Leed v4 Zone banner

Find LEED v4 features like news and updates, certification essentials, guidance, and tips from the
LEED Technical Bulletins to help Canadian projects successfully transition to the new rating systems.

Got questions? We have answers. You can also send any LEED v4 inquiries to LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.
Articles marked with a maple leaf are Canadian specific  

To get the most up to date information on LEED v4.1, look for the  leed v4_1 icon  logo!


LEED v4 News and Updates

Arc introduces new features and helps address COVID-19

Continuous improvement is a hallmark of the Arc platform as it evolves to better assist in the assessment and improvement of building performance. A number of enhancements were released in late 2019, as discussed in our December issue. Perhaps most exciting was the announcement that Arc would become free to use for all projects. If we are going to drive the needed improvements in our existing building stock, this is the kind of big step forward that is needed.

Arc Essentials. Now, a series of new features has been launched as a subscription service called Arc Essentials. Most importantly, Arc Essentials enables you to model the impact that a change in a specific metric will have on the Performance Score. Do you want to know what it would take to improve your Water Efficiency score by 5 points? Now you can model that.

Arc Essentials also enables you to create and customize detailed reports with information that includes LEED “readiness”. Reports can even be customized with your organization’s logos or photos and downloaded as print-quality PDFs.

Addressing COVID-19. Arc is also evolving to support buildings preparing for tenant re-entry as COVID-19 measures are lifted. A new suite of indoor air quality metrics, facility management questionnaires and occupant surveys has been released to support the management of infectious disease transmission – you can read more here.

Arc Performance Certificates. Continuous improvement isn’t only a hallmark of Arc – it is also a critical factor for successfully driving improvements in the building stock. Arc Performance Certificates are a new tool for recognizing success and leadership in individual performance categories. The new Performance Certificates subscription gives projects the ability to create an unlimited number of certificates -- in any category, as frequently as they would like. If your focus broadens or you are able to report new metrics, you can expand the certificates you generate from, for example, energy, to water and waste.

June, 2020

LEED v4.1 – Feedback Cycle Update  leed v4_1 icon

When LEED v4.1 was released in early 2019, it was presented as a beta version. Project teams utilizing LEED v4 Design & Construction were welcome to substitute the equivalent credit from LEED v4.1 or adopt it in its entirety. This allows project teams to take advantage of valuable updates as soon as possible, and to leverage their real-project experience to provide insights and suggestions before LEED v4.1 is finalized and proceeds to ballot.

In September 2019, the CaGBC Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) presented over two dozen recommendations to the USGBC, derived from feedback received from the Canadian marketplace on LEED v4.1. The USGBC has summarized that feedback from Canadians and from other users around the world, along with their responses.

The feedback cycle is an important tool in LEED development, allowing the rating system to continue to evolve and improve to address the needs and the concerns of today’s market. For example, electric vehicle charging infrastructure is an emerging industry. Under LTc Electric Vehicles (EV), the TAG recommended clear guidance be provided for load flexibility and management strategies, and specifically around circuit sharing. The USGBC is now evaluating approaches to recognize best management practices in EV charging.

The TAG also heard from the market that under EQc Daylight there are concerns that a simulation-based design may not be accessible to all projects; prescriptive-based design is still a sensible approach and can encourage good design practices. Measurements can be used to validate prescriptive and/or simulation requirements and could be included as add-on point option. This recommendation is now being considered for a future addendum.

Thank you to Canadian project teams for providing feedback on LEED v4.1.

June, 2020

COVID-19 and LEED v4.1 O+M performance reporting

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

How will operational changes and reduced occupancy due to COVID-19 impact my LEED v4.1 O+M performance reporting?

Jessica Heiss, LEED Reviewer, answers:

If your building is currently experiencing low occupancy due to COVID-19 and you are concerned about the impact on your Arc performance scores, don’t worry, we will work with each team regarding your specific challenges and questions. Contact LEED Coach Canada, sharing your project number and circumstance, and we will be glad to help.

Here are a few ways to address low occupancy changes:

  • Use a reporting period that does not overlap with the period of disruption. Note that project teams will be given a six month extension if they are not able to submit on time due to COVID-19.
  • Complete surveys on time where possible by asking full-time occupants to complete surveys remotely and base their responses on their experiences and commuting behavior prior to COVID-19.
  • Update occupancy and schedules regularly (see Building Settings). Refer to the “Weighted occupancy” section of the LEED v4.1 O+M Guide to use a single time-weighted value which considers all changes in occupancy during the reporting period. This will provide the most accurate picture of the building’s performance at this time.
  • Note that indoor air quality measurements should not be performed while a building is vacant or under significantly reduced occupancy, as LEED v4.1 O+M requires the indoor air quality evaluation to be performed during normal occupied hours, under typical minimum ventilation conditions.
  • If occupant surveys, audits or measurements cannot be completed on time due to COVID-19, your team can request a six month extension to complete any activities related to performance reporting by contacting LEED Coach Canada. The project team should try to perform the actions required for annual reporting at the next opportunity, within reason. If a six month extension is needed, be sure to provide a narrative explanation when submitting for certification review.

The following resources provide additional information about managing the impact of COVID-19:

May, 2020

Software to Help Minimize Embodied Carbon

Life-cycle assessment of buildings may not be new, but the interest in embodied carbon has been rising dramatically. The shifting focus from energy to carbon emissions has shined a spotlight on an often-ignored aspect of low-carbon design. This increased market focus has led to new products and software tools to assist design teams with reducing their embodied carbon. We have compiled a list of the most commonly used tools in Canada, and some information on how each works.

The Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings is still the most commonly used tool in Canada. This free tool developed by the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute is designed to perform whole building LCA, as well as analyze individual assemblies. Users can quickly enter and describe building assemblies while the software calculates a bill of materials and the associated environmental impacts. Alternatively, the user can import their own bill of materials. The tool is also built to facilitate comparisons. Users can easily perform side by side comparisons of one design to another while swapping out materials. The impact estimator provides embodied carbon and other life-cycle impact values for all life-cycle stages.

One Click LCA is a software package from Bionova (Finland) that features North American datasets and is gaining popularity in Canada. While One Click LCA is not a free tool, there are various packages available to suit the needs of different types of professionals. The premium offerings feature integration with multiple design tools via a Revit plugin, an IES-VE plugin, via API, or with data imported from Excel or IFC, or a combination of all of these. Its database of construction materials spans more than 20,000 EPDs for North America and includes generic data. Also, with a user-friendly interface, it facilitates the creation and comparison of multiple building designs, benchmarking against average building types, and plausibility checks of both the entered data and results. This whole building LCA tool is also supported by a number of add-ins. For example, the Carbon Designer add-in allows for easy analysis during schematic design and all you need is the building shape and size. This allows project teams to quickly analyze the impacts of different building shapes, materials, and specifications. Additional add-ins are available to support the development of environmental product declarations (EPDs), evaluating circularity, and even life-cycle costing.

Tally is a plugin for Autodesk Revitt® that allows whole building life-cycle assessment, as well as comparisons between different design approaches. Tally users can expect to pay an annual license fee. The software seamlessly integrates into the building information model (BIM), which means that projects using BIM can get real time embodied carbon information as they proceed through the design process. This eliminates the additional step of performing whole building LCA and prevents the lag in obtaining information that is associated with performing LCA as a separate scope of work.

EC3 is one of the newest tools on the scene, and unlike the previous tools it focuses on the upfront embodied carbon (life-cycle phase A), which includes the production of materials and their use in construction. The tool is both free to use as well as open source and can be used in the design or procurement phases of a project. Instead of relying on generic regional data, it contains thousands of digital environmental product declarations (EPDs) that allow owners and policy makers to access supply chain data. This allows users to set upfront embodied carbon baselines and reduction targets, and to visualize a project’s potential and realized embodied carbon impacts.

There are several other tools available on the market throughout the world as well. Using the right tool for your project can help ensure you are getting the data you need at the phase of the project you need it to enable meaningful reductions in embodied carbon.

May, 2020

LEED and COVID-19: Your top questions answered  

At CaGBC and GBCI Canada, we continue to support your work while we face the impacts of COVID-19 together. While we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, our team is still working, and remains committed to providing quality certification reviews and support for all your LEED questions.

To help you navigate some of the challenges project teams at facing at this time, we’ve made a list of the top customer service-related questions and answers. Of course, should you have a question that is not addressed here, please feel free to contact us at LEED Coach Canada.

As always, we are here to help.

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: I am concerned that COVID-19 will impact performance reporting for my LEED O+M project. What should I do?
A. Reduced occupancy may impact building data and scores. We will work with each team regarding their performance period 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.

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. Our LEED technical team is available to help you understand how each choice connects to your LEED certification. Please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada, sharing your project number and specific circumstances or questions.

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.

April, 2020

New LEED v4.1 Calculators and Forms  leed v4_1 icon

Momentum shows strong Canadian support for the world’s most widely-used green building program

While many project teams have substituted LEED v4.1 credits on their LEED v4 projects, they have had to use LEED v4 Calculators and Forms... until now. The USGBC recently released new LEED v4.1 Calculators, mostly supporting the BD+C and ID+C rating systems. Similar to the LEED v4 Calculators, the new tools are spreadsheet-based calculators designed to help document LEED v4.1 credits and help reduce the overall effort of documenting credit achievement. All LEED v4.1 Calculators can be found in the respective credits in Credit library and highlighted below:

Four of the most widely adopted LEED v4.1 credits are Materials and Resources (MR) credits Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) - Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), MRc BPDO - Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials, MRc BPDO - Material Ingredients, and EQc Low-Emitting Materials. The BPDO credits are all documented in the BPDO Calculator which has incorporated new EPD product weightings, added additional types of Material Ingredient Reporting programs, and revised minimum thresholds, which are all changes to the respective LEED v4.1 credits that are driving the widespread adoption. The Low-Emitting Materials Calculator has undergone more significant changes for LEED v4.1 due to the recategorization of some of the material categories (i.e. splitting walls, ceilings, and insulation into separate categories). The calculator now has separate tabs for each category, incorporates new standards, and integrates different compliance options for each category (e.g. surface area, volume, cost). All of these changes are designed to reduce coordination efforts for BPDO and Low-Emitting Materials credits, and ensure further the successful adoptions of these credits.

LEED v4.1 project teams can directly upload the calculators and supporting documentation into the LEED Form for each credit in LEED Online, reducing coordination efforts of project team members. All LEED v4.1 Forms are integrated into LEED Online for LEED v4.1 projects, which resolves browser compatibility issues, and allows for faster load times. LEED v4 projects looking to substitute v4.1 credits may use the LEED v4.1 sample forms which are accessible in the LEED Online on the right sidebar.

For further information or any questions please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada at LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

February, 2020

Incorrect Fees in LEED Online

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

What should I do if my project’s registration or certification fees in LEED Online have been calculated using the non-member rate and I should be paying the member rate?

Cynthia Mayville, Green Building Programs Administrative Assistant, answers:

Do not generate an invoice; if the fees noted in LEED Online are incorrect for any reason, please contact LEED Coach Canada at: LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca so that we can correct the issue and ensure you are paying the correct fees.

