Effective January 1, 2011 all new rezonings in the City of Vancouver (the City) must be to a LEED Gold NC (New Construction) or equivalent standard. Buildings that are not eligible to meet the LEED Gold NC standard must meet either the Built Green BC or LEED Gold for Homes standard. The LEED Gold NC rezoning requirement will not apply to buildings which are subject to heritage revitalization agreements.

In full, LEED NC stands for "LEED Canada for New Construction and Major Renovations". LEED NC was designed for application to office buildings, and has been used in a variety of applications such as institutional buildings, schools, hotels, multi-unit residential buildings and mixed-use projects. The NC standard addresses design and construction activities for new buildings and major renovations. It does not address the on-going maintenance or efficiency of the buildings beyond the time the designation is awarded. LEED NC essentially states that, on the date the NC designation was awarded, the building was in compliance with the applicable standard.

The new City LEED Gold rezoning policy does not require that buildings achieve a LEED Gold NC rating; however, applicants must complete the required documentation and commit to pursuing the LEED Gold NC standard.

Specific requirements set out in the rezoning policy are:

  1. the applicant must commit to building, designing and constructing a building that enables it to achieve the LEED Gold NC standard or, where applicable, the relevant alternative. The applicant will also be required to demonstrate to the City that its project is on track to be compliant with the LEED Gold NC standard at the development permit, building permit and occupancy permit stages;  
  2. to receive a development permit, the applicant must register its project for LEED Gold NC certification with the relevant certifying body; and  
  3. the applicant must submit all documentation and fees necessary to achieve certification of the project within six months of achieving occupancy. Proof of submission must be provided to the City.  

The City has suggested that submissions concerning the commitment to design, build and construct a LEED Gold NC building will include:  

  1. submission of a sustainable design strategy at the development permit stage. This strategy will indicate which credits the applicant intends to pursue and how these credits will be achieved. Strategies to achieve credits must be incorporated into the drawings submitted for the project;  
  2. proof of registration with the certifying body;  
  3. updates to the sustainable design strategy at the various permitting stages (full energy modelling must be submitted at the building permit stage); and
  4. submission of a compliance report at the occupancy permit stage showing how each proposed credit was addressed in construction and the applicant's opinion as to the success of achieving each credit.

As this is a new initiative, City planning staff must report back to City council after completion of the first five rezonings under the new policy. To help facilitate the transition, City council has also directed that staff and industry meet at least once per year to discuss implementation or other complications arising from the policy change.

The City estimates increased costs of approximately $16,500 per unit (for units with a selling price of $400,000). Approximately 80% of the increased costs are attributable to higher energy efficiency requirements.

The Canada Green Building Council (the CaGBC) is the current certifying body for projects seeking a LEED certification. As the interest in LEED has increased dramatically over the past several years, there is currently a backlog of applications with the CaGBC. However, it is estimated that certifications will process in approximately 13 weeks once the backlog is resolved. Effective 2012, certifications will be transitioned from the CaGBC to the Green Building Institute. The Green Building Institute is an international arm'slength organization with local staff in Vancouver.

Developers may be audited under this new policy; however, it is City council's intention that the more buildings a developer constructs in accordance with this standard, the less frequently the developer should be audited.