Councillor Andrea Reimer’s “snarky” remark triggers response

Reimer hops aboard a jumbo plane to learn more about “green” initiatives in New York

Andrea Reimer, your somewhat snarky comment on Twitter that if the Urban Development Institute (UDI) is opposed to LEED CERTIFICATION you are even more committed to requiring it, has prompted me to write this note to you.

The reason UDI and many other knowledgeable professionals are concerned with the City’s new proposal to require LEED certification as a condition of rezoning, rather than LEED Equivalency is that it won’t work in a practical way. Please don’t take my word for it…check this out with Heather Tremain or Robert Brown or the Canada Green Building Council or anyone who has had to get a building LEED certified.

Here’s the problem. A rezoning contingent on achieving a LEED Gold Certification will grant extra density. The building can be bigger, or higher. However, the developer and his/her team will not know if the building can be certified until after completion and occupancy…that’s right, after completion and occupancy, when all the building systems have been properly commissioned.

Now what happens if the building does not achieve the requisite requirments through no fault of the developer or the LEED advisor or consultant team?

I know that you have never taken a building through the LEED certification process but I have. I have also heard of countless stories of buildings not being certified at the desired level because a contractor used the wrong glues, or the energy performance was not exactly as the engineers calculated and hoped. Yes, you can over-design, (you can design for Platinum and settle for Gold) but this can be extremely costly and not practical in many instances.

In the case of a normal approval process, it doesn’t really matter if a Platinum building ends up as Gold, or a Gold Building ends up as Silver.. But if a rezoning is contingent on achieving Gold, what happens if in the final analysis this standard is not met?

Do the people on the top few floors have to move out?

If the building achieves Silver, instead of Gold, do just some of the residents have to move out?

The reason that LEED ‘equivalent was workable was that it avoided this possibilty. Please tell me how you address this possibility if the City is requiring certification?

Now, I can hear your Law Department or Sustainability Group say….well, let’s get a performance bond or letter of credit that the developer will forfeit if LEED Gold isn’t achieved. That’s been suggested before.

Well, quite frankly, I and many other developers would rather build in another municipality than risk posting an LC for hundreds of thousands of dollars that may not be returned if our buildings do not comply with the indoor air quality requirements. Especially if the city is also seeking 75% of the rezoning ‘lift’ as a condition of rezoning. But that’s another matter to be discussed.

As a final note, I was one of the original Directors of the Canada Green Building Council…I am a supporter of Green Buildings. But LEED WAS NEVER INTENDED AS A ZONING TOOL. Unless the rules have changed significantly or are going to be changed, I do not see how you can use it as a zoning instrument within the Cambie Corridor

Please review this with your advisors, the sustainability group, and the Deputy City Manager with whom I have shared this concern before. I look forward to your response.

Editor’s Note: It doesn’t merit a full post, but Vision Vancouver just agreed to spend $2,220 tax dollars to send Reimer on an “urban study trip” to New York City. According to the staff report, Reimer “will examine green transportation and economic development initiatives”.

We’re not sure how jumping on a 747 and flying across North America aboard a carbon emitting plane is consistent with “green transportation”? In any event, we hear the shopping is wonderful this time of the year on 5th Ave. Bon voyage!

– Post by Michael Geller. He is a Vancouver based architect, planner, real estate consultant and property developer with four decades’ experience in the public, private and institutional sectors. Follow @michaelgeller or @CityCaucus on Twitter. He also regularly appears every Tuesday on the Bill Good civic affairs panel on @cknw radio in Vancouver.

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  • david hadaway

    Interesting. I’ve long suspected that LEED is compromised by being in many respects a feel good bureaucratic exercise. A shibboleth that creates the illusion of respecting the environment while in many respects doing quite the opposite. An example would be our Olympic Village which, as time goes by, seems to be about as green as a hybrid Hummer.
    A friend who works in a government office told me last week they had just had all their light bulbs replaced again. Not so long ago, of course, the old incandescent bulbs were taken out at some expense to be replaced by energy efficient compact fluorescents. However a new type is now preferred, so out go all the “not so long life as it turns out” bulbs and in goes the new “green” alternative. Whether there is a warm government storeroom containing all these rejects or whether they went into the landfill via “recycling” who knows and who cares?
    A few boxes have been ticked (or checked if you prefer!) while the extra work and production will boost GDP.

