Case Studies – Buildings

Large Developments: UniverCity Development, Simon Fraser University A 160-acre neighborhood that will accommodate 10,000 residents is being built atop Burnaby Mountain. The overall guiding theme for the development is the 4 E’s: environment, education, equity and economy. The project demonstrates some interesting examples of engineers and geoscientists working to incorporate sustainability ideas into the development’s design. Southeast False Creek, City of Vancouver SEFC An 80-acre former industrial site near downtown Vancouver, the City is planning to build a complete sustainable community, one component of which will likely be the requirement that all buildings meet a minimum LEEDTM standard. The East Clayton Headwaters Project East Clayton Headwaters Project In January 1999, Surrey’s Department of Planning and Development entered into a partnership agreement with UBC’s James Taylor Chair, the Pacific Resources Centre, and a multi-constituent advisory committee involving various levels of government to create the Headwaters Project. A key component of this project is the integrated design process, which is described on the James Taylor website. Buildings: Doors to Sustainability 2001 and Sustainability 2003 Exhibitions on-line catalogue The Doors 2001 Exhibition consisted of 32 sustainability case studies from architects, professional engineers & geoscientists, landscape architects, and interior designers. The exhibition was organized by APEGBC and AIBC with help from the GVRD and Litchfield – a demolition and recycling company. A 2-page summary from each exhibitor is available on the APEGBC Sustainability website – web link above. The Sustainability 2003 Exhibit is expected to begin touring in the fall of 2003. BC Building Corporation’s Green Building Case Studies BCBC’s website contains a list of approximately 17 case studies for both new and retrofit buildings. New Buildings Retrofits Better Buildings The GVRD’s Better Buildings website also contains case studies. The Vancouver Island Technology Park vitp The first LEEDTM Version 2.0 Gold building in Canada! CK Choi Building Ck Choi Completed in 1996 and still considered to be one of the best examples of green building design in Canada and North America, the CK Choi Building at UBC is impressive in many respects. A few notable achievements: no connection to the sewer system, 100% reused brick cladding, 65% reused big timber for structural components, and 7000 gallon rain cistern for collecting rainwater. Cranberry Commons Co-housing Project article The Cranberry Commons Co-Housing development in North Burnaby incorporated several sustainable design features on a limited budget. The article linked above describes the design features of this development.
source: Primer Part 3c: Buildings See also XlnkS58F

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LEED Frequently Asked Questions

How does LEEDTM work? LEEDTM measures and ranks a building’s environmental performance in terms of 6 general categories: – Sustainable Sites, – Water Efficiency, – Energy & Atmosphere, – Materials & Resources, – Indoor Environmental Quality, and – Innovation & Design. Points are awarded for achieving specific goals clearly outlined in each category. The total number of points possible is 69. A score of 26-32 points achieves basic certification; 33-38 achieves Silver; 39 – 51 Gold; and 52+ achieves Platinum certification. How is a building certified? At the moment, official LEEDTM certification is organized through the USGBC. The USGBC LEEDTM website ( provides a summary of the three steps to certification. The CaGBC will eventually take over certification of Canadian projects, but is still in the early stages of organization. Any certification earned under the USGBC until that point will be honoured by the CaGBC. Is LEEDTM mandatory? NO. LEEDTM is a voluntary building assessment tool. Some jurisdictions like the City of Seattle; however, have adopted a minimum LEEDTM standard for all new public buildings as a matter of policy. The City of Vancouver is currently considering the merits of adopting a minimum LEEDTM standard for all new public buildings, and is currently piloting its new Vancouver City Works Yard as either LEEDTM Silver or Gold. The City of Calgary is also moving toward requiring a minimum of LEEDTM Silver for all new public buildings. Does LEEDTM cost more? The answer to this will come over time as more case studies are documented. The USGBC took a first stab at the question by issuing a memo in August 2001 summarizing a number of case studies. In general, they found initial capital costs to be 1-4% higher than conventional buildings while long-term costs were “significantly lower”. However, many professionals are now finding that initial costs can even be lower than for conventional buildings as professionals become more comfortable to the technology and process. What types of buildings is LEEDTM most applicable to? LEEDTM is most applicable to existing and new commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings. The underlying concepts embodying the LEEDTM process are also very relevant and useful for smaller residential building design. Draft guidelines for Existing Buildings are now available on the USGBC website. Some benefits of LEEDTM – Simplicity–final results are summarized on a one-page ‘scorecard’; – Not overly prescriptive – room for interpretation; – Potentially significant long-term cost benefits; – Modifiable – can be modified to local conditions & regulations; – Marketable – as it becomes more popular, consumers will begin to recognize the LEEDTM label as a measure of environmental performance.
source: Primer Part 3c: Buildings See also XlnkS58F

