7.          GREEN BUILDING PROMOTION PROGRAM UPDATE AND REVISED PILOT PROGRAM

 

MISE À JOUR SUR LE PROGRAMME DE PROMOTION DES IMMEUBLES ÉCOLOGIQUES ET PROJET PILOTE MODIFIÉ

 

 

Committee recommendation

 

That Council approve the revised Green Building Pilot Program as described in this report.

 

 

Recommandation DU Comité

 

Que le Conseil approuve le programme pilote d'immeubles écologiques modifié, tel qu’il est décrit dans le présent rapport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Documentation

 

1.                  Deputy City Manager’s report, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability dated 16 April 2009 (ACS2009-ICS-CSS-0001).

 


Report to/Rapport au :

 

Planning and Environment Committee

Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement

 

and Council / et au Conseil

 

April 16, 2009 / le 16 avril 2009

 

Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe,

Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability/Services d’infrastructure et Viabilité des collectivités 

 

Contact Person/Personne-ressource : Carol Christensen, Manager/Gestionnaire, Environmental Sustainability/Durabilité de l’environnement, Community Sustainability Services/Services de viabilité des collectivités

(613) 580-2424 x21610, Carol.Christensen@ottawa.ca

 

City Wide/à l'échelle de la Ville

Ref N°: ACS2009-ICS-CSS-0001

 

 

SUBJECT:

GREEN BUILDING PROMOTION PROGRAM UPDATE AND revised pilot program

 

 

OBJET :

MISE À JOUR SUR LE PROGRAMME DE PROMOTION DES IMMEUBLES ÉCOLOGIQUES ET PROJET PILOTE MODIFIÉ

 

 

REPORT RECOMMENDATION

 

That Planning and Environment Committee recommend that Council approve the revised Green Building Pilot Program as described in this report.

 

RECOMMANDATION DU RAPPORT

 

Que le Comité de l’urbanisme et de l’environnement recommande au Conseil d’approuver le programme pilote d'immeubles écologiques modifié, tel qu’il est décrit dans le présent rapport.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Green Building Promotion Program as originally presented to Committee and Council in 2008 consists of four components:

 

 

Three of these measures have been approved with the Pilot Program referred back for further consultation and program definition with the following motion:

 

WHEREAS the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) promotion pilot program includes three Green Pathway LEED Pilot Projects; and

WHEREAS the staff report indicates that further consultation will occur with stakeholders around this aspect of the program and some questions have been raised regarding the need for a City contribution to these pilot projects;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that component three of the pilot program, the Green pathway LEED Pilot projects, be deferred pending additional consultation with stakeholders and a further report to Planning and Environment Committee and Council with details and recommendations on the pilot project component.

 

This report provides a brief update on the progress of several components of the program as well as a proposed revised pilot program.

 

DISCUSSION

 

Green buildings have many benefits and can result in reduced demand on municipal infrastructure for servicing, transportation, and energy.  They can also make a major contribution to meeting City environmental objectives, and overall community sustainability.  Green buildings use fewer resources, are healthier, and reduce the overall environmental footprint of the buildings sector.  The City Strategic Plan includes encouraging LEED in the private sector as a priority and this program is an important component of the broader effort to improve community sustainability and implement the Council approved Environmental Strategy and Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan.

 

For example, 58 per cent of the community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Ottawa can be attributed to energy use in the building sector so efforts to reduce the footprint and resource consumption of the building sector is a critical component of any GHG reduction strategy.  It has been suggested that improvements in energy use in existing and new buildings are one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to reduce GHG emissions.  These benefits were discussed in more detail in the original report to Committee (ACS2008-PTE-ECO-0005).

 

Green building and use of integrated environmental design and rating systems such as LEED (as a design tool if not an actual certification process) are increasingly seen as good business.  The benefits in terms of productivity, reduced operating costs, and market advantage in terms of lease and resale values are proving to be greater than the initial additional capital cost.  It is therefore difficult to justify simple subsidies or direct financial incentives for simply building LEED projects. In fact, green building and use of systems such as LEED will not continue to expand if there is not a business case.   The challenge is in determining what the most constructive role is for the City to play in helping to grow the industry and acknowledge the public benefits of these projects. 

