New Opportunities for Tenants interested in ZCB-Performance certification

Green Building Team on February 7, 2024

Rating System/Standard
Zero Carbon Building
Certification essentials
Zero Carbon

A new opportunity is now available for tenants and owners pursuing ZCB-Performance certification. Like ZCB-Design, ZCB-Performance is a whole-building certification, with specific eligibility criteria to certify an “attached building” independently. The current guidance within the standards required physical distinction and a distinct building identity which would normally not allow separation of a commercial retail unit from the whole building for ZCB-Performance based on tenant boundaries. However, some building owners have expressed desire to accommodate ZCB-Performance certification for select tenants, with ESG targets, for instance, and have historically been impeded by dissenting views from the remaining tenants in the building.

CAGBC and its Zero Carbon Steering Committee have found a path forward to maintain brand integrity and simplicity for the review process, while accounting for varying ambition levels from tenants. The committee has approved an allowance for separation of linear, horizontally sub-divided buildings, such as strip malls or industrial park buildings, where certain conditions can be met, such as unique ventilation, electrical and hot water systems, separate metering, and no common entrances shared with the other units.

The allowance will be released in CAGBC’s upcoming ZCB Interpretation Database anticipated to be launched before the end of Q1. This Interpretation Database will allow for clients to seek alternative paths for more unique scenarios, receiving decisions from CAGBC committees. Those decisions will then be available to all readers, allowing the database of solutions to grow over time.

The full Interpretation for this situation is available below:

Title: Separating tenant-controlled areas in a linear, horizontally attached building
Summary Question: Can an entire, individual tenant space (commercial retail units) within a linear, horizontally sub-divided building, such as a strip mall or similarly configured industrial park building, pursue ZCB-Performance certification?
Decision / Ruling: Yes, an individual commercial retail unit (CRU) within a linear, horizontally sub-divided building may pursue ZCB-Performance certification provided the following requirements are met:
  1. The tenant of the CRU must have control (or joint control with landlord) over the aspects of the building operations related to energy, operational carbon, and embodied carbon within their tenanted space, except as noted below.
  2. The CRU must be separated from other CRUs by party walls.
  3. The CRU must have its own entrance(s). There must not be common entrances shared with other CRUs.
  4. The CRU must have its own operational systems, including mechanical (such as HVAC), electrical, and hot water heating. Energy consumption must be metered at the level of the individual systems or aggregated at the level of the CRU. This is necessary to demonstrate compliance with the energy and carbon requirements of the Standard and provide the element of control over upgrades. The operational systems may be housed in a mechanical room that is shared with other CRUs and the building owner.
  5. Any shared energy usage on the property site (e.g., parking lot lighting, EV charging stations) must be apportioned based on weighted floor area, leasing agreement attribution of parking, or another appropriate methodology. Projects must include a narrative with supporting calculations to document the approach used.
  6. Any building renewable energy system must be appropriately apportioned based on weighted floor area, leasing agreement, or other contract. Projects must include a narrative with supporting calculations to document the approach used.
  7. The embodied carbon of any shared building renovation that impacts the entire building (like a re-roofing) must be apportioned based on weighted floor area or some other appropriate methodology. Projects must include a narrative with supporting calculations to document the approach used.
  8. To provide a unique identification, the project name must reflect the occupied space and be clearly distinguishable from other CRUs. For example, the project name could include the tenant company’s name or the commercial retail unit identifier.

Note, this exception is not provided for ZCB-Design projects as the design and development of these types of projects are under the control of the developer. Additionally, accurately separating out the expected embodied carbon of the entire structure would be problematic. ZCB-Design projects are still welcome to use the Attached Building allowances already provided within the Standard.

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