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The Context

In order to appreciate what can be accomplished in the building industry, it is useful to first understand the state of resource use and greenhouse gas production in Canada and where buildings fit into this larger picture. Key findings of a report that compares Canada to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations in terms of a number of general indicators are presented below. Energy Consumption Canada ranks 27th out of 29 OECD nations for per capita energy use, at 6.19 tonnes of oil equivalent per capita. This is almost double the OECD average of 3.18 and five times the world average. Total energy consumption grew by 20.3% between 1980 and 1997. Energy Efficiency Canada ranks 28th out of 29 in terms of energy efficiency. We use 0.30 tonnes of oil equivalent to generate $1000US of GDP. This is almost double the OECD average. Canada is 33% less efficient than even the US. Greenhouse Gas Production Canada ranks 27th out of 29 nations for its production of CO2, the most dominant of the greenhouse gases. We produce 16.84 tonnes of CO2 per capita. This is 48% above the OECD average and four times the global average. In terms of total CO2 production, only four nations produce more: the US, Japan, Germany, UK. Water Consumption Canada ranks 28th out of 29 nations for its per capita water consumption, at 1600m3 per capita. This is 65% above the OECD average, and represents an overall increase of 25.7% since 1980. Overall increases within the OECD average 4.5%, although several nations actually decreased their overall water consumption, including the US, UK, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The Building Industry So what do all these statistics have to do with buildings specifically? According to the ATHENA Sustainable Materials Institute as much as 40% of the raw materials and energy produced in the world are used in the building sector. Canada’s energy efficiency, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions records are therefore significantly affected by the building industry. In addition, 30% of newly-built or -renovated buildings suffer from “sick building syndrome, exposing occupants to stale or mold- and chemical-laden air. The Government of Canada’s Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change identifies buildings as a key sector for moving Canada toward meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets. It specifically targets the heating of buildings, which accounts for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Furthermore, Canada’s building industry statistics are similar to the US, where commercial and residential buildings account for 65% of the nation’s total electricity consumption , 36% of the total primary energy used , 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions , 12% of potable water consumption , and the production of 136 Million tonnes of construction and demolition waste per day (approximately 2.8lbs/person/day) . It is clear that buildings have a significant impact on resource use. There are correspondingly significant- and in many cases, easy and inexpensive- gains that can be made in the design and operation of buildings that will not only improve their energy and resource efficiency, but also worker comfort and productivity, environmental impact, and even corporate image.
source: Primer Part 3c: Buildings See also XlnkS58F

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Presentation: Opportunities for Sustainable Transportation by Richard Drdul

Richard Drdul, PEng, PTOE, Community Transportation Planning Consultant, prepared this presentation for the 2002 APEGBC AGM, but due to plane-grounding fog, did not present it until the Municipal Engineers Division professional development seminar on Sustainability in Transportation held in Richmond BC in April 2003. The presentation gives an overview of simple, inexpensive transportation solutions that can be implemented today. It can be downloaded through the link below. For more information, Richard can be contacted at the email address on the sidebar.
document: RDrdul- Sustainable Transportationin detail XlnkS590

