COVID-19 Recovery & Return to Work Resources

Following an unprecedented global health crisis, Provinces and Territories have begun the slow process of reopening. Each region must balance the desire to restart the economy with the need to maintain social distancing best practices.

This will not be a return to the status quo. Building owners and operators will need access to trusted resources to develop the new processes needed to mitigate the risk of coronavirus.

Green buildings will have an important role to play in this new reality. They are already built with better ventilation and air quality, making green building occupants healthier and more productive. Investments in green building now can help reignite the economy while also providing healthier, more resilient places to work and live.

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Ready, set, grow: Reigniting Canada’s economy

Nearly half of all Canadian households suffered a loss of work in the wake of the pandemic. Canada is preparing for an economic recovery – and with it, increased spending and investment by the federal government.

On behalf of the industry, CaGBC has detailed how strategic investment in green building could play a significant role in re-igniting Canada’s economy, while also helping us meet our climate goals.

Read our submission to the Federal government.


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Arc & LEED essentials

CaGBC and GBCI Canada continue to support projects by providing quality certification reviews and support—even in these challenging times.

To help projects move ahead, LEED and Arc are changing – offering more flexibility, more insights, and new pilot credits that recognize the changes needed to facilitate re-entry.


Certification FAQs

At CaGBC and GBCI Canada, we are working to provide flexibility and exceptions to project teams facing challenges meeting LEED requirements as a result of COVID-19.

To help you navigate some of the challenges, we’ve made a list of the top customer service-related questions and answers related to LEED Canada, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1. Can’t find the answer you are looking for? Contact us at LEED Coach Canada. For other GBCI programs, you can find help here.

Q: We can’t provide our review resubmittal on time due to COVID-19. Can we get an extension?
A. Contact LEED Coach Canada, sharing your project number and circumstance, and we will be glad to help.

Q: Our LEED Canada project’s construction site has been shut down by provincial order due to COVID-19. We are concerned we will not be able to complete construction and submit on time to meet the LEED Canada sunset deadline of October 31, 2022. Can we get an extension?
A. At this time, it is unknown how long the site closures will be in effect. Once construction restarts, contact LEED Coach Canada if you still have concerns your project will be unable to meet the submittal deadline; please share your project number and the circumstances your project has faced.

Q: We can’t submit our LEED O+M project for review on time due to COVID-19. Can we get an extension?
A: Yes, LEED O+M project teams will be given a six-month extension for activities and actions they are unable to complete on-time due to COVID-19. Be sure to provide a narrative explanation when submitting for certification review. Please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada if you have project specific circumstances you would like to discuss.

Q: I have updated my cleaning strategies in response to COVID-19. Will this impact my certification?
A: Every project should feel confident in taking measures to provide a safe and healthy environment. In the event that the project team is required to purchase products that do not meet the criteria of EQc Green Cleaning due to current concerns about COVID-19, please contact LEED Coach Canada with a narrative explaining the circumstances.

Q: Can you clarify the differences in disinfection protocols for EQc Green Cleaning and the Safety First Pilot Credit: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space?
A. One of the key elements of any workplace re-entry plan is disinfection protocols. There is a difference in disinfection protocols between these two credits For the EQc Green Cleaning credit, use products that are UL 2794 certified. For the pilot credit, use any product that is approved by Health Canada as effective against COVID-19 and uses active ingredients from the EPA’s Design for the Environment program.

Q: I am concerned that the change in occupancy for my building will impact performance reporting for my LEED O+M project. What should I do?
A. We understand that significantly reduced (or increased) occupancy will impact building data and scores. Over the coming months, we will be evaluating the extent of this impact and additional guidance will be made available. We will work with each team regarding their performance questions. Please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada, sharing your project number and circumstance. When submitting for review, include a narrative explaining the drop in occupancy and what actions were taken as a result, as well as a copy of any correspondence with our staff on your project’s situation.

In the meantime, for a more accurate picture of performance, we recommend LEED v4.1 O+M projects adjust the occupancy value for their project when significant changes in occupancy have occurred. Use a time weighted average based on occupancy throughout the reporting period.

For information about the impact of occupancy changes on Arc Performance Scores, leveraged for LEED v4.1 O+M and LEED Recertification, review this Arc FAQ.

Q: How do I calculate a time-weighted average based on occupancy throughout a reporting period for my LEED v4.1 O+M project?
A: Do not enter multiple occupancy values for a given reporting period in LEED Online (or Arc); enter a single, time-weighted value for occupancy with an effective date on or prior to the beginning of the reporting period.