February, 2020

Progress on Existing Buildings

Existing buildings represent a huge opportunity for reducing GHG emissions, and a threat to hitting national emission reduction targets if changes aren’t made. To make progress on existing buildings, we first need to understand how they perform today. The CaGBC’s Disclosure Challenge is helping to advance benchmarking and public disclosure. The recently announced first-round results of CaGBC’s new voluntary Disclosure Challenge initiative included benchmarking and disclosure by over 700 buildings representing over 10% of commercial real estate in Canada – a newsworthy outcome for an initiative launched only eight months ago!

LEED continues to evolve to help accelerate change as well. LEED v4.1 O+M dramatically reduces certification challenges for buildings that have never pursued LEED, and LEED Recertification provides a straightforward path for new construction, commercial interior and other LEED projects to recertify by simply providing basic performance data. The result is that property owners are moving ahead with certification on properties that would not have previously sought certification.

Underpinning LEED is the Arc platform, which is now free to use for any building, whether LEED certified or not! Arc provides a strong platform for managing portfolios around the world and is already used by nearly 7,500 buildings. The Greenbuild conference saw the release of several important updates that will further enrich the experience and transformative power of the Arc platform.

  • Improved User Interface: New charts, graphs and other tools– all designed to make it easier and simpler to collect and report data! These new tools allow you to aggregate all your project’s big data in one place while receiving small, actionable data that you can leverage to improve your performance.
  • New Integration Partners: Arc has expanded its partnerships with leading technology organizations to offer users new tools that make Arc faster, easier and more scalable than ever before.
  • Category Level Performance Certificates: Arc now recognizes incremental improvement by allowing project teams to complete each category one at a time (energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience) to earn Category Level Performance Certificates. Projects can work toward higher levels of sustainability over time, and once you have achieved all five categories, you’re ready for LEED.
  • The Arc Improvement Score: Arc has always had a Performance Score to benchmark your project against other projects around the world. The new Improvement Score allows you to track your performance against your own internal plan and measure the progress you are making year-over-year.

December, 2019

LEED v4.1 Bringing Important Changes to Multifamily Projects

Over 120,000 LEED residential units have been registered across the country, from single-family homes to apartment and condo towers of hundreds of units. In an effort to align compliance options and prioritize the unique needs and challenges of residential projects, LEED v4.1 merges the requirements for all multifamily projects into one rating system – LEED v4.1 Residential BD+C: Multifamily Homes.

Under prior versions of LEED, multifamily certification pathways were included in three rating systems: BD+C: New Construction ("NC"), BD+C: Multifamily Midrise ("Midrise"), and BD+C: Homes and Multifamily Lowrise ("Homes").

Projects can continue to register to the v4 version of all three rating systems, and they can substitute certain credits from the new LEED v4.1 Residential BD+C: Multifamily Homes rating system. Registration to the new rating system is not yet available, and teams should note that multifamily projects cannot use LEED v4.1 BD+C: New Construction.

CaGBC is working with its committees to review the new multifamily rating system requirements - if you have feedback, we'd love to hear from you! Simply email us at LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

October, 2019

What's new in LEED v4.1 – July Addenda  leed v4_1 icon

LEED v4.1 Beta Keeps on Improving!

LEED v4.1 was released as a Beta version to allow project teams to take advantage of valuable updates as soon as possible, and to leverage their real-project experience to provide insights and suggestions before LEED v4.1 is finalized (anticipated to take place in 2020). And the Beta version has been improved thanks to market input provided. The latest updates have been included in the Beta Guides and Addenda Tables available on CaGBC's LEED v4.1 site. Addenda are released each quarter and incorporated into the LEED v4.1 drafts. July 2019's addenda brought some exciting changes.

The change that will most interest Canadian project teams is a re-vamping of LEED v4.1 BD+C LTc High Priority Sites. Previously, under LEED v4, Option 2 (Priority Designation) was directed to projects that utilized a national program to identify locations for redevelopment, such as an economically distressed community. This made this option unavailable in Canada since similar sites are not identified on a national scale in our country. Now under High Priority Sites and Equitable Development, the requirements take a broader approach to be applicable under many governmental structures. This is a truly global approach. The CaGBC would welcome your feedback on the new paths for "Economically Disadvantaged Community Location", "Equity & Community Benefits", and "Affordable Housing in Residential or Mixed-Use Projects".

And Canadian specific guidance has also been added for EAp Minimum Energy Performance, under International Tips. Canadian project teams must use the Provincial (where available) emissions factors reported in the National Inventory Report, to calculate GHG emissions by energy source; these emissions factors are readily found in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Greenhouse Gas Emissions Technical Reference.

September, 2019

Pricing and updates for LEED v4.1 O+M and LEED Recertification   leed v4_1 icon 

LEED Online updates

Arc underpins LEED v4.1 O+M by providing the scoring for the five key performance outcomes, as Portfolio Manager did for energy under earlier versions. In an exciting development, LEED Online now interfaces directly with the Arc platform so teams don’t have to leave LEED Online to enter their performance data, view their activity or access analytics.

Other recent LEED Online improvements include the addition of a button that creates a quick-start path to LEED recertification, and the addition of the LEED v4.1 O+M forms, which will facilitate the documentation of performance.

Arc users will also have noticed the appearance of version 3.0 of the tool. This version includes adjustments to fully support the requirements of LEED v4.1 O+M and the LEED Recertification model. Most notably, the energy performance score is now weighted equally between carbon and source energy.

Pricing announced

LEED v4.1 O+M and LEED Recertifications are valid for a period of three years. In recognition of the three-year certification period, GBCI Canada has published pricing specifically for these certifications.

During their LEED certification periods, projects are required to enter annual data to ensure that the project maintains a high level of performance. GBCI Canada will waive the registration fee for any recertification project that has maintained data in the years between certifications.

April, 2019

LEED Zero is here!

Greenbuild 2018 saw the launch of LEED Zero, a new program to recognize LEED projects that achieve net zero across the key performance metrics of carbon, energy, water or waste. For years, LEED projects have aspired to achieve transformative change through a holistic approach; LEED Zero is a complement to LEED that distinguishes projects that achieve net zero over one year of operation.

The CaGBC is very happy to see recognition for projects that achieve the critical milestone of net zero carbon emissions, and expects that the Zero Carbon Building Program will fit seamlessly with the requirements of LEED Zero.

LEED Zero was informally released by USGBC in September at the Global Climate Action Summit. The program is open to all LEED projects certified under the BD+C, ID+C or O+M rating systems, or projects registered to pursue LEED O+M certification.

November, 2018

LEED v4.1 announced at Greenbuild  leed v4_1 icon

Greenbuild 2017, held in Boston the week of November 6, was full of great information, along with exciting news and updates for the industry. For Canadian LEED practitioners, the most notable story was likely the announcement of the upcoming release of LEED version 4.1.

Around the world, the market is quickly gaining experience with LEED v4, and the insights gained from this experience form the basis for the changes that will be reflected in LEED v4.1. The CaGBC is helping to inform the refinements to LEED v4, providing feedback gathered from Canadian stakeholders through our ongoing engagement with project teams. Canada is also well represented on the technical advisory groups and LEED Steering Committee. We are confident the updates will significantly improve the experience of Canadians pursuing LEED.

LEED v4.1 is not a wholesale update to LEED, but a refinement. Market feedback and an analysis of credit achievement rates have been used to identify where the market may be struggling with the current requirements.

LEED v4.1 is expected to be released in Q1 2018, although LEED for Homes may be available before the end of 2017. To ensure industry support, LEED v4.1 will go through a public review process in 2018, and balloting will likely take place in 2019. In the meantime, project teams will be able to pilot the new rating system and benefit from all of the improvements. They will also have the option to pursue the requirements as established in LEED v4.

Among the more exciting changes anticipated are:

  • Updates to challenging Materials credit options, daylighting and acoustics.
  • Increased energy efficiency stringency.
  • Measures to increase the adoption of O+M to drive greater market transformation.
  • Integration of the various rating systems that apply to homes and multi-family buildings into a new LEED for Residential rating system.

Stay tuned for more information about the next evolution of LEED as it becomes available. You can also dive deeper into the information provided at Greenbuild by reading this blog post.

November, 2017

Starting a LEED v4 project? Start with CaGBC!  

CaGBC’s technical customer service team is available to provide you with support for LEED v4 inquiries. Simply direct questions to info@cagbc.org where they will be redirected to the appropriate subject matter expert.

Registration for LEED v4 is straightforward. To start, simply register the project through the CaGBC's website as you would normally, selecting the LEED v4 rating system that applies to your project. For additional information on the many rating systems available, please see the LEED v4 Rating System Selection Guidance. Following registration, teams are provided instructions for creating their project profile in LEED Online, a platform that helps teams coordinate and expedite the documentation and certification processes.

For additional information about LEED v4 certification, please consult our website, and be sure to look at the Canadian Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs).

April, 2017

Back to top


Certification Essentials

April addenda for LEED v4 D+C and O+M

The USGBC released the LEED rating system and reference guide quarterly addenda on April 10, 2020, including reference guide corrections for LEED v4 D+C and O+M rating systems, a new LEED Interpretation, five new Pilot credits and some updated resources. LEED v4 reference guide corrections for D+C and O+M clarify allowable exclusions for end-use connected loads for EA credit Advanced Energy Metering. For further information, the April 10, 2020 Addenda tables for LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C and O+M can be found in the Resources section of the USGBC website and selecting the Addenda filter.

LEED Interpretation 10499 for LEED v4 BD+C and O+M projects, EA prerequisite Building-Level Energy Metering, addresses how to exclude energy consumption of electric vehicles for commuter vehicles, privately owned cars and busses that use electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) provided by the project. Note that the exclusions are only allowed if the EVSE is separately sub-metered, and cannot be applied for any electric vehicles used on-site (e.g. electric fork lifts, etc.).

Highlights of the new Pilot credits include Alternative Performance Rating Method for LEED v4 ID+C: Commercial Interiors, Advanced Transportation Monitoring Systems for LEED v4.1 BD+C: New Construction and Advanced Transportation Monitoring for LEED v4.1 O+M: Existing Buildings.

The April Addenda also included updates and bug fixes to the LEED v4.1 Minimum Energy Performance and Rainfall Events Calculators.

Forms for LEED v4.1 credit substitutions

With the release of the new LEED v4.1 sample forms (found in the right sidebar of LEED Online), the “Process for attempting credit substitutions” section of the LEED v4.1 Beta Guides have been revised to include specific direction on how to submit the new forms.

For all the details, refer to the LEED v4.1 BD+C, and LEED v4.1 ID+C Addenda Tables, and for a step-by-step guide to using sample forms for v4.1 credit substitutions, refer to this article.

May, 2020

Key Submission Steps in LEED Online

Is your project ready to submit for certification? As LEED Online is new to many project teams, we have outlined the steps involved.

  • Have you ensured Project Information is complete, providing all submittal requirements as per the PI Form?
  • Have you uploaded all required documentation and Excel calculators?
  • Is the gross floor area consistent throughout the project documentation?