Primer Part 3c: Buildings

Sustainability Primer Part 3c: Buildings The Primer’s purpose is to act as an initial step in raising knowledge of sustainability, and to function as a simple, readily accessible resource on sustainability for engineers and geoscientists. This module explores practical ways to apply the sustainability principles within the building industry.
document: Primer Part 3: Buildingsin detail XlnkS58F

Ecosystem Wellbeing Index (EWI)

The EWI is an broad measure of the state of the environment, with a fuller and more systematic treatment of national environmental conditions than other global indices such as the Ecological Footprint and the Environmental Sustainability Index. It is the average of:

  • Land. How well a country conserves the diversity of its natural land ecosystems and maintains the quality of the ecosystems that it develops.
  • Water. River conversion by dams. The water quality of drainage basins. Water withdrawal as a percentage of the national supply from precipitation. Inadequate data prevented coverage of the sea.
  • Water Air. Emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances to the global atmosphere . City air quality.
  • Water Species and genes. How well a country conserves its wild species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and higher plants, and the variety of its domesticated livestock breeds .
  • Water Resource use. How much energy a country consumes. The demands its agriculture, fishing, and timber sectors place on resources.

source: Wellbeing of Nations MethodologyCross-Ref: IUCN – World Conservation Union See also XlnkS58E

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Human Wellbeing Index (HWI)

The HWI is a more realistic measure of socioeconomic conditions than narrowly monetary indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product and covers more aspects of human wellbeing than the United Nations’ Human Development Index. It is the average of:

  • Health and population. How long people may expect to live in good health. The stability of family size.
  • Wealth. How well needs are met for income, food, safe water, and sanitation. The size and condition of the national economy, including inflation, unemployment, and the debt burden.
  • Knowledge and culture. Education (primary, secondary, and tertiary school enrollment rates) and communication (accessibility and reliability of the telephone system and use of the Internet). Lack of a suitable indicator prevented coverage of culture.
  • Community. Freedom and governance (political rights, civil liberties, press freedom, and corruption). Peacefulness (military expenditure and deaths from armed conflicts and terrorism). Violent crime rates.
  • Equity. Household equity: the difference in income share between the richest and poorest fifths of the population. Gender equity: disparities between males and females in income, education, and parliamentary decision-making.

source: Wellbeing of Nations MethodologyCross-Ref: IUCN – World Conservation Union See also XlnkS58E

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Facts about sustainability

  • Half the world – nearly three billion people – live on less than two US dollars a day.
  • Four billion people live in countries with a poor or bad level of human development.
  • 20% of the world population does not have access to safe drinking water.
  • 50% of the world population does not have sanitation.
  • The world population has tripled since the beginning of the 20th century, and is expected to reach the benchmark of 10 billion people by the year 2080.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st centur y unable to read a book or sign their names.
  • At least 7 inter -state armed conflicts of the past century were over shared freshwater resources.
  • An average citizen in the USA uses 600 litres of water per day against a Jordanian’s daily consumption of 85 litres.
  • 28 million Africans were facing severe food shortages in the year 2000.
  • Global military expenditure in 2000 was US$804 billion, against US$53.1 billion of total official development aid (ODA) in the same year.
  • 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures.
  • Sweden is closest to achieving sustainable development, according to the 2001 ‘Wellbeing of Nations’ assessment.

source: IUCN – World Conservation Union See also XlnkS58B
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Wellbeing of Nations Methodology

The Wellbeing of Nations surveys 180 countries and is the first global assessment of sustainability. It is intended to promote high levels of human and ecosystem wellbeing, demonstrate the practicality and potential of the Wellbeing Assessment method, and encourage countries, communities, and corporations to undertake their own wellbeing assessments. Wellbeing Assessment Wellbeing Assessment is a method of assessing sustainability that gives people and the ecosystem equal weight and provides a systematic and transparent way of: • deciding the main features of human and ecosystem wellbeing to be measured; • choosing the most representative indicators of those features
from: IUCN – World Conservation Uniondocument: Wellbeing of nations Backgroundin detailsee also: IUCN – World Conservation Union XlnkS58E XlnkC189D