LEED: Build Resiliency to Climate Change   

Green Building Team on October 28, 2019

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.