Once you have all documentation uploaded, there is a grey checkmark to the left of the credit name which marks the credit as “Ready to Review”. After selecting the grey checkmark, the checkmark will turn green and the drop down in the credit row will say “Ready for Review”.


Once all prerequisites and credits that you plan to submit are marked “Ready for Review”, press the “Submit for Review” button at the top of the page.


There is an important verification step: you need to confirm the submittal by reviewing the credits marked ready for review, and then you can click the ”Submit” button at the top of the page.

Once you have completed the above steps, your required payment will be linked to the gross floor area provided in LEED Online. Your certification review will start once payment is complete.

If you experience difficulties submitting your project for review, please feel free to contact LEED Coach Canada at LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

February, 2020

Check your points! Three things to watch for in the Credits tab in LEED Online

1 Submitting for final review? Be sure to verify in LEED Online that you are attempting enough points to certify (Certified level starts at 40 points). LEED Online includes denied points in the overall “attempted” score, so subtract those points to ensure you are applying with a sufficient amount.

2 Pay special attention to multi-point credits, such as Indoor Water Use Reduction.

If you need to adjust the number of points attempted in a multi-point credit, you can do so in the “Thresholds” tab by simply selecting the appropriate threshold. This allows your project team to accurately track your final score.

3 Regional priority points are automatically calculated in the overall attempted score, and if earned, included in the awarded total. In the credits tab look for the regional priority icon on the far-right which changes from gray to orange if earned.

December, 2019

Precertification in LEED Online

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

Question: What is precertification and why is this pathway selected in LEED Online?

Amanda Ashmore, LEED Reviewer, answers: The default selection in the Timeline tab of a BD+C project in LEED Online is to pursue the precertification pathway and this is taking some by surprise. Precertification is a review pathway available for an additional fee to all LEED v4 BD+C projects as well as O+M projects pursuing the performance path. This optional additional review stage helps project teams determine which credits and prerequisites are likely to be achieved during the full certification review. The results can be used to demonstrate a commitment to LEED and to help market the unique green features of a project to attract tenants and financiers. Precertification does not shorten the full certification review that is required in order to earn LEED certification.

LEED Canada projects were not offered the option of precertification and therefore this term will be new to many. Be sure to check that the certification pathway option reflected in the Timeline tab in LEED Online is correct for your project so the appropriate LEED forms will be available on the Credits tab. Teams can toggle the certification pathway option to change to the Design and Construction, or Standard review pathways as they apply to the rating system of the project. Please feel free to send any questions to: LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

If your project has elected to pursue precertification, in most cases the LEED forms will not be available in LEED Online. Instead, your project will complete and upload the Precertification Worksheet along with any supporting documentation, note the appropriate prerequisites and credits as ready for review on the “credits” tab, and then submit for review. Once achieved, precertification is valid for three years.

November, 2019

LEED Coach Canada: Market-Specific Support for LEED Projects   

LEED Coach Canada provides bilingual, coast-to-coast, market-specific support for your Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects. With LEED Coach Canada, GBCI Canada applies the expertise we've developed since CaGBC first published a Canadian adaptation of LEED in 2004.

Offered through GBCI Canada, LEED Coach Canada support staff are subject-matter experts who know the pulse of the Canadian market. As LEED v4 reviewers, they accurately represent Canadian needs when it comes to the development of Alternative Compliance Paths and in the evolution of the rating systems such as LEED v4.1.

If you are working on a LEED project and have questions, LEED Coach Canada is here for you. We provide prompt service, with responses generally within five business days--and delivered from the certification body that will be reviewing your LEED project.

For more information on the LEED Coach Canada program, reach out to LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

September, 2019

Dive In – Successful LEED v4.1 Credit Substitutions   leed v4_1 icon 

Many have expressed an interest in the flexibility and improvements offered by LEED v4.1, but their current projects may not be at a stage where it is suitable to upgrade entirely to the latest version. However, all BD+C and ID+C v4.1 prerequisites and credits are available for substitution by LEED v4 projects - see the Beta Guides for special direction on substituting select credits.

As the beta rating systems are a pilot, LEED v4 project teams are encouraged to implement LEED v4.1 strategies a la carte as they suit the projects. This provides a chance for the Canadian market to use their first-hand project experience to inform and accelerate the development of the future balloted requirements. Just a reminder that feedback can be provided at any time to LEED Coach Canada.

The LEED v4 reviewers have recently seen an uptake in LEED v4.1 strategies substituted on LEED v4 projects, especially when they offer additional assurance or contingency to teams that are submitting their first LEED v4 project. The team at Prairie Architects Inc. had already received the preliminary certification review report for their project when LEED v4.1 was released. They were excited at the opportunities the changes would open up and, even between reviews, were able to adjust their approach in order to submit for final review substituting four credits.

Alara Matsyk, Sustainable Buildings Coordinator on the project, noted that the changes to the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization - Sourcing of Raw Materials credit in LEED v4.1 in particular, gave additional recognition for the work the team had put into materials reuse. "While it was only one point gained for that credit, every point counts," Matsyk added. "While we weren't able to take advantage of very many v4.1 updates, it looks promising for future Manitoba projects. We felt in general that the industry was being listened to, and are looking forward to further positive changes in this v4.1 beta version." Read more about Prairie Architects' Winnipeg offices, now LEED v4 ID+C: CI Platinum certified.

August, 2019

What’s new in LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C – IP Credit Integrative Process   leed v4_1 icon

The changes to IP Credit: Integrative Process allow project teams more flexibility in demonstrating their integrative approach to the decision-making process. The credit intent remains the same and is aimed at supporting early analysis of relationships between building systems and disciplines within the project team; however, the documentation requirements have been updated. Previously, project teams were required to complete a detailed worksheet to describe the owner’s project requirements, assessments for the basis of design and outcomes in construction. In LEED v4.1, the team must provide a letter to describe the impact of the integrated approach in terms of improving interaction between the project team members and the outcome for the project. The letter must include a separate summary for each issue area analyzed and describe how the analysis informed decisions. The letter should be a team effort; guided by the Integrative Process Facilitator, signed by all principal project team members and made available to all key stakeholders. This added flexibility encourages involvement from all members of the project team in the discovery phase.

To earn the credit in LEED v4.1, energy and water-related systems must be assessed. Teams can earn an Exemplary Performance point for analyzing project goals through an additional lens to demonstrate the outcomes and benefits of integrative process. Additional areas include site selection, social equity, health and well-being, or another topic relevant to the project.

June, 2019

Are there exemptions for small incomplete areas in LEED v4?

Under LEED Canada NC 2009, project teams have benefitted from an exemption for small tenanted areas in their projects, where they had difficulty enforcing requirements through mandatory lease agreements. This exemption for 10% of the floor area (20% in mixed-use projects) was outlined in the LEED Canada Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction 2009 and further clarified in CIR 976.

LEED Interpretation (LI) 10102 has recently been updated to allow similar guidance to be applied to LEED v4. Generally, any incomplete spaces in LEED BD+C v4 projects (with the exception of Core and Shell) are required to follow the direction in the Getting Started section of the LEED BD+C v4Reference Guide to use tenant guidelines or owner commitment letters. This information was also outlined in November 2017 issue of the LEED Technical Bulletin. The allowance in LI 10102 notes:

For the ease of documentation, project buildings where up to 10% of the building gross square footage or 20,000 gross square footage (whichever is smaller) contains incomplete space, will not be required to provide an Owner’s Letter of Commitment or Tenant Guidelines during the LEED certification submittal. These projects are required to comply with all other provisions outlined in this LEED Interpretation.

However, similar to LEED Canada NC 2009, this exemption does not apply to any prerequisites and credits with established baselines (for example, Indoor Water Use Reduction and Minimize/Optimize Energy Performance). As explained in the LI, the proposed case must be held equivalent to the baseline for the incomplete spaces, except where binding lease agreements can be provided.

April, 2019

How to Accelerate Your LEED v4 Certification

Every LEED project has the potential to certify after only the preliminary review; the CaGBC reviewers would like to get you there. The most persistent theme amongst the LEED v4 project submissions is missing documentation, which extends the review process adding time and effort for project teams. Unlike the LEED Canada review process that Canadian practitioners are familiar with, LEED v4 does not have a “Completeness Check”. Instead, projects use the LEED Online platform and once the submission and payment have been received the review begins right away. If the documentation submitted is incomplete, the review could be put on hold to request additional information, thus causing delays. In most cases, missing documentation results in a lost opportunity for the reviewer to request any necessary clarification, leading to a greater chance the prerequisite or credit could be denied.

Before submitting for certification project teams are encouraged to verify that all required documentation outlined in the LEED Form for each prerequisite and credit has been uploaded to LEED Online. To avoid pending credits and ensure a successful preliminary review:

  • Complete the Project Information (PI) documentation. Pay special attention to include information on occupancy and the building floor area, upload a site plan noting the LEED boundary, and provide photos and drawings of the project inside and out.
  • Upload all energy simulation documentation. Review the documentation outlined in the LEED Form for EAp Minimum Energy Performance ensuring that both the simulation input and output reports for the proposed and baseline models have been provided, as well as the completed Minimum Energy Performance Calculator.
  • Identify all relevant details and use them consistently throughout the submission. Project teams should refer to the Getting Started section of the Reference Guide, specifically the Maintaining Consistency in the Application subsection to confirm characteristics such as occupancy calculations, incomplete spaces, or tenant areas have been treated appropriately.
  • Provide all completed calculators in Excel. Calculators are found under the “Resources” tab in the Credit Library where required to demonstrate compliance, for example WEp Indoor Water Use Reduction and EQp Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance. Review the Instructions tab to be sure that each usage group or system has been entered.

Looking for more insight into what LEED v4 reviewers are looking for? The CaGBC has recently released a Reviewer Tips for LEED v4 On Demand course which highlights typical issues seen during reviews and provides strategies to avoid challenges commonly encountered by project teams.

March, 2019

Reviewer Insight: Three Helpful LEED Interpretations for LEED v4 Projects

The following three LEED Interpretations applicable to the LEED v4 rating systems have caught the eyes of CaGBC reviewers and may be useful to Canadian project teams:

LEED Interpretation #10474
Released July 2, 2018, this Interpretation addresses Canada’s legalization of marijuana use. As per the LEED Interpretation, the smoking of cannabis is considered a form of smoking for all intents and purposes for both the interior and exterior smoking provisions of the LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C and O+M, EQ prerequisite Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control.

LEED Interpretation #10425
This LEED Interpretation, released October 1, 2015, clarifies that a generic industry-wide Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) can be used to document up to ten products for LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C MR credit Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Sourcing of Raw Materials, Option 1, Environmental Product Declarations. Please note that each product declared must have separately reported impacts within the EPD, and as with all industry-wide EPDs, documentation demonstrating that the manufacturer is explicitly recognized as a participant by the program operator must be provided.