The number of occupants for each timeframe in the calculation should represent the space-weighted occupancy, including visitors, calculated per the “Weighted occupancy” section of the LEED v4.1 O+M Guide.

For example:

Reporting Period: June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020
June 1, 2019 through February 28, 2020: 600 occupants (75% of the reporting period)
March 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020: 10 occupants (25% of the reporting period)
Calculation: (600*0.75) + (10*.25) = 453 occupants
Enter 453 occupants

Q: What about other LEED v4.1 performance metrics impacted by COVID-19 conditions?
A: It certainly can be challenging to conduct occupant surveys, waste audits, indoor air quality measurements and other performance measures during this time. LEED v4.1 O+M project teams will be given a six-month extension for these activities if unable to complete all performance data within their reporting period. Occupant surveys can also be conducted remotely with your full-time occupants to reflect commuting patterns or satisfaction levels experienced prior to and/or during the pandemic.

LEED v4.1 O+M requires the indoor air quality evaluation to be performed during normal occupied hours, under typical minimum ventilation conditions. The indoor air quality measurements should not be performed while under low or no use. Given that many buildings will be operating with lower use for extended periods, we are currently evaluating additional guidance for the Human Experience score to address this situation. To complete indoor air quality testing during partial occupied conditions, contact LEED Coach Canada to discuss an approach for your project.

Note: projects monitoring TVOC and CO2 on a continuous basis with installed sensors may continue to collect measurements during low- or no-use conditions, but these readings may impact your score. Contact LEED Coach Canada to discuss your project’s circumstances, and we will work with you to determine an approach for your project.

LEED Recertification projects that are unable to perform annual reporting requirements in each LEED category due to COVID-19 may provide a narrative explaining the circumstances in their next LEED recertification application and will not be required to pay a new registration fee. The project team should try to perform the actions required for annual reporting at the next opportunity, within reason.

Q: My construction waste recycling facility is closed or is not recycling materials at the same rate as before due to COVID-19. I am not able to store materials to wait for better recycling conditions. What can I do?
A: We encourage all projects to continue to divert materials and recycle to the greatest extent possible. Those materials that are able to be recycled and diverted shall be documented in the normal way as outlined in the Materials and Resources Construction and Demolition Waste Management credit. However, we realize that circumstances may make recycling challenging for reasons outside a project team’s control during the global pandemic.

Projects experiencing difficulty during this time shall continue to send materials to recycling facilities and either: (a) temporarily exclude the affected loads from credit calculations (still track the materials, even though they will not count toward overall project generation and diversion rates), or (b) use the waste processing facility’s average diversion rate reported prior to the pandemic. Diversion rates must be the facility average for at least the six months prior to the pandemic.

Contact LEED Coach Canada with a narrative explaining the circumstances, as well as your preferred approach, and our LEED reviewers will help you understand how to document the approach in your LEED certification.

Q: Can I pay my LEED project’s certification fees by electronic bank transfer?
A. Yes, please contact LEED Coach Canada and we’ll provide instructions for setting up your company to make payments by electronic bank transfer rather than by cheque.


Pilot Credits

New LEED pilot credits outline sustainable best practices that align with public health and industry guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting, workplace re-occupancy, HVAC and plumbing operations. The credits can be used by LEED projects that are registered or are undergoing certification. Where the pilot credits are available to BD+C or ID+C projects, teams must demonstrate they were able to fully implement the requirements. For example, where a BD+C or ID+C project has completed construction and fit-out and the space is occupiable so that all measures in the pilot credits can be implemented, the pilot credits are available to the project. The credits are based on current, known information and will be refined over time – please share your feedback.

What are Pilot Credits?

Pilot Credits facilitate the introduction of new credits to LEED. They allow for testing of new concepts and encourage continuous feedback from users. As a pilot, they are often subject to change. LEED v4 and v4.1 project teams must register to use a pilot credit through the pilot credit library; this locks in a version for a project, though teams are always welcome to use later versions. LEED Canada 2009 projects may use the pilot credits where applicable, following the guidance of CIR 1312; registration is not required.


  • The Safety First: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Space credit requires facilities to create a policy and implement procedures that follow green cleaning best practices that support a healthy indoor environment and worker safety. Although vaccines and medical treatments are still in development for treating COVID-19, effective disinfecting products and processes already exist. In addition to product considerations, the credit also requires procedures and training for cleaning personnel, occupant education and other services that are within the management team’s control. This credit is available for BD+C, ID+C and O+M under LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1.