 

Green buildings reduce City infrastructure costs, provide some indirect public benefits depending on the technologies/measures used, and further City design objectives depending on the measures or credits obtained. The City has a direct interest in some green building measures.  While all green building measures such as internal air quality are of interest to the City in terms of quality of life and residents’ health, some measures have a direct bearing on City infrastructure responsibilities and capital spending.  In some cases, green building measures on a cumulative basis will save the City infrastructure dollars.  These include measures related to:

 

·    Reduction of construction waste and provisions for recycling.

·    Encouraging walking, cycling and transit use.

·    Potable water efficiency and conservation.

·    Reduced stormwater run-off.

·    Reduced energy consumption.

 

These types of benefits have been at the core of municipal efforts to promote and encourage green building in the private sector. Many municipalities are exploring the challenge of exactly how to encourage green building in the private sector.  In Ontario, limits on what individual municipalities can do in a regulatory sense to require certain building measures (i.e. exceed the Building Code or require use of certain material or renewable energy technologies) reduce potential options.

 

The original staff report outlined some of these efforts in other municipalities.  Since that report, there has been continued growth in green building promotion programs.  For example, the Region of York has now established a program that provides additional servicing credits to projects which achieve specific sustainability objectives in areas such as water conservation and waste diversion as well as meet a LEED silver certification standard.  In the U.S., additional municipalities such as San Francisco have used their authority to pass ordinances requiring certain construction to meet LEED or equivalent standards.

 

In Ottawa, green building and use of rating systems (whether LEED in the ICI sector or R2000, Energy Star, or LEED for homes in the low rise residential sector) continue to increase. Environmental performance, particularly energy efficiency, is now prominently featured in development promotion in the residential sector.  There are currently 34 LEED registered projects in Ottawa, along with other green building projects that have not formally registered for LEED. Recent accomplishments in Ottawa include the new Rideau Valley Conservation headquarters and the new CUPE national headquarters, both of which achieved the LEED Gold standard in 2008, and the Minto South Merivale Business Park - Phase One which became LEED certified in 2009.  Details on LEED projects can be found at http://www.cagbc.org/leed/leed_projects.  There is also a very active chapter of the Canada Green Building Council in Ottawa. 

 

The City continues to help show the way through the City Green Building Policy for construction of new City facilities and have a number of projects using LEED at various stages.  The Ottawa Paramedic Headquarters was the first LEED certified building in Ottawa and several completed projects, including the Vars Fire Station and the Goulbourn Recreation Centre, are awaiting final word on LEED level achieved.

 

The City does have a direct role to play as an approvals authority under the Planning Act. Any measures the City can take to ensure that green building projects are dealt with efficiently would be beneficial.  Other municipalities have created “green” approvals streams with either expedited approvals processes or special approvals “teams” to address more innovative green building projects, and these measures are mentioned frequently as obvious high value incentive approaches. Discussions with developers who have completed green building and LEED projects in Ottawa have emphasized this area as one in which the City could focus efforts. As a result, measures related to this role have been explicitly incorporated into the various program components.

 

The four promotion activities recommended in the original report reflect both activities and measures adopted in other municipalities and suggested in broader studies of potential incentive measures, and the circumstances in the City of Ottawa with respect to resources and mandate.

 

Sustainable Design Checklist

 

The sustainable design checklist is designed to provide a way to both track and monitor incorporation of sustainable or green building design measures into site and building design, and as a template to encourage discussion with proponents early in the design process about these measures and the sustainability objectives included in Annex 3 (Design Framework) of the Official Plan. It is meant as a simple checklist which focuses on some key green building and sustainable design measures from a City perspective.

 

A draft checklist has now been prepared and reviewed internally.  The next step in the process is to review the checklist with the development community and test its application on several development proposals. 

 

Official Plan Policies

 

Proposed Official Plan changes have now been released for public review.  Sustainable design provisions include:

 

·    enabling policies with respect to site plan and zoning and sustainable design measures for building exteriors,

·    further guidance on sustainable design measures and objectives including use of building rating systems  and measures such as green roofs, and

·    additional direction and more explicit enabling policies for renewable energy installations.