LEED Interpretation # 10411
This LEED Interpretation, released April 1, 2015, applies to LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, O+M and ND Sustainable Sites credit Heat Island Reduction and allows for the use of typical solar reflectance values that can be used in lieu of project-specific testing data for standard non-roof materials. See the typical values listed below:

Gray cement concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.26, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.18
White cement concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.70, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.35
Asphalt concrete - Initial Solar Reflectance: 0.05, Three-Year Aged Solar Reflectance*: 0.10
*Three-year aged SR values are based on no cleaning.

For complete details about each LEED Interpretation please refer to the Addenda database.

November, 2018

Update on French language support for LEED v4

Hot of the (electronic) press, the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction Reference Guide is now available in French on the LEED v4 Resources page.

As many now know, GBCI Canada is conducting the certification reviews of LEED v4 projects. Certification review reports are only available in English for the time being, however, project teams are able to provide their submission material in French.

While LEED Online will remain in English only, it is our goal that language not be a hurdle to LEED certification. Technical inquiries in French, as well as any other questions, can be directed to customer service info@gbcicanada.ca.

June, 2018

Why is my project confidential within the USGBC and CaGBC project directories?

People often wonder why their project is listed as confidential within the USGBC and CaGBC project database. The selection to indicate that your project is private is initially made in the registration form in LEED Online. If you indicate “this project is private" it will not be listed in these publicly available LEED project directories. This use of the word private does not indicate that the project is privately held or a private residence but rather that the project details, such as the name and address, should be held confidential. Note that, a private project may not be advertised to the general public as being registered or certified. You can update this selection within the project details in LEED Online at any time.

June, 2018

Register Canadian LEED v4 projects in LEED Online  

Registration is now administered by GBCI Canada through LEED Online, a platform used by project teams to coordinate and expedite the documentation and certification process.

Organizations that are CaGBC Specialist Members benefit from reduced registration and certification fees. Not a member? Become one today.

For information on the many rating systems available, please see the LEED v4 Rating System Selection Guidance. LEED for Homes and Midrise projects must contact a Provider prior to registration; Providers guide the project through the process of seeking certification and provide on-site inspections. To register a project for the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, please contact GBCI Canada customer service directly.

We will be happy to answer any questions you might have. Email info@gbcicanada.ca or call (toll-free) 1-866-941-1184.

May, 2018

Reminder – Submit your project for preliminary review within 2 years

You’ve successfully registered, designed and built your project and collected all necessary documentation. Your project has achieved substantial completion, and is now occupied. Now it’s time to submit your LEED v4 BD+C or ID+C project for preliminary review (preliminary standard review or preliminary construction review). Remember to submit no later than two (2) years after substantial completion. LEED v4 and v4.1 O+M projects are required to submit within 60 days of the end of their performance period.

April, 2018

FAQ – Is my project required to follow addenda?

The October Technical Bulletin discussed the usefulness of the LEED v4 Addenda but which LEED v4 projects are required to follow the addenda?

Answer - Project teams must follow addenda published prior to the date of registration of that project; however addenda published after project registration is not required to be followed. Due to the helpfulness of addenda, though, it is strongly recommended that project teams follow any addenda published after the date of registration.

As always each addenda (cumulative or each individual) can be found on the resources section of the USGBC website. For project teams that prefer hard copies or PDFs of reference guides, be sure to download and refer to each new addendum as they are released for current direction. Those using the Online Reference Guide for LEED v4 will find the addenda automatically included.

For more information on LEED v4 addenda, please see the October LEED Technical Bulletin.

December, 2017

Incomplete spaces in BD+C

LEED v4 BD+C projects are required to have at least 60% of the gross floor area completed at the time of certification. Historically, project teams were allowed to pursue LEED Canada NC 2009 if at least 50% of the gross floor area was completed at the time of certification. However, under LEED v4, no more than 40% may be incomplete, unless the project is certifying under the LEED BD+C: Core and Shell (CS) rating system.

BD+C: Core & Shell

The scope of Core and Shell (CS) projects are limited; as a result, only portions of the project within the LEED scope are included in credit calculations. If a project team wishes to apply for credits that are beyond the scope of design and construction of the LEED project, a tenant sales and lease agreement, signed by future tenants, must be provided. The lease agreement must be binding and include terms on how credit requirements will be met by the tenant. An unsigned or sample lease agreement is not acceptable. For example to take credit for savings from not yet installed plumbing fixtures for WE credit Indoor Water Use Reduction in a tenant space of a CS project, the project team must submit a signed and executed legally binding tenant sales and lease agreement. If a signed and executed legally binding tenant sales and lease agreement is not provided, project teams must assume that the as yet installed plumbing fixtures have baseline water consumption rates. Please note that lease agreements are not required in order to pursue CS certification. They are only used if a project is aiming to earn additional points for measures that are considered outside of the project design and construction scope that will be fit-out by a future tenant.

For more information refer to the Incomplete Spaces and Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement portions under Maintaining Consistency in the Getting Started section in the Credit Library. Also be sure to refer to the Rating System Variations portion of the Further Explanation Section within each credit, for credit specific guidance.

All BD+C adaptions EXCEPT CS

For incomplete spaces intended to be finished by tenants, unlike LEED Canada NC 2009, project teams are not required to provide copies of mandatory lease agreements, unless attempting to claim savings. Instead, submit a set of nonbinding tenant design and construction guidelines, with a brief explanation of the project circumstances. Similar to CS above, for prerequisites with established baselines (e.g., WE Prerequisite Indoor Water Use, EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance) and the credits dependent on the calculations in the prerequisites, the proposed design must be equivalent to the baseline for the incomplete spaces. Project teams that wish to claim environmental performance or benefit beyond the baseline for incomplete spaces must have binding Tenant Lease and Sales Agreements (e.g., signed by the future tenant).

For incomplete spaces intended to be finished later by the owner, similar to LEED Canada NC 2009, a letter of commitment, signed by the owner, indicating that the remaining incomplete spaces will satisfy the requirements of each prerequisite and credit achieved by this project must be submitted. However, unlike LEED Canada NC 2009, this letter may cover the commitment in general terms and need not address each prerequisite or credit individually.

For more information refer to the Incomplete Spaces and Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement portions under Maintaining Consistency in the Getting Started section in the Credit Library.

November, 2017

LEED Credit Library (the online Reference Guide) – new features available for FREE

Looking for credit specific requirements and submittal tips? Refer to the LEED Credit Library online… for FREE. The Credit Library contains each credit from each version of each rating system. Once a given credit is selected the Intent and Requirements can be found on the Language tab. The Language tab also includes sample LEED Forms, any SITES-LEED equivalencies and Pilot alternative compliance paths. The Resources tab now includes a lot of very useful submittal tips, calculators, links to third party guidance documents and standards and informational videos. The Addenda tab includes any relevant reference guide corrections, LEED Interpretations, and LEED Form updates.

Curious about LEED v4, but not sure where to start? Review the entire Getting Started, Minimum Program Requirements, Rating System Selection Guidance sections of the BD+CID+CO+MHomes, and ND LEED v4 Reference Guides online for FREE. The Getting Started sections are particularly helpful when looking for direction about project boundaries, occupancy, incomplete spaces, Tenant Sales and Lease Agreement, and the Campus Program. They typically address issues that span an entire rating system.

Then move on to the Credit Category Overviews sections of the BD+CID+CO+MHomes, and ND LEED v4 Reference Guides also online for FREE. The Credit Category Overview sections are particularly helpful when looking for information about qualifying products and material contributions for the Materials and Resources credits, or information about occupied vs non occupied spaces, and floor area calculations for the Indoor Environmental Quality credits. They typically address issues that span an entire credit category.

Once you are ready to get into the details and start using LEED v4, the online Reference Guide will be your most valuable resource. Complete with Step by Step Guidance, Further Explanation, Calculations, and Changes from LEED 2009, the Guide provides the necessary information to inform your project’s design. An annual subscription to the Web-based Reference Guide can be purchased which will unlock the Guide tab, providing access to all the information contained in the printed LEED v4 Reference Guides. For the price of a single subscription, users have access to all LEED v4 rating system families.


  • Submittal Tips from LEED v4 Reviewers are now available for free in Online Credit Library, under Resources.
  • Useful explanatory videos are also available now for free, like this example from Rainwater Management.
Calculating Percentile of Storm Events cover image

October, 2017

Addenda Tables

The USGBC releases LEED Addenda quarterly which includes clarifications, corrections and new interpretations for each LEED rating system. The most recent addenda were released October 2nd, 2017. Each addenda (cumulative or each individual) can be found on the resources section of the USGBC website. For project teams that prefer hard copies or PDFs of reference guides, be sure to download and refer to each new addendum as they are released for current direction.

If you didn’t get the chance to read last quarter’s addenda, for improved convenience, rating system and reference guide corrections are incorporated into the LEED credit library with each addendum release. Project teams need only refer to one resource when using the online guide and will never miss a correction.

October, 2017

Receive early feedback on your LEED v4 project

Curious how your LEED v4 Design and Construction project will fare? Not sure if it’s on track to meet your certification targets? Submit it under Split Review! A split review is available to all LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C projects through LEED Online. Submit all design prerequisites and credits for review at the end of the design phase (before the project is substantially complete) and incorporate the design review outcomes into the construction of your project at a time when changes can more readily be made. Then submit the remaining construction prerequisites and credits at the end of the construction phase, lessening the volume of work for your team of professionals at project completion. Note that design credits may still be submitted with the construction submission, if desired.

Interested, but not sure which are design and which are construction credits? Refer to Table 2, in the Getting Started section of the LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C Reference Guides. You can read the entire Getting Started section of the BD+C and ID+C Reference Guides online.

September, 2017

Back to top


Sites and Water

Identifying previously developed sites

Under LEED v4 Design and Construction rating systems, several credits require the project team to determine whether the land has been previously developed. The Getting Started section of the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide (under Maintaining Consistency in the Application, Previous Development) includes clarifications about what constitutes previous development:

Previously developed land is defined as “land that has been altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past).

Land that is not previously developed and landscapes altered by current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development.”

Lands without buildings present can sometimes be difficult to assess. Parklands, in particular, can be confusing; improved parks with highly manicured landscaping and constructed features like playgrounds are considered previously developed. However, it is important to remember that land that has only been cleared or graded, without additional improvements, is not considered previously developed. Similarly, land maintained in a natural state, even if there are minor features like walking paths or mowed grass, are not considered previously developed.

Project teams should also take note of the difference between a previously disturbed site versus a previously developed site. A previously disturbed site is a site that has been disturbed in any way, by grading, compacting, clearing, or previous development. Remember that not all previously disturbed sites can be considered previously developed. The term “previously developed” is used within the Location and Transportation category, whereas “previous disturbed” is used with the Sustainable Sites category; each term reflects the intent of the credits in those categories.

June, 2020

Did you know: Including school classroom sinks

Did you know?

Under LEED v4 BD+C: Schools, classroom sink use must be included in the Indoor Water Use Reduction Calculation, but may either be treated as kitchen sinks if used similar to kitchen sinks, or public lavatories if used primarily for handwashing. If the sinks are only present in a few classrooms, estimate the use of students and staff who have access to that sink on a daily basis.


June, 2020

Lighting Boundary

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

For SSc Light Pollution Reduction, does the lighting boundary have to align with the LEED boundary?

