new commercial/institutional buildings in Canada has improved in the last 5 years. One indicator of this is the number of commercial and institutional buildings that obtained a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®Footnote 1) certification. This number reached 527 in 2015 compared to 142 in 2010, and brings the grand total of LEED certified projects in Canada to 2576.Footnote 2 This amount makes Canada the global leader in total LEED certified projects outside of the United States.Footnote 3

Based on specific project parameters, buildings can qualify for one of four LEED certification levels (certified, silver, gold and platinum).Footnote 4 About 95 per cent of Canadian LEED-certified buildings can be found in the six provinces listed in the graph below.

Source and Description

Source: Canada Green Building Council

Description: The stacked column chart above illustrates the number of LEED-certified commercial and institutional buildings by year and level of certification for six provinces. Columns are stacked by certification level (certified, silver, gold, and platinum). Separate columns indicate the total number of LEED-certified buildings in 2010 and 2015 in six provinces, listed in order from highest to lowest number of certifications in 2015 (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia). In each of those provinces, more buildings obtained LEED certification in 2015 than in 2010.

In recent years, changes were also made to the building code to improve energy performance. The National Energy Code of Canada for BuildingsFootnote 5 was updated in 2011 with the goal of improving average new building energy performance by 25 per cent over the previous 1997 code. As of 2015, five provinces (representing 70 per cent of new commercial/institutional building space) adopted these energy standards, and nearly all new Canadian buildings are expected to be covered by Code standards by 2017.

Proposed building codes in North America are aiming for even greater energy performance. Industry discussions are now considering “net-zero ready"Footnote 6 levels for 2030 and further energy intensity improvements of 50 per cent below 2004 levels. This supports projections, including those by the NEBFootnote 7, of ongoing improvements in commercial building energy performance.

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