 

These provisions will continue to be discussed and refined through the Official Plan review process.

 

Promotion activities will be developed as individual components of the program develop. In particular, success stories, best practices information, and cost benefit information which emerge from the pilot projects will be promoted through the City web site and public sessions.  Activities to promote market awareness and consumer education will also be examined.

 

Revised Green Building Pilot Program

 

Additional consultation has been completed with the green building community on the pilot program component including several meetings and the circulation of a revised proposal.

 

The main suggestions emerging from these discussions for the pilot program include:

 

·    A clearer articulation of the objectives of the program.

·    More direct support and training for staff on green building measures to provide increased awareness and comfort levels with green building and measures across the City amongst City staff involved in the review and approvals process.

·    A more focussed effort on green building measures which are of interest to the City (largely those impacting City infrastructure requirements and GHG reductions).

·    Any financial contributions should be directed towards measures which assist the City in assessing the municipal role, target priority measures from a City perspective, or assist segments of the market which have a particular challenges in building green such as affordable or assisted housing, rather than simply building to a LEED standard. LEED is just one building rating system and is a means to an end. Other building rating systems such as Green Globes should be considered.  City should be focussing on environment performance in key areas as opposed to a rating system per se.

·    It should include a broader examination of green building measures to capture the full range of potential municipal actions rather than focus only on a limited number of actual pilot projects.

·    More emphasis on getting information that could be used by the City, as a more independent source (as compared to a project proponent) of information, to promote the benefits of green building in the community.

·    It is important to recognize that green building rating systems and design in general are based on estimates of building performance, not verified performance.  In addition, the actual rating level achieved is not generally confirmed until construction is complete.

·    It should result in specific suggestions back to Council on components of an ongoing program which will move the yardsticks for green building in Ottawa.

·    While new construction (the focus of this initiative) is important, the importance addressing the existing building stock which represents the vast majority of buildings that will continue to provide housing or ICI use for the next 30 years should not be lost.

 

Some of these comments relate directly to the form of the pilot program, while others identify issues, such as how to address verification of building performance if incentives are provided, that would need to be explored in the context of the pilot program and suggested ongoing measures.  Out of these discussions the idea of an ongoing Green Building Working Group emerged, consisting of developers and experts working in the field, to provide advice on an ongoing basis through the pilot program and any subsequent measures or programs.  To address these concerns and suggestions, a revised Pilot Program description is provided below.

 

Overall, the purpose of the pilot program component is to build knowledge and capacity to address green building proposals within the development approvals process, and identify the most constructive and cost-effective role for the City to play in encouraging green building. The ultimate goal is to continually increase the number of green building, including LEED, projects in the private sector, particularly those that provide public benefits and reduce demand on City infrastructure. 

 

It is proposed that the pilot program component of the green building promotion initiative have the following core objectives:

 

·    Create and foster an integrated approvals process which provides a high level of service to, and awareness/understanding of, green building projects.

·    Identify and recommend specific measures to assist or promote green building measures that are of particular interest to the City, and have proven to be more challenging to obtain, in the context of experience in other areas and actual projects in Ottawa, and examine options for the City to assist in increasing environmental performance in those areas. 

·    Promote green building in the broader building community by compiling and disseminating a high level analysis of costs and benefits for green building projects, lessons learned, setting possible targets for green building construction in Ottawa, and promoting green building success stories in the community.

·    Recommend an overall ongoing program and constructive role for the City to play in promoting and assisting green building projects, and improving uptake and market penetration of green building measures and integrated green design processes, as promoted through building rating systems such as use of the LEED, in the City.

 

Ultimately, the City should become known as one of the most supportive places to "build green" in Ontario and Canada.  While recognizing the business case and responsibility of the private sector to continue to improve environmental performance in the building sector, the City should explore and assess a full range of options for constructive municipal actions to assist this performance improvement.

 

It is proposed that the pilot program begin this process with the following actions organized around the core objectives.

 

Objective 1:

 

Create and foster an integrated approvals process which  provides a high level of service to, and awareness/understanding of green building projects.

 

This requires both awareness and capacity amongst city staff involved in the design and development review process of green design measures, and an examination of the approvals process to assess the potential for facilitating green building through procedural changes.