Ryan Heays, LEED Reviewer, answers:

The lighting boundary refers to the limits of the lighting zone, and it typically coincides with the property line or the project boundary, but not always. As noted in the Further Explanation section under ‘Lighting Boundary’, the lighting boundary may be modified in certain situations:

  • When the LEED project boundary abuts a public area, the boundary can be moved to 5 feet (1.5 meters) beyond the property line.
  • When the LEED project boundary abuts a public roadway or public transit corridor, the lighting boundary may be moved to the center line of that roadway or corridor.
  • When additional properties owned by the same entity responsible for the LEED project are contiguous to the project site and have the same or a higher lighting zone as the project, the lighting boundary may be expanded to include those properties. In these cases, it is best if a lighting master plan is developed.

Note that when the lighting boundary is modified to include areas outside the LEED project boundary, only those fixtures within the LEED project boundary need to be included in the calculations.

June, 2020

Understanding Open Space in LEED v4/ v4.1  leed v4_1 icon

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

For LEED BD+C v4 Sustainable Sites credit Open Space, can areas of turf grass (sod) contribute to vegetated open space calculations?

Colleen Loader, Manager, Sites, Water, & Materials answers:

Turf areas can be counted in total open space but do not qualify as the 25% of the open space that needs to be vegetated. Additionally, for turf areas to qualify as open space, the areas must be physically accessible and with physical site elements that accommodate outdoor social activities or that encourage physical activity. Small strips of vegetation along roadways or parking lots would not be considered usable and cannot contribute to credit achievement.

Note also that for areas to be counted towards the vegetated portion of the open space, the space must still be physically accessible and meet one of the following criteria: a garden space with a diversity of vegetation types and species that provide opportunities for year-round visual interest; a garden space dedicated to community gardens or urban food production; or a preserved or created habitat that meets the criteria of SSc Protect or Restore Habitat and also includes elements of human interaction. Note, again, that open space must be usable; small strips of vegetation abutting a parking lot would not be considered usable.

Project teams may also wish to consider adopting the credit under LEED BD+C v4.1 which allows all projects to utilize physically accessible vegetated roofs toward the minimum vegetation requirement. Additionally, for the vegetated area, overhead canopies can now be utilized, and landscaped areas need only have two (or more) types of vegetation, rather than a diversity of types; however, the latter areas must still provide opportunities for year-round visual interest.

Reviewer Insight: Submitting your documentation in LEED Online

Keep file names short.

Long file names can prevent files from downloading from LEED Online. To ensure that your documentation can be fully accessed in review, consider a few ways to keep file names brief:

  • Use ‘CamelCase’ (i.e., eliminate spaces and use capital letters for each new word)
  • Avoid special characters
  • Shorten date formats (e.g., YYMMDD)
  • Abbreviate longer names wherever possible

March, 2020

CEE commercial clothes washer specification

LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

The CEE commercial clothes washer specification was suspended, how do I determine if my commercial clothes washer meets the LEED v4 requirements under the Indoor Water Use Reduction prerequisite?

Amanda Ashmore, LEED Reviewer, answers:

Although the CEE Commercial clothes washer specification was suspended in 2013, LEED v4 projects must still demonstrate compliance with the CEE Tier 3A commercial clothes washer criteria that was in effect at the time the LEED v4 rating system was published. Project teams may choose a washer from the qualifying products list or alternatively demonstrate that the selected product has a Modified Energy Factor (MEF) of at least 1.80 and a maximum Water Factor (WF) of 7.5. Note that commercial clothes washers that comply with the current ENERGY STAR specification (v7.1) meet the CEE Tier 3A criteria.

December, 2019

Sampling Water Fixtures in LEED v4 O+M

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

Question: For the LEED v4 O+M Water Efficiency prerequisite: Indoor Water Use Reduction, is it acceptable to test a sample of water fixtures when manufacturer’s documentation is not available?

Jessica Heiss, LEED Reviewer, answers: If the manufacturer or testing company cannot provide the rated flow rate for fixtures installed within the building, project teams may use on-site tests to report the most accurate volume of water use. This should be done by testing a sample (i.e., 20%) of each installed fixture type at the building’s water pressure. The design case calculations would use the actual measured flow rate of the fixtures installed in the project, and the baseline calculations would use the LEED baseline flow rates included in the LEED v4 Indoor Water Use Reduction Calculator.

October, 2019

What’s New in LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C – Location and Transportation  leed v4_1 icon

Access to Quality Transit- As mentioned in the January LEED Technical Bulletin, the changes to this credit are a noteworthy improvement for project teams! Intermediate thresholds (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 points) have been added to recognize more levels of achievement. Weekend service has also been adjusted to allow project teams to use the weekend day with the highest number of trips, rather than using an average of both weekend days. This change should assist projects in less urban areas.

Bicycle Facilities- In recognition that bicycle sharing is becoming more prevalent, LEED v4.1 allows on-site bicycle sharing stations to contribute up to 50% of the long-term and short-term bicycle storage spaces. The LEED v4.1 credit also recognizes that the required distances for bike storage in the previous version (LEED v4) were not long enough. The distance from the main entrance to short-term spaces has doubled to 200 feet (60 meters), and the distance to long-term spaces has tripled to 300 feet (90 meters).

Reduced Parking Footprint- This credit has changed significantly in the beta version. The requirements under LEED v4 have been revised to a new Option 2 that requires all projects to reduce parking by 30% based on the updated 4th edition of the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Transportation Planning Handbook, while not exceeding local zoning. The requirement for preferred carpool parking has been removed based on market feedback that this requirement is no longer truly benefiting the intent of the credit due to changing market conditions. Instead, to better reflect today’s market, new options have been added: Option 1. No Off-street Parking, Option 3. Carshare, and Option 4. Unbundling Parking, which recognizes projects where parking is sold separately from all property sales or leases, and implements a daily parking fee at a cost equal to or greater than the daily cost of public transit.

Electric Vehicles- The credit title has changed from Green Vehicles to Electric Vehicles, recognizing that this is the focus of the green vehicle market. Option 1. Electric Vehicle Charging includes an adjusted requirement for the charging stations to be vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connected but removes the “preferred parking” requirement for “green vehicles”; the latter is a welcome change by the Canadian market as there was no common definition of “green vehicles”. The new Option 2. Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure recognizes projects which install at least 6% of parking spaces (or a minimum of 6 spaces) which are EV Ready, as defined per the requirements. (Note there has been a further positive change to Option 1, as per the article below: LEED v4.1 and Electric Vehicle Charging Station requirements).

May, 2019

LEED v4.1 and Electric Vehicle Charging Station requirements  leed v4_1 icon

CaGBC received feedback through customer service and LEED User Groups this spring, that the adjusted LEED v4.1 BD+C/ID+C LTc Electric Vehicle requirement under Option 1 was proving to be a challenge. The need for Electrical Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) to comply with ISO 15118was seen as a significant change for the marketplace and may make the option very difficult to attain, thereby negating the benefits of the other changes to this credit.

However, LEED v4.1 is a beta version, which is being adapted based on market feedback. This requirement for the EVSE to meet ISO 15118 has been changed in response to the concerns from the market. While the “vehicle to grid connected” remains a requirement, ISO 15118 has been suggested as an example: “Be vehicle to grid connected (e.g. ISO 15118 compliant) and capable of responding to time-of-use market signals (e.g. price). Projects pursuing EA credit Grid Harmonization should incorporate EVSE into any demand response program or load flexibility and management strategies.”

This change can be seen in the Online Credit Library and is expected to be listed in the July 2019 quarterly addenda and updated rating system PDFs at that time. Canadian market feedback is valuable, and this is a great example of how your feedback contributes to improvements to the LEED v4.1 beta versions. Feedback is always welcomed from our membership: feel free to provide your feedback to GBCI Canada.

May, 2019

What is the WaterSense Label and How Does it Apply?

The Water Efficiency prerequisite for Indoor Water Use Reduction requires that “all newly installed toilets, urinals, private lavatory faucets, and showerheads that are eligible for labeling must be WaterSense labeled”. This requirement is in alignment across Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, and Neighborhood Development rating systems. However, to clarify, projects are not required to source all fixtures and fittings with a WaterSense label. The label only applies to newly installed tank-type toilets, water-using urinals, private lavatory faucets and showerheads. Fixture types that were not labeled by WaterSense when LEED v4 was released, such as tankless toilets, waterless urinals, and public lavatory faucets, must only comply with the aggregate percentage reduction criteria of the prerequisite. This direction is in the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide, under WEp Indoor Water Use Reduction, Step-by-Step Guidance.

The WaterSense label is available in Canada and focuses on ready-for-market products. Products, under the WaterSense label, meet US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) specifications for water efficiency and performance, and are verified by independent, third–party certification. WaterSense ensures that not only do the products meet efficiency measures, but includes additional performance indicators. For example, showerheads must meet criteria for water coverage and spray intensity while still meeting the required water flows. WaterSense also goes beyond water efficiency and performance, taking into consideration environmental and economic impacts; this includes determining if there are any unintended impacts that could be caused by anticipated specification requirements.

The requirements for toilets/water closets appear to be a source of confusion. When LEED v4 was released, only tank-type toilets (known as “residential toilets” by WaterSense) had a WaterSense label. Tankless toilets, often referred to as flushometer toilets, flush value toilets, or as “commercial toilets” by WaterSense, did not have a label at that time; therefore, as per the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide, tankless toilets are not required to meet the WaterSense label requirements under LEED v4. While a WaterSense label is now available for these tankless toilets, project teams are encouraged, but not required, to review WaterSense product selection to increase the performance and efficiency of their water using fixtures.

The WaterSense requirement for tank-type toilets is that they must use no more than 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) (4.8 Litres per flush (lpf)) as well as meeting a minimum flush performance test. For dual-flush tank-type toilets, they are still required to meet this threshold, but it is the result of an average of two reduced flushes and one full flush.

December, 2018

Changes to parking related credits

Two of the more commonly achieved credits in LEED Canada NC-2009 are Sustainable Sites credit (SSc) 4.3 Alternative Transportation – Low-Emitting and Fuel-Efficient Vehicles and SSc 4.4: Alternative Transportation – Parking Capacity. Both credits have undergone a number of changes as well as reallocation to the new Location and Transportation (LT) category. Under LEED BD+C v4 they are recognizable as LT credit Green Vehicles and LT credit Reduced Parking Footprint, respectively.

From Low-Emitting and Fuel-Efficient Vehicles to Green Vehicles

For Green Vehicles, the requirements have been refined based on project type and adapted to help steer infrastructure and market change. The credit now requires project teams to provide designated preferred parking for green vehicles (5% of all parking spaces) in addition to electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) or liquid, gas or battery facilities (2% of all parking spaces available). Note that preferred parking for green vehicles is independent of EVSE, or liquid, gas and battery facilities. Green vehicles have a wider definition than version 2009’s “low emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles”; any vehicle scoring 45 or above on the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) annual vehicle rating guide is acceptable. Preferred parking is not required for EVSE or liquid, gas and battery facilities.