  • Julia

    I am all for standards but wow, I wish some of these folks would get a grasp of the real world. You would think they would have learned a thing or two from the Olympic Village – obviously not.
    As for Ms. Reimer’s trip to NY. Never mind the carbon… I am more upset with the presumption that she will still be in office 5 months after the conference to put her new found knowledge to use. It gets even more ridiculous when you realize that the hall pretty much shuts down for the month of August.
    Send staff.

  • Bill

    Actually they have learned from the Olympic Village – consumers will not willingly pay extra for Leeds standard construction. But if you mandate that all construction is Leeds standard, then home buyers will have no choice. Housing costs will go up and everyone will complain about the lack of affordable housing.
    If Vancouver really wanted to get ahead of the curve instead of always lagging then we should abandon this “green” objective. The rest of the world is already heading in that direction and the exploitation of newly discovered shale gas is going to provide inexpensive energy for the foreseeable future.

  • Higgins

    She is not a scientist, a planner, or a professional designer of any kind. Reimer goes to New York on a prescribed agenda. To get some more advice and possibly cash promises from her Bloomberg and Rockfellatio brothers, you know those charitable foundations… (see Mayor’s and aid former trips). They couldn’t send Robertson this time, I know he would have loved the flip-flop. Too much exposure for him, to the elements of our disgust. Oh, and I am sure this Reimer hypocrite is going to plant a dozen of fir trees in the Interior to offset her useless jet voyage. That’s why we have Internet, TV, Video, Live Web,and BOOKS, Lots and lots of books. Right here in Vancouver. If I’ll never hear of this woman, it will be too soon!

  • Steven Forth

    Good post. It seems obvious that LEED was not designed as a zoning tool. How would you encourage the building of more diverse and sustainable buildings in Vancouver?
    Some other time, a post on ways to evolve LEED or alternatives to LEED for Vancouver would be interesting.

  • James

    Andrea Reimer should be ashamed of herself. She preaches the green gospel to all of us little people, then the first opportunity she gets she’s on a plane to New York for a junket. Really now. Is this trip necessary? Does she know the environmental impact of her flight? I don’t buy that she is going to plant trees in New York to offset her carbon footprint. She should cancel her trip, read a few books, and talk to people in New York by Skype. That will not only cost less, it will truly help to save the environment. What a bunch of enviro fraudsters these visionistas are…the whole bunch of them.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Bulldog Forceps
    ‘Reimer reminds me of ‘Narnia’- The Bully, The Witch and The Council Chambers.’
    Yesterday, before this story got posted here,I wrote my first comment on Michael Geller’s Blog:
    “Mental Note to Andrea:’Funny thing is, everyone is an expert when they have no clue what they are talking about.'”
    And on this list of ‘experts’ I include Robertson, Ballem, Aufochs, and most of their Vision brothers; mouth pieces…yes, that, they are.

    I still wouldn’t change a word.
    LEED is a tool for the architect and the developer in general to get higher accolades through ‘points – checked’ on a check list. Period. It creates the impression that there was an extra effort put into the whole process. Bull. A list is still a list.
    It’s like looking at a Restaurant Menu ‘I’ll have a BLT no mayo, lots of onions, baked not fried, thank you very much…428 calories on the dot’ see how it works? And for the ones who work in the field, they know that. Still we use it because it gets the approval, the Planning looks good, as if they have something to do with that,the politicians are salivating only thinking at their next public scolding they will give to the unsuspecting Vancouver dweller.
    You get LEED points by simply having a ‘certified’ LEED pro on your team!
    Go figure.
    If one looks closer to the numbers achieved with this system will find out that the trend is to get the desired category plus one point…or two. Say for that particular project of yours you’ll get to LEED GOLD if you fall in between 45 – 60 points. Well, all you’ll have to do is provide 46 – 47 points and you are Golden. (it stands true for approximately 90% of the projects I looked at), in which the architect have become a LEED Points Chaser to match the Developer’s promise to an Ego-maniacal council with a hard on for the stage and the spotlights.
    Now let me tell you about a Future Hotel Development in Vancouver – close to the BC Place, who’s LEED Gold claim to Fame came through points obtained in the ‘Innovation in Design and Energy Conservation’ in the form of a proposal for doing their overall LAUNDRY … offsite. Some innovation, eh, don’t you think? But that’s a chat for another time. Till then…
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • chris (one of many)