Actions:

 

·    Organize green building training including LEED training workshops for City staff.

·    Focus on an integrated development approvals process for any green building projects initiated over the life of the pilot project and complete an assessment of value added and costs and challenges involved in the approach.  This will include a facilitated approvals workshop for each project to review the green building design and approvals components. City staff will gain greater insight into the opportunities and challenges involved in green building projects through more direct focus on the green building components.

 

This work is particularly timely given the current realignment of the approvals process to provide an integrated one-window approach.  In general, the normal approvals process is moving towards a more integrated and one window approach which mirrors the integrated design process used in any good green building project.  Focussing on actual projects will allow development and assessment of green building approval challenges and opportunities. The pilot will explore such value added measures as working towards having a LEED AP (accredited professional) available in each geographic approvals area to lead, facilitate, and act as a champion for the green building approvals, and approval workshops focussed on the green design components.

Over time, Ottawa should become known for providing the highest level of service possible (given resource and legislative requirements) for green building projects at all stages of the approvals process.

 

Objective 2:

 

Identify and recommend specific measures to assist or promote green building measures (such as LEED credits) that are of particular interest to the City, and have proven to be more challenging to obtain, in the context of experience in other areas and actual projects in Ottawa, and examine options for the City to assist in increasing environmental performance in those areas. 

 

Measures, or performance levels for measures, which are of particular interest to the City could include:

 

·    Waste diversion (greater than 60 per cent)

·    Reduction in potable water use (greater than 30 per cent)

·    Reduction in energy use (greater than 40 per cent)

·    Meeting the urban heat island reduction requirement through a green roof or surface treatment.

·    Including renewable energy.

·    Meeting the storm water management requirements through innovative stormwater management techniques.

 

The pilot project will review options through a combination of reviewing proposed measures with new applications which are pursuing green building or LEED certification through an integrated design process, reviewing past green building efforts in the City, and examining progress in other jurisdictions.  Each of the measures noted above would be examined in terms of performance levels achieved and resources would be available to complete additional independent analysis of feasibility or cost benefits of measures required to achieve high levels of environmental performance in an Ottawa context. 

 

This will include:

 

A review of typical measures and performance levels achieved in green building in Ottawa to date (benchmarking)

 

Reviewing specific examples from elsewhere that address specific incentives in a municipal setting.

 

Tracking new green building projects in terms of the measures.  For each performance measure identified, specific actions that could be taken by the City to encourage higher levels of environmental performance on a consistent basis will be reviewed.  These could include:

 

·    Potential changes in municipal standards to facilitate/accommodate higher performance in those areas (e.g. stormwater management policy).

·    Potential changes in regulations within the authority of the municipality to improve environmental performance (e.g. new provisions under the Planning Act for sustainable measures in site plan/building exteriors).

·    Potential recommendations to other levels of government with respect to actions which are beyond the mandate of the municipality.

·    Dissemination of independent technical information on feasibility of measures in the Ottawa area, and cost benefits. (e.g. green roofs, impermeable surfaces, renewable energy).

·    Assistance in educating the public or consumer to improve market acceptance.

·    Potential connections between environmental performance measures and required investment in infrastructure with an eye to identifying potential ways to recognize (financially or otherwise) the contribution to reduced infrastructure expenses or broader public benefits.

 

Recommendations on ongoing measures will need to be supported by cost estimates and performance measurement strategies.

 

At least one of the projects involved should be an affordable/social housing initiative, as well as a low-rise residential initiative.  To encourage a social housing project, there would be design assistance available to a maximum of $15,000 in recognition of the difficulty in obtaining up-front design dollars to pursue extra green design/certification expenses in non-profit or social housing projects.

 

LEED for homes Canada has also just been released by the CaGBC.  It now adds to the low-rise options which includes systems such as R2000 and Energy Star, and expands on the range of sustainable design measures considered.  There will be some focus on looking at measures to encourage green design in the low-rise sector which has already shown leadership in the use of standards such as R2000 and Energy Star, but is now beginning to examine broader environmental design approaches such as represented in LEED for homes.