EVSE charging is now more robust in requirements with Level 2 charging capacity (208-240 volts) – a typical household outlet (Level 1) is not acceptable. Connectors are required to comply with local electrical connectors, such as SAE J1772, SAE Electric Vehicle Conductive Charge Coupler or IEC 62196. EVSE must also be networked or have the capability to connect to a network for participation in a demand-response program or dynamic pricing infrastructure (e.g. time-of-use pricing) in order to encourage off-peak hour charging.

School projects have the additional option of implementing a plan to have school busses meets specific emissions standards within seven years of building occupancy and purchase or lease only green vehicles for school use. Warehouses and Distribution Centres can also earn a point by providing electrical connections at 50% of loading docks to reduce truck idling, or can green up their on-site fleet by providing at least one yard tractor powered by electricity, propane or natural gas (with appropriate on-site charging or refueling).

From Parking Capacity to Reduced Parking Footprint

For Reduced Parking Footprint, the biggest change is that the requirements have been harmonized for all project types. Therefore, after reductions are made from the base ratios (noted in the Transportation Engineers’ Transportation Planning Handbook, 3rd edition, Tables 18-2 through 18-4.), preferred parking for carpools must be provided for 5% of all parking spaces; residential and non-residential. For mixed use buildings, first calculate the parking capacity for each use (as specified by the base ratios) and then determine the percentage reduction from the aggregated parking total.

Additionally, projects located in a less dense area, or not transit-served are afforded a lower threshold.

The requirements now include all existing and new off-street parking spaces that support the project’s operation. This includes any parking that is outside the project boundary, but does not include on-street parking.

March, 2018

The Water Use Reduction Credit Category Moves towards a Complete Water Demand Profile

In LEED v4, the Water Efficiency credit category has adopted the reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchical approach, similar to the Materials and Resources credit category. Both Outdoor Water Use Reduction and Indoor Water Use Reduction prerequisites focus on selecting fixtures, fittings, systems, and landscaping which reduce potable water demand. In order to recognize the additional benefits of alternative water sources, the related credits address a project's use of nonpotable water within the credit calculations. As a result, nonpotable water, such as collected rainwater can no longer contribute to the Indoor Water Use Reduction or Outdoor Water Use Reduction prerequisites, only the credits.

Calculations for Indoor Water Use Reduction prerequisite and credit are also handled differently where occupants may need to utilize fixtures outside the "project's scope". For the prerequisite, all new and existing fixtures, appliances, and process water within the LEED project boundary are included in the calculations. However for the credit calculations, documentation must include all fixtures and fittings required to meet the needs of the occupants, which may include fixtures and fitting outside the LEED project boundary. This is similar to LEED Canada NC 2009 CIR 922 - Excluding fixtures outside of LEED project scope from WEp1 requirements.

The scope of water efficiency has also expanded to include a more complete profile of the project's water use in credit calculations. Indoor Water Use Reduction now includes requirements for reductions from not only fixtures, but appliances and processes (such as cooling), as well.

To take a closer look at the complete list of requirements for Outdoor Water Use Reduction and Indoor Water Use Reduction, please refer to the LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide, or the Credit Library.

December, 2017

Back to top


Energy and Ventilation

Reviewer Insight: Two Helpful Energy Modelling LEED Interpretations for LEED v4 Projects

Reviewers would like to share these two important energy modelling LEED Interpretations applicable to the LEED v4 rating systems.

LEED Interpretation #10454 This LEED Interpretation allows commercial interiors projects to model the existing envelope in the baseline energy model in lieu of modelling the baseline to ASHRAE 90.1 Appendix G prescriptive new construction envelope requirements when pursuing LEED v4 ID+C EA prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance and EA credit Optimize Energy Performance, Option 1, Tenant-Level Energy Simulation. In exchange for the allowance, these projects must demonstrate a 5%performance improvement under the prerequisite, and a 2% performance improvement above established performance thresholds in EAc Optimize Energy Performance.

LEED Interpretation #10390 Is your project using a non-traditional fuel such as wood pellets or wood chips? This LEED Interpretation clarifies the methodology for addressing “purchased” on-site renewable energy, and/or purchased biofuel that is not considered on-site renewable energy within the LEED energy model for EA prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance and EA credit Optimize Energy Performance. For non-traditional fuel sources that are unregulated within ASHRAE 90.1, both the baseline and proposed case models must use the actual cost of the fuel. The exception is if the fuel source is available at a discounted cost because it would otherwise be disposed of, the project team may use local rates for the fuel for the baseline case and actual rates for the proposed case. If this applies to your project, provide documentation substantiating the difference in rates, and substantiating that the fuel source would otherwise be disposed of.

For complete details about each LEED Interpretation please refer to the Addenda database.

May, 2019

Calculating your LEED v4.1 project’s carbon emissions reduction   leed v4_1 icon 

The most exciting change in LEED BD+C and ID+C v4.1 is the explicit addition of carbon pollution from building operations: nine points are now available for reductions in carbon emissions. The Energy and Atmosphere Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite and Optimize Energy Performance credit calculate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions by comparing GHG emissions of the proposed building to the baseline building. Use the emissions factors reported in the National Inventory Report, submitted by Canada to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to calculate GHG emissions by energy source. These emissions factors are readily found in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Greenhouse Gas Emissions Technical Reference (Greenhouse Gas Emissions).

Feedback is welcome at any time - share your ideas and suggestions for improvements by contacting GBCI Canada.

April , 2019

Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP released  

The CaGBC is pleased to announce the official release of the Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP (Version 1) for Canadian projects wishing to use the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) 2011 to demonstrate energy performance under LEED v4. This version supersedes the beta version previously released and includes improvements to the tool based on market feedback as well as bug fixes and improvements to formatting and functionality.

The Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP is an excel based tool to be used when projects are documenting compliance using the NECB ACP for LEED v4 BD+C and LEED v4 ID+C EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance and EA Credit Optimize Energy Performance. This calculator contains required checks on energy model inputs, based upon the NECB 2011 ACP, as well as summary output totals. The summary tab in the calculator is used to complete the form in LEED Online. Version 1 of the calculator is now available for download on the LEED v4 Canadian ACPs page on the website. Project teams are asked to help with the ongoing improvement of the calculator by sending any feedback or comments on the tool to info@cagbc.org.

June, 2018

Data centres must now be included in Canadian Portfolio Manager

In February 2018 important updates were made to Canadian Portfolio Manager. These included updates to the scoring models based on the data from the 2014 Survey of Commercial and Institutional Energy Use (SCIEU) and updates to source energy factors to reflect the latest data. The other important change was the addition of an adjustment factor for data centres located in office buildings, allowing data centre energy to be included in the total building energy consumption.

This significant change is the result of collaboration between the CaGBC, NRCan, the EPA and the USGBC to have the Canadian Portfolio Manager incorporate a model for data centres in Canadian office buildings ensuring the high energy use of data centres is accounted for in the ENERGY STAR score. This will ensure that commercial office buildings with data centres receive an equitable score.

With this update, data centre energy use in office buildings is no longer required to be sub-metered as the tool uses estimates to adjust the performance score of the Office Property Type. With this automatic adjustment factor, the allowance previously given to LEED Canada EB:O&M 2009 projects to exclude the data centre energy consumption and associated floor area (provided the space was submetered and the floor area was 10% or less of the building floor area), is no longer permitted. Data centre energy must be included in the total building energy consumption entered in Portfolio Manager.

This update impacts LEED projects across all rating system versions, including LEED Canada EB:O&M 2009 and LEED O+M v4 projects.

Please see the CaGBC website for additional details regarding the February 2018 updates to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and how these updates affect LEED projects

March, 2018

Guidance and tools for the LEED v4 NECB 2011 ACP  

The CaGBC is pleased to provide new guidance and tools to assist Canadian projects wishing to use the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) 2011 for demonstrating energy performance under LEED v4. The following documents are now available on the website:

  • Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP
  • Multifamily Energy Model Simulation Guidelines for the NECB 2011 ACP

Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP

The Minimum Energy Performance Calculator for NECB 2011 ACP is an excel based tool to be used for projects documenting Minimum Energy Performance using the NECB ACP for LEED v4 BD+C and LEED v4 ID+C EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance and EA Credit Optimize Energy Performance. This calculator contains required checks on energy model inputs, based upon the NECB 2011 ACP, as well as summary output totals. The summary tab in the calculator is used to complete the form in LEED Online. The beta version of the calculator is available for download on the LEED v4 Canadian ACPs page on the website. Project teams are asked to help with the ongoing improvement of the calculator by sending any feedback or comments on the tool to info@cagbc.org.

Multifamily Energy Model Simulation Guidelines for the NECB 2011 ACP

The CaGBC has adapted the USGBC’s Multifamily Energy Model Simulation Guidelines which were based on ASHRAE 90.1-2010 for use with the Canada ACP for NECB 2011. The Multifamily Energy Model Simulation Guidelines for Canada ACP - NECB 2011 are now available under the LEED v4 Canadian ACPs page on the website.

The Multifamily Energy Model Simulation Guidelines (ASHRAE 90.1-2010 or NECB 2011) are applicable to all multifamily residential projects pursuing the Whole-Building Energy Simulation path under LEED v4 BD+C: Multifamily Midrise as well as under LEED v4 BD+C.

Note that in October 2016, the USGBC released an addenda allowing high-rise residential buildings of 4 stories or more to use either the LEED v4 BD+C or the LEED v4 BD+C: Multifamily Midrise rating system.

April, 2017

Back to top



Achieving MRc Construction and Demolition Waste Management in LEED v4.1   leed v4_1 icon

Option 1: Diversion

The July 2019 LEED BD+C v4.1 Addenda included positive changes to Option 1: Diversion which adjusted the requirements to make this option more achievable. Project teams can now earn one point using Path 1, by diverting 50% of total construction and demolition material through at least two material streams, rather than three. Two points are earned using Path 3 by diverting 75% of total construction and demolition material through at least three material streams, rather than four. The October 2018 LEED Technical Bulletin outlined how to define a material stream. Remember that a material stream is defined by where the material ends up. For example, wood can be diverted for fuel at a power generation facility, and diverted for reuse by a building supply store; both count as separate material streams if tracked separately. Conversely, multiple materials can be diverted in a singular manner, creating a single stream. For example, collecting asphalt, concrete and masonry which is crushed together for fill or aggregate is considered a single stream.

New paths 2 and 4 have been added for projects to demonstrate compliance using commingled recycling; however, these paths require the use of an offsite sorting facility certified by the Recycling Certification Institute or approved equivalent. As there are currently no certified recycling facilities in Canada, these new paths are not yet achievable for Canadian projects.

Under LEED v4 and v4.1, commingled recycling can only count as a single material stream unless the project team provides documentation confirming the project specific diversion rates (by material). Note that if the sorting facility provides project specific totals, the materials must be sorted and weighed to determine the weights for each material stream. Visual inspection is not an acceptable method for documenting the diversion rate. Alternatively, the commingled recycling may count as a single material stream using the facility’s average diversion rate, which must be regulated by the local or state authority and must exclude alternative daily cover (ADC). (See the October 2018 LEED Technical Bulletin for more details.)

