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Calgary was the first Canadian municipality to adopt a green building policy in 2003 declaring that all new City buildings—and major renovations to existing ones—are designed to meet or exceed the silver level LEED® rating.

In June 2012, in an effort to assess their efforts, Calgary City Council directed an investigation into the cost/benefit difference between Gold and Silver LEED® built buildings.

They studied four LEED® Gold Certified buildings built between 2005 and 2012 in Calgary to approximate the most probable differences between a LEED® Gold and a LEED® Silver Building and determine a range of net benefits. This cost/benefit analysis was conducted over a period of twenty years, using forecasted electricity, natural gas and water pricing.

Researchers went beyond looking at operational savings related to lower energy and water usage. They also looked at triple bottom line benefits such as the health and well-being of the people who occupied the building as well as the environmental benefits of the buildings. Included in the cost/benefit analysis were:

Social Benefits

  • Enhanced employee productivity
  • Avoided social cost of reduced greenhouse gas emissions

Environmental Benefits

  • Green house gas emission reductions
  • Air contaminant emission reductions
  • Sustainable forestry
  • Storm water runoff reductions

Economic Benefits

  • Energy cost reductions
  • Potable water cost reductions
  • Sewage cost reductions

From a total triple bottom line perspective, the aggregated results of all four buildings studied demonstrated a benefit-cost ratio ranging from 10:1 to 12:1. That is, for every incremental capital dollar invested in a LEED® Gold certified building, between $10 to $12 are achieved in triple bottom line benefits.

Finally, the study concluded that no impacts on the current and future operating and capital budgets are expected if the recommendations contained in the report are accepted. Calgary Alderman John Mar added, “I’m absolutely flabbergasted at the minimal investment to get such a huge return.”

LEED Gold Building Calgary

The Water Center, LEED Gold Certified building in Calgary, Canada