 

As green building projects and measures are identified in the pilot program, potential partners for specific components such as building research agencies, industry and trade associations, and energy providers will be sought based on the measure being addressed.

 

Objective 3:

 

Promote green building in the broader building community by compiling and disseminating a high level analysis of costs and benefits for green building projects, lessons learned, setting possible targets for green building construction in Ottawa and promoting green building success stories in the community.

 

Projects and progress will be tracked through an independent consultant with expertise in sustainable design and LEED.  A report prepared through the pilot project stage will:

 

·    Identify barriers and solutions to green building in Ottawa.

·    Provide a high-level cost/benefit estimate of building green in Ottawa.

·    Recommend cost-effective ongoing measures that will have the greatest impact on promoting green building.

 

The consultant will also participate in a workshop to convey results and identify future measures.

 

 

Objective 4

 

Recommend an overall ongoing program and constructive role for the City to play in promoting and assisting green building projects, and improving uptake and market penetration of green building measures and integrated green design processes, as promoted through building rating systems such as LEED, in the City.

 

At the conclusion of the pilot project, a report will be presented to Council with specific recommendations for any actions required to support an ongoing program.  This report will be a joint effort of staff, participants in the pilot program, the green building advisory group and the independent consultant involved in Objective 3.

 

Ongoing Activities

 

There will be several steps/activities to provide general support to the pilot project and ongoing promotion of green buildings.  In the context of the pilot program, the City will:

 

·    Create an ongoing advisory group of green building experts to help guide the project,

·    Convene a multi-stage workshop for developers to review concerns and challenges with green projects, advise on components of the pilot project in more detail, review results and recommendations for ongoing measures,

·    Review selected municipal standards and regulations that are critical components of green approvals, and

·    Examine the approvals process to assess measures to provide enhanced service for green building projects.

 

Finally, potential measures to improve environmental performance in the existing building stock also need attention.  It is proposed that this be the subject of a future report to Planning and Environment Committee in the fall of 2009.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS

 

The environmental benefits of building green are outlined within this report and report ACS2008-PTE-ECO-0005.  These benefits will be realized largely through any recommendations and ongoing program which emerge from the pilot program.  However, there will be some specific environmental benefits associated with the pilot projects themselves. The general promotion of green building measures and corporate learning inherent in the pilot project program will have positive environmental implications as the profile of green building in Ottawa increases, and the capacity of the City to help facilitate and address challenges related to green building measures increases.

 

RURAL IMPLICATIONS

 

There are no specific rural implications associated with the revised pilot project proposal.  While LEED and other sustainable design rating systems can be applied to rural projects, to date the private LEED projects in Ottawa have tended to be in the urban serviced area.

 

CONSULTATION

 

Additional consultation has occurred since report ACS2008-PTE-ECO-0005 was considered at Council.  The original green building promotion program was presented to and received endorsement from the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), and the revised approach was also provided to EAC.  The revised program has been discussed and circulated to those that have commented on the original program (e.g., Ottawa Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council who have endorsed the program) as well as some additional "green builders" in Ottawa and members of the Board of EnviroCentre, and the environment committee of the Ottawa Homebuilders Association.  Potential partnership organizations such as the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Ottawa Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council, and industry associations will be approached to assist with various components and partner where appropriate to leverage additional resources as the program develops.

 

Further consultation on the details of the program will occur with the proposed Green Building Advisory Group and the development community in general as the specifics of the program are finalized.  Throughout the pilot project period, there will be consultations on development of ongoing promotion or incentive possibilities.

 

LEGAL/RISK MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS:

 

Given that this represents a pilot program designed to gain learning and insight at the City level on green building challenges in Ottawa, there are no known legal/risk management implications.  Any recommendations for ongoing promotion activities or programs emerging from the pilot project will be assessed in this regard as they are brought forward for the consideration of Committee and Council. 

 

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

 

Funds are available in the Capital Budget, Order Number 904643: Leadership in Energy and Environment for the proposed pilot program, totalling $240,000.

 

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

 

N/A

 

DISPOSITION

 

If approved, staff in the Community Sustainability department will initiate the pilot program in partnership with other appropriate branches and continue with the ongoing development of other components of the green building promotion program.