Option 2: Reduction of total waste material

LEED v4.1 also adjusted the threshold for Option 2 to use more achievable thresholds. All BD+C project types (except Warehouse and Distribution projects) only need to reduce waste generation to less than 36.6 kilograms of waste per square meter, rather than the previous stricter threshold of 12.2 kg/m2. Additionally, this threshold now only includes construction waste; renovation and demolition waste has been separated to a distinct requirement, to divert 75%. Based on the last two years of data collected from recently certified LEED Canada 2009 projects, it is estimated that at least 10% of New Construction projects should be able to achieve the new threshold and over 35% of Core & Shell projects.

Remember, though, when using this option, project teams must provide a narrative to describe strategies in design and construction to prevent or reduce waste from being generated on the jobsite, as well as documentation supporting the total waste per area. Ideas for source reduction can be found in the LEED BD+C v4 Reference Guide under Further Explanation, and include prefabrication, modular design, and designing for standard material lengths.

March, 2020

Procurement of Low Carbon Construction Materials

A new pilot credit is available for LEED v4.1 called Procurement of Low Carbon Construction Materials (MRpc132). The pilot credit aims to reduce the embodied carbon of materials used in construction. The credit uses methodology developed by the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington, which aims to allow for comparability of life cycle assessment data by addressing and reducing uncertainty.

Compliance to the pilot credit can be documented using the new Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), launched during the 2019 Greenbuild Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The free tool was conceived by Skanska USA and C Change Labs, and is being incubated by the Carbon Leadership Forum. The tool was designed to be used by building designers, contractors, owners, material suppliers and policymakers, and can be used in the design or procurement phases of a project. It contains thousands of digital environmental product declarations (EPDs) that allow owners and policy makers to access supply chain data to set embodied carbon baselines and reductions by enabling simple visualization of a project’s potential and realized embodied carbon impacts.

To assist with the launch, the Carbon Leadership Forum has produced the following documents:

Figure 1: A Sankey Diagram that shows the possible carbon reductions within the value chain for the structural components. (Source: EC3)

December, 2019

The High Value of LEED Interpretation #10495 for Low-Emitting Materials

Not sure about adopting the LEED v4.1 Low-Emitting Materials credit? Go for it, because not only are there more opportunities to earn points, but the number of product categories has been expanded, and the emission evaluation thresholds have been reduced for all categories. Additionally, a recent LEED interpretation clarified that LEED v4 projects substituting the v4.1 credit can continue to use standards from LEED v4, making the Low-Emitting Materials credit more accessible and achievable for all projects. So go ahead and explore all that LEED v4.1 has to offer.

LEED Interpretation #10495 (released October 2019) officially allows LEED v4 BD+C and ID+C projects that adopt LEED v4.1 EQc Low-Emitting Materials to use California Department of Public Health (CDPH) v1.1-2010 in place of CDPH Standard Method v1.2-2017 for VOC emission evaluation; South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1113, effective June 3, 2011, in place of SCAQMD Rule 1113, effective February 5, 2016, for VOC content evaluation of Paints and Coating; and SCAQMD Rule 1168, July 1, 2005, in place of SCAQMD Rule 1168, October 6, 2017 for VOC content evaluation of Adhesives and Sealants. For a complete list of credit requirements and standards, refer to the LEED v4.1 Beta Guides (available on CaGBC’s website) and LEED Interpretation #10495.

Your feedback was heard. The concern with updated standards was a commonly raised issue from the market. As a result, the release of LEED Interpretation #10495 is expected to be well received. The CaGBC would like to provide a big thank you to all those who provided feedback either through email or through LEED Roundtable and User Group sessions across the country, to help LEED v4 / v4.1 better position itself to strike the balance between achievability and leadership. Your feedback was reviewed and consolidated by the CaGBC TAGs and passed onto the USGBC.

November, 2019

What's new in LEED v4.1 – MR credit BPDO – Environmental Product Declarations  leed v4_1 icon

The LEED v4.1 Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits introduced some highly anticipated changes to credits often perceived as being too challenging. Specifically, MRc BPDO – Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) lowered the requirements for BD+C: Core and Shell, and Warehouse and Distribution Centres projects, as well as all ID+C adaptions from a minimum of 20 products from five manufacturers meeting one of the disclosure criteria to ten products from three manufacturers meeting the criteria. Lowering the number of required products was a suggestion voiced by a number of interest groups, and the USGBC has responded by making the credit more accessible to projects that generally use fewer materials than new construction projects.

The change to this credit that perhaps has more of an impact than the number of products, is the re-weighting of EPDs. Previous product-specific life cycle assessments, Industry-wide (generic) Type III EPDs, and Internally reviewed Type III EPDs that were worth a fraction of a product are now all worth one product. Additionally, product specific Type III EPDs that are externally verified and critically reviewed are now worth 1.5 products. This adjustment simplifies documentation and further encourages manufacturers to develop more EPDs, increasing the availability of information related to their product's environmental impacts.

Finally, the LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C Beta Guides introduced additional documentation requirements for Summary Sheets for Industry-wide Type III EPDs and Product-Specific Type III EPDs. Summary Sheets must include several particulars, see the Beta Guides for additional information. Note that Summary Sheets are developed by the manufacturer and act as cover sheets for EPDs. This is not a summary by a consultant of all EPDs used on a given project.

August, 2019

Life Cycle Assessment in LEED v4.1  

LEED v4.1 is here, and it’s ushering in a number of revisions that are likely to have an impact in developing the market. Some of those significant changes are to the MR credit Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, specifically Option 4. Whole-Building Life-Cycle assessment. Under LEED v4, project teams would earn three points for a Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment (WB-LCA) that demonstrated a minimum 10% reduction in three (of six) impact categories. These requirements remain unchanged in LEED v4.1 (they now comprise Path 3), however the structure of Option 4 is significantly different. 

LEED v4.1 introduces new paths with respective point levels designed to incentivize development of WB-LCA studies. Each path represents a tier related to the performance of the LCA of the project. Path 1 is to simply perform an LCA, regardless of the results, and project teams will earn one point. For two points (Path 2), teams must demonstrate a minimum 5% reduction in three (of six) impact categories, one of which must be global warming potential. For three points (Path 3), the team must demonstrate a minimum 10% reduction in three (of six) impact categories, one of which must be global warming potential. And for a full four points (Path 4), teams must demonstrate a minimum 10% reduction in two (of six) impact categories, 20% reduction in global warming potential, and incorporate building reuse and/or salvaged materials into the project structure and enclosure. Additionally, for Path 2, 3 and 4, no single impact category may increase by more than 5% compared with the baseline building. As with LEED v4, the requirements in LEED v4.1 to have a baseline and proposed building of comparable size, function, orientation and operating energy performance remains unchanged. Similarly, the service life of the building must be 60 years.  

One of the goals of LEED v4.1 revisions is to have the credit requirements be more broadly achievable, which is apparent with the range of paths introduced with Option 4. We expect these changes will increase the accessibility of, and interest in, using whole-building life-cycle assessment to improve the design of upcoming LEED projects. Given LEED v4.1 is a Beta rating system, to help accelerate and deepen market transformation, we encourage project teams to explore LEED v4.1 and provide feedback prior to the final balloted requirements. For more information on how to have your say, see below. 

March, 2019

Construction and Demolition Waste Management

Under LEED v4 for both the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) rating systems, the Materials and Resources (MR) credit Construction and Demolition Waste Management has evolved to recognize stronger material diversion. Under Option 1, project teams must not only divert a minimum amount construction and demolition waste (50% for Path 1, 75% for Path 2), they are also required to divert at least three material streams for Path 1 or four materials streams for Path 2. But, what is a material stream?

The LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide defines a material stream as “a flow of materials coming from a job site into markets for building materials”. Ultimately, a material stream is defined by where the material ends up. In the simplest example, a single material would be diverted in a singular manner; therefore it would be considered a single stream. The reality is that any given material can be diverted many different ways, creating multiple streams. For example, wood can be diverted for fuel at a power generation facility, and also diverted for reuse by a building supply store; both count as separate material streams if tracked separately. Conversely, multiple materials can be diverted in a singular manner, creating a single stream. For example, collecting asphalt, concrete and masonry which is crushed together for fill or aggregate is considered a single stream: on-site waste diversion.

Looking for additional material streams? Consider these waste diversion tactics: deconstructed materials for reuse markets; reuse of deconstructed materials on-site; and manufacturer take back programs, all of which contribute as material streams if tracked separately for your project.

A common method of construction and demolition waste management is commingling materials, with off-site sorting. Commingled waste sent to a mixed waste recycling facility counts as a single material stream regardless of the number of different materials included. However, if the recycling facility can track and document project specific material diversion measured by weight or volume, they may contribute as multiple material streams. It is critical that the documents are project specific and measured by weight or volume, and are consistent throughout. A key change from the previous versions of LEED is that visual inspections are no longer acceptable. Documenting project specific diversion rates for comingled waste may be done through itemized haul tickets or letters from the sorting facility that confirm the process for determining individual material weights. The documentation must be clear that the sorted materials have been separately weighed or measured, not estimated through visual inspection.

Alternatively, commingled waste may contribute by providing the recycling facility’s average annual diversion rates, if they are regulated by local or provincial authority. If using the facility’s annual diversion rate, project teams must provide information about how the facility handles the waste, in addition to confirmation of the facility’s annual diversion rate. Note that projects which only use comingled waste sent to one facility, and use that facility’s annual diversion rate, will only achieve one material stream, and therefore not meet the minimum credit requirements of three material streams.

Documenting overall project diversion rates for the purposes of this credit must include all waste diverted and all waste sent to the landfill. If the project team used more than one waste hauler, enter all of the information into one single document, such as the LEED v4 MR Construction and Demolition Waste Calculator.

So, what’s the best strategy to achieve MRc Construction and Demolition Waste Management? Source separation is the most effective means of achieving high diversion rates and multiple materials streams, as each material type is considered a different material stream.

October, 2018

What Composite Wood to include in Low-Emitting Materials

The LEED v4 BD+C and LEED v4 ID+C Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) credit Low Emitting Materials uses the definition of Composite Wood per California Air Resources Board (CARB) 93120 Composite Wood Products Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) which includes hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard. Therefore, it excludes hardboard (high density fibreboard), structural plywood, structural panels, structural composite lumber, oriented strand board (OSB), glued laminated timber, prefabricated wood I-joists, and finger-jointed lumber.

Similarly, LEED Interpretation #10466 clarifies that structural engineered wood products do not need to meet the general emissions evaluations requirements. Structural wood products do however have to be:

  • made with moisture resistant adhesives meeting ASTM 2559;
  • have no surface treatments with added urea-formaldehyde resins or coatings, and;
  • have a certificate of compliance with the applicable industry standard, as outlined by product type (e.g. plywood, OSB, etc.). See LEED Interpretation #10466 for full list of product type requirements.

