Taking the LEED in Sustainable Condo Living

Author : mark01
Publish Date : 2021-09-27 17:50:37
Taking the LEED in Sustainable Condo Living

There’s a sea change in progress. Hot on the heels of the summer of 2021 – a season that will be remembered for its intense heat and smoky skies – Alberta condo owners across the province are looking for ways to curb their carbon footprint, go green, and live more sustainably.

In particular, LEED certification is transforming how condo buildings built, maintained, and repaired, resulting in long-term cost savings and smaller carbon footprint advantages that do right by owners – and their wallets, too. Read on to learn more.

LEEDing the Way with Five Key Thoughts and Questions

What, Exactly, is LEED?

As an internationally-recognized green building certification system, LEED simply means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, this certification program grades the energy conservation, water usage, air quality, and building materials of a property.

There are four levels of certification a building can have: LEED Certified (40-49 credits), Silver LEED (50-59 credits), Gold LEED (60-79 credits) and Platinum LEED (80+ credits). In fact, LEED has proven to be so effective that the City of Calgary has adopted a policy where all new buildings (or renovation plans needing approval) MUST meet or exceed a silver LEED rating.

In addition to offering a more sustainable, efficient approach to living, there are other benefits that come along with having your condo LEED-certified – some of which include your property retaining a higher value and being able to access special tax rebate incentives. Not too shabby for a few simple efficiency-minded upgrades around the condo!

Does LEED Certification Actually Mean Lower Operating Costs?

In a word: yes! Adopting LEED-certified standards can have an enormously positive impact on operating costs – particularly when considered from a utility-spending perspective. In fact, LEED-certified buildings have the potential to save your condo community approximately 25% of monthly energy and water costs compared to specifications that simply meet minimum building requirements.

This doesn’t just reduce the strain on common resources throughout the building, either (think hot water, electricity, etc.). LEED-certified technologies and building standards can actually yield even more fiscal benefits following their implementation – less power is consumed for heat during cold snaps, for example, due to both more efficient mechanical systems, and better insulation, exterior seals, and windows that help to keep the heat in and the cold out. Talk about a win-win!

How Big of an Environmental Impact Does LEED Certification Make, Really?

LEED certification goes beyond just the much-touted “carbon footprint” that we so often hear about when it comes to discussions around sustainability and environmental-friendliness. Yes, LEED-certified buildings do of course come part-and-parcel with a reduced annual carbon output – but it’s more than that. LEED-certified condos use less water and consume less energy overall (both because they use less energy and they also lose less energy, as we’d touched upon in our previous point).

The energy they do consume is oftentimes renewable, or partially renewable to offset both energy usage and cost (ie: rooftop solar panels might be used to either heat boilers, for example, or feed energy back into the grid for savings on utilities building-wide). All of this adds up to a more sustainable, energy efficient building – and long-term savings for you and your condo corporation as a result.

What About Residents’ Quality of Life?

When people hear “sustainable” or “energy-efficient,” they often assume it comes along with caveats and a degraded quality of life. Sure, that fancy new lightbulb might last forever and use less electricity, but only if you’re alright with a pale, awful glow that could barely illuminate the inside of a cupboard!

Well, we’re here to tell you that this isn’t the case anymore. Energy-efficient technology has come a long way since the early days of compact fluorescent lightbulbs, with innovations spanning all forms of energy use and consumption that nowadays tend to range from barely-noticeable to not-noticeable-at-all.

 In fact, some forms of efficient technology will now even work to improve your condo community’s quality of life – including LEED-approved ventilation and air filtration systems that can work to lower the spread of airborne communicable respiratory diseases, helping to keep residents safe and provide peace of mind throughout your building or complex.

Alright, I’m Convinced – But Where Do We Start?

Of course, a primary concern for residents and condo boards looking to make their building more energy efficient is their budget. While there are plenty of long-term benefits from both an economic and environmental aspect, the truth is that you have a building budget to consider today. Overhauling your entire condo building to become LEED certified might be quite cost prohibitive. However, both provincial and federal governments have developed initiatives for buildings to more easily begin moving towards their LEED certification.

Your building can start small. For instance, looking into the type of light bulbs you use to light common areas can highlight if you’re using bulbs that aren’t energy efficient. By changing the type of bulbs you have in the common areas, you’ll be able to lower the overall energy cost for your building, resulting in cost savings within the first month or two of implementation.

Think of what other small improvements your building can make to start on your LEED certification journey. Small items can include:

  • Windows. What types of windows do your residents have, both in their individual condos, and those in the main areas?
  • Water efficiency. What type of drainage system does your building have? OR, even smaller, if you have a water fountain in a common area, is this a low-flow fountain?
  • Paint. What type of paint is your building using? Is it low VOC, meaning there are less harmful fumes going into your air?

While these are seemingly small changes your building can make, even if budgets are tight, they can have a great impact on the overall health and value of your building.

Are you looking to bring LEED certification to your new or existing condo building? Keen to increase the efficiency and sustainability of your condo community? Contact us at Catalyst Condo Management directly – we’re here to answer any questions you might have!

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