  • The Safety First: Re-enter Your Workspace credit is a tool to assess and plan for re-entry as well as to measure progress once the space is occupied. It identifies sustainable requirements in building operations and human behavior that provide precautions against the spread of COVID-19. The credit aligns with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Re-occupancy Assessment Tool and requires transparent reporting and evaluation of decisions to encourage continuous improvement. This credit is available for BD+C, ID+C and O+M under LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1.

  • The Safety First: Building Water System Recommissioning credit helps building teams reduce the risk that occupants are exposed to degraded water quality. Building and business closures over weeks or months reduce water usage, which can potentially lead to stagnant water or water that is unsafe to drink or use. The credit integrates recommendations from industry organizations and experts, including the U.S. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control. It requires buildings to develop and implement a water management plan, coordinate with local water and public health authorities, communicate water system activities and associated risks to building occupants, and take steps to address water quality from the community supply, as well as the building. This credit is available for BD+C and O+M under LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1.

  • The Safety First: Managing Indoor Air Quality During COVID-19 credit builds on existing indoor air quality requirements and credits in LEED. Building teams should ensure indoor air quality systems are operating as designed and determine temporary adjustments to ventilation that may minimize the spread of COVID-19 through the air. Additional considerations include increasing ventilation and air filtration, physical distancing of occupants, and following measures outlined in public health and industry resources. The guidance also encourages monitoring and evaluation of indoor air quality on an ongoing basis. CaGBC reminds teams they must apply sound judgement to determine the most appropriate recommendations for the specific building, location, and season. Teams should also ensure appropriate subject matter expertise is sought. For example, the determination of appropriate humidity levels would benefit from the expertise of a building envelope specialist. This credit is available for O+M projects under LEED 2009, LEED v4 and LEED v4.1.


Pilot credits for TRUE and SITES

A new pilot credit for TRUE focuses on eliminating adverse health impacts on personnel with regards to hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste management. It encourages the adoption of more stringent health and safety measures, such as the use and proper disposal of Personal Protective Equipment, as well as risk management and mitigation training for employees working with solid waste.

A new pilot credit for SITES encourages projects to undertake a risk assessment using the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Risk Assessment Tool, as well as create an updated operations and management plan.


Arc Re-Entry

Facility managers can use the Arc Re-Entry tool to add data and generate a performance score for their building or portfolio. The performance score provides a comparable measure of the breadth and documentation of facility management policies, occupant experience and measured indoor air quality.

The Arc Re-Entry tools can be used:

  • To document and benchmark infection-control policies and procedures
  • To collect and analyze related occupant experiences
  • To measure and track indoor air quality
  • As a stepping stone for LEED Safety First pilot credits and WELL Health-Safety rating

LEED Credentials

LEED professional credentials provide a strong foundation in sustainability practices useful for all green building projects. There are three tiers of LEED Credentials: LEED Green Associate, LEED AP with specialty and LEED Fellow.

LEED credentials are earned by passing the LEED credentialing exams, administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI Inc.). Exam registrations are submitted through the USGBC website.

In light of the pandemic, LEED Green Associate and LEED AP with specialty exams are now available online. Due to the fluid nature COVID-19 within Canada, the procedures for those taking exam continues to evolve. We recommend you periodically visit the Prometric website for regular updates.

Learn more about booking your exam here.

Visit our FAQs for LEED Credentials.

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COVID-19 resources

The industry remains proactive in developing resources to help businesses and building operators prepare for a return to work.

Along with guidance from relevant local and provincial authorities, these Canadian-specific resources and best practices will help ease workplace re-entry.

Construction Related


Looking for more resources?

Visit USGBC’s COVID-19 resources page.

Visit REALPAC’s Coronavirus / COVID-19 Resources page

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Healthy Green Buildings

Our environment and our health go hand-in-hand. Beyond energy savings and carbon reduction, green buildings – with their focus on air quality, natural light, better acoustics, and safer materials – are healthier for the people in them.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of occupant wellbeing, putting even more emphasis on proper air ventilation, air quality and cleaning practices. Buildings certified under LEED will have a head start when it comes to this change in focus, as the rating system’s holistic approach already accounts for many factors of occupant health and wellbeing.

Building re-entry, health & the impact of LEED green buildings

CaGBC President and CEO Thomas Mueller highlights the new LEED Safety First pilot credits and Arc Re-entry tool as Canada prepares to safely reopen buildings. Thomas also shares insights into how LEED buildings deliver on health and wellness at the occupant and community level.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Video Message from Thomas Mueller President & CEO, Canada Green Building Council

Looking for more resources?

Learn more about green building benefits

Learn how Arc is helping buildings prepare for a healthy re-entry

Learn more about LEED v4

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