What about softwood plywood? In Canada softwood plywood is quite common. Consider the definition of hardwood plywood per CARB 93120 ATCM:

“’Hardwood plywood’ (HWPW) means a panel composed of an assembly of (A) hardwood layers or plies of veneer or (B) veneers in combination with a platform consisting of lumber core, composite core, a special core material, or special back material, joined with an adhesive. The face veneer may be composed of a hardwood or decorative softwood species (ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2004)…”[emphasis added]

The definition references the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association (HPVA) standard for hardwood and decorative plywood, which allows the use of softwood face veneers in the definition of hardwood plywood.  Therefore, softwood plywood is not exempt, and is subject to CARB 93120 ATCM, and the Composite Wood Evaluation requirements of LEED v4 EQ credit Low Emitting Materials, which is to have ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins or no added formaldehyde resins.

November, 2018

Material Ingredient Reporting and Optimization

Option 1 of MR credit BPDO – Material Ingredients relates to transparency, with the incentive for project teams to gather information about building materials and identify specific ingredients of a given product. It requires selection of products for which manufacturers disclose a product's chemical inventory to at least 0.1% or (1,000 ppm). That is to say 99.9% of a product's ingredients must be disclosed.

The USGBC's LEED v4 BD+C Reference Guide Addenda tables in April 2016 and April 2017 expanded the list of acceptable programs to include Declare, ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard, Cradle to Cradle Material Health Certificate, Product Lens Certification and Facts - NSF/ANSI 336, in addition to Manufacturer Inventory, Health Product Declaration (HPD), and Cradle to Cradle. Note that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are only required to report ingredients to 1% (10,000 ppm), so unless the MSDS specifically states materials have been disclosed to 1,000 ppm, it is not compliant documentation. For a complete list of acceptable programs refer to the Credit Library.

For assistance identifying compliant documentation consult this website for guidance on HPDs and this summary of Declare labels.

Option 2, Material Ingredient Optimization, relates to reducing impact on health and the environment, with the incentive for project teams to go a step further and make choices about less harmful products. It requires selection of products which comply with either GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmark, REACH Optimization or Cradle to Cradle. Note that manufacturers must disclose a product's chemical inventory to at least 0.01% (100 ppm), as 100 ppm is a more granular level of detail than 1,000 ppm. For a full list of Option 2 requirements refer to the Credit Library.

May, 2018

CSI Qualifying Divisions for MR Credits in LEED v4

The Materials and Resources (MR) category of LEED Design and Construction (BD+C and ID+C) Rating Systems has always required permanently installed building products to be included in credit calculations. Most of these products fall into Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat Divisions 03-10, 31 and 32 under the 2004 edition. Division 12 - Furnishings, though not required, may be included as long as it is done so consistently across all MR credits. Historically, LEED D+C rating systems have not required the inclusion of mechanical, plumbing and electrical equipment (CSI MasterFormat divisions 11, 21-28). LEED v4 D+C MR credits now have the option to include elements of these divisions. In contrast to how furniture is handled, not all installed products from division 11, 21-28 are required to be included; only passive elements (e.g. ducts, piping, plumbing fixtures, conduits, etc.). However, similar to furniture, if included in cost-based credits (e.g., Option 2 in the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credits), passive elements from division 11, 21-28 must be included consistently across all cost-based credits. If they are included in product-based credits (i.e., Option 1 in the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credits) however, they are not required to be included in the cost-based credits.

Confused? The Materials and Resources Category Overview in the LEED v4 Reference Guides offers valuable information on topics that apply to multiple credits within the category. This section highlights cross-cutting issues that impact calculations including an explanation of the qualifying products and exclusions. You can read it online in the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction Guide Introduction.

September, 2017

Back to top


Innovation, ACP & Pilot Credits

LEED: Build Resiliency to Climate Change   

Climate change resilience is top of mind as many Canadians recently participated in the Global Climate Strike. As a nation, we are experiencing more intense and volatile weather with each passing year, which has impacts across the country. More frequent periods of drought and wildfires, 100-year flood events happening every few years, and intense heat and humidity are increasingly affecting daily life.

Those of us in the green building industry know that designing sustainable buildings has never been more important. As the premier global standard, LEED has always been recognized for its climate change mitigation power, by reducing emissions from building operations, transportation, materials manufacturing and more. However, not everyone recognizes the climate change adaptation and resilience benefits of LEED.

At the building scale, LEED encourages greater thermal resilience, renewable energy, and rainwater harvesting, to name a few elements that are critical to resilience in the face of a changing climate. LEED projects also encourage better stormwater management, reduce the use of water resources, protect natural habitats, and help reduce heat island effect – all important considerations for greater regional resilience.

For projects keen to emphasize resilience, the LEED v4 Pilot Credit Library includes three credits that support the design of buildings that are resilient to natural disasters and take into account the potential impacts of future climate events. The credits are primarily focused on risk assessment and resilience to environmental disasters and offer resources for project teams looking to start a conversation about climate change. LEED pilot credits can be used as innovation strategies on LEED v4 projects. LEED Canada 2009 projects can also utilize these credits through Credit Interpretation Request 1312.

Understanding the Credits

Assessment and Planning for Resilience is the first pilot credit and encourages proactive planning based on potential impacts of natural disasters and long-term impacts of climate change.

The Design for Enhanced Resilience credit promotes designing buildings that resist damage from natural disasters (i.e., flooding, high winds, earthquakes, drought, wildfires, landslides, extreme heat and winter storms).

With the Passive Survivability and Back-up Power During Disruptions credit, the focus is on ensuring that the building will maintain safe temperatures and a reasonable level of functionality in the event of extended power outage or loss of heating.

The pilot credits include various tools and resources, such as a LEED Climate Resilience Screening Tool and various reports about design best practices.

Design smart

The key to completing a successful hazard assessment is having access to quality climate data. Below is a list of Canadian resources that provide regional information about climate-related risk factors to assist in completing climate hazard assessments and designing buildings to be resilient against risks specific to the site.

Are you incorporating climate change resiliency in your projects? Are you looking for support in joining the climate change resiliency conversation? We want to hear from you! Reach out to us at LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca with your questions or feedback on the LEED pilot credits on resiliency.

October, 2019

Achieving the Daylight Credit in LEED v4/v4.1 BD+C   leed v4_1 icon 

The Daylight credit in LEED has always been one that many projects target; it improves the well-being and performance of the building's occupants, reduces the need for electric lighting, and can improve energy costs. With LEED v4, the credit has evolved to provide occupants with superior daylighting. The changes include an increased Annual Sunlight Exposure (ASE) target, as well as the removal of the prescriptive option. However, these changes can make it more challenging to achieve at extreme northern latitudes, especially with a limit (3,000 lux) to the amount of daylight at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

These marketplace concerns have alerted the CaGBC Materials Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG) for changes needed to make Daylighting more accessible for Canadian projects. Through cooperation with other green building councils, the MR TAG learnt about an Alternate Compliance Path (ACP) that the Sweden Green Building Council (SGBC) was proposing to the USGBC (ACP Pilot credit, approved July 2019). This Nordic ACP proposes an alternative methodology for calculating daylight performance according to the European prEN17037 standard, and calculations are based on available daylight hours rather than office hours.

The CaGBC LEED Daylight Taskforce and simulation of Canadian projects

MR TAG recommended the formation of the CaGBC LEED Daylight Taskforce to facilitate LEED v4 Daylight credit achievement in northern latitudes and investigate the Nordic ACP use for Canada. The taskforce was created with volunteers from MR TAG, SGBC members, and other Canadian professionals, and performed climate-based daylight simulations on four Canadian LEED projects. Analysis of the options under LEED Canada NC 2009, the Nordic ACP, and the newly released LEED v4.1 were all modelled for comparison. LEED v4.1 was chosen instead of LEED v4 as it was regarded by the taskforce to be more achievable.

The findings

Simulation results demonstrated that three projects had the potential to achieve the credit with LEED Canada NC 2009 and LEED v4.1 Option 1; while two projects had the potential to achieve the credit with LEED v4.1 Option 2 and Nordic ACP Option 1. No projects could achieve the credit with Nordic ACP Option 2.

LEED v4 Option 1 challenges (e.g. thresholds, time, expense) made it unlikely to be utilized by most Canadian projects, while LEED v4.1 Option 1 offers an improvement with the modification of the ASE requirements. The previous advantages of adopting the European Nordic ACP path (use of daylight hours vs operation hours, shading and no requirement for ASE) did not offer a simplified compliance path for Canadian Projects as compared with LEED v4.1, and would require costly and time-consuming simulations compared to LEED v4.1.

The LEED v4 Daylight Taskforce concluded that the newly released LEED v4.1 credit appears to offer a better option and more achievable path for Canadian project teams to obtain points under the Daylighting credit with the new thresholds (depending on the option), compared to the Nordic ACP.

The CaGBC MR TAG is open to continuing to collaborate with the Sweden Green Building Council and other green building councils around the world to increase the accessibility of the Daylight credit for projects in Northern latitudes, while still providing quality daylight to occupants. The CaGBC would like to give special thanks and appreciation to all members of the Daylight Taskforce for their contribution and time:

  • Government of New Brunswick - Pam Barteaux (Taskforce Chair) and Eren Wuest,
  • Provencher_Roy - Guillaume Martel (MR TAG Chair),
  • Architecture49 Inc. - Sarah Chernis and Janelle Harper,
  • BAU - Paul Rogers, Angel A. Perez Morata and Anton Hendrix,
  • Footprint - Jessica Cushing and Lyle Scott,
  • Integral - Ellie Niakan, Emily Codlin and Mike Martinez,
  • LINK Arkitektur - Vaia Vakouli,
  • Perkins+Will - Cheney Chen,
  • Stantec - Marc Trudeau and Charline Cormier,
  • Sweden Green Building Council - Sue Clark,

WSP - David Rulff and Stacy Sun.

September, 2019

How to achieve Green Cleaning in BD+C and ID+C

Historically one of the most common innovation strategies has been Green Cleaning. The requirements for this credit have evolved over time with each new rating system and version, and project teams should review their current Green Cleaning policies to ensure that they meet the new v4 requirements. So how does one achieve Green Cleaning on a LEED v4 project? Check out the Innovation catalog for both Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) which has established requirements for both. Once the appropriate credit is selected be sure to click on the Resources tab which contains a Green Cleaning Policy template that can be catered to each project type. Reviewer Tip – the template makes it easy to ensure your policy will successfully meet the requirements.


Under BD+C, project teams should refer to the LEED O+M Starter Kit credit, which is a collection of O+M credits for which establishment policy requirements can be bundled together in order to achieve one Innovation credit. Note that BD+C projects cannot achieve an innovation credit from pursuing LEED v4 O+M EQ prerequisite Green Cleaning Policy alone; project teams must select two of the available five prerequisites and credits:

  • SSp Site Management Policy
  • MRp Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy
  • MRp Facility Maintenance and Renovations Policy
  • EQp Green Cleaning Policy – (Option 1 only)
  • EQc Integrated Pest Management

For each of the identified prerequisites and credits the Performance requirements are optional. For a complete set of requirements please refer to the Credit Library.


Under ID+C, however, project teams may earn one innovation credit by pursuing the Green Cleaning Policy (Option 1 or 2).

February, 2018

Back to top