    Every blinkin politician we’ve had for years could have stayed home and had a tele conference about MANY things.
    If I can communicate with my cousins who survived the earthquake in Christchurch, the rebuilding efforts and what I can do to help:
    I SAY:
    Why do politicians have to go anywhere!
    Stay home and do your job here!

  • Michelle

    Nuff said by others.
    # Suzanne Anton (Mayor or Councillor?)
    # Bill McCreery (already nominated)
    # George Affleck
    # Elizabeth Ball
    # Mike Klassen
    # Joe Carangi
    # Sean Bickerton
    # Jason Lamarche
    # Francis Wong
    Let Glissando do YOUR JOB ((to the ones above)!
    It’s unbelievable, Glissando caught this story yesterday (I went to Michael Blog myself and read his commentary) it still boggles my mind that he was not approached by the NPA (in case you weren’t Gliss and/or you don’t want to say if you want to run for the City’s top dog). you’ll make an extraordinary opponent to anyone, let alone Robertson who is Hollyhock plant. Let them split the vote for you. As ‘George’ said it on a different tread, you have no idea how many of us are rooting for you.
    I like your name. You are knowledgeable, and I love your comments/ opinions!

  • Bob

    Its always fun when the mask slips off Vision for a few minutes and you catch a glimpse of the unappealing creature beneath it.

  • RoKeSca

    Oh goodie: more standards, more certification, more hoops, rules, and bylaws too. The only thing sustainable about any of this is maintaining a civic development apparatchiki. Who is certifiying the certifiers?

  • Julia

    This LEEDs standard makes me nervous. I built houses when they got all excited about ‘bagging’ walls to improve energy efficiency and reduce heat loss. Great idea in theory but it created mold, health problems and endless costs to fix.
    Before they start forcing LEEDS standards I would want to be very certain that we are not inviting another Leaky Condo Crisis. Everything I am seeing and reading makes me very uncomfortable.

  • bobh

    Mr Geller used too many big words. Ms Reimer and all of her Vision colleagues appear not to have the intelligence to comprehend Mr Geller’s argument.

  • BA

    Absolutely. I have long suspected Vision Vancouver’s collective attention span is taxed by anything longer than 140 characters.

  • Steven Forth

    Hi Julia – I don’t think LEED suffers the specifc problem you noted – a standard for dry central Canada being (badly) applied to the damp, wet climate of the coast. But your basic point is important. These general standards are often not the right thing for local conditions. We need local ways to adopt standards to make them work for our own environment and economy. One reason I would like to see more power at local jurisdictions.

  • Julia

    you are absolutely correct and politicians are the absolute last people that should be vetting and establishing those standards.

  • Will

    If you have read Green Metropolis by David Owen (highly recommend), you will also know that LEED does not compensate adequately for the massive green benefits of density in areas where residential, office and transportation are plentiful. Why is the City mandating LEED Gold which in turn makes development more expensive when really we should be encouraging more development at lower costs in say downtown areas because this will in turn significantly lower green house gas emissions. Green Metropolis talks lots about LEED platinum developments in the middle of no where and where office workers commuted miles by car to get to this “green oasis”. Any new development in areas with a Walk Score of 90 or greater should be exempt from the silly LEED certification.

  • boohoo

    “Why is the City mandating LEED Gold which in turn makes development more expensive”
    Evidence for that?
    And even if it is true, seems like a poor reason to not do something new or different. Everything is more expensive when it first comes out or is first started. But if it’s a good product or idea, you do it anyway.

  • Max

    This is a bit off topic, but speaks to planning in this city. Videomatic is closing its doors, below is a statement made by the owner. Vancouver Sun, May 7, 2011: (Just as a note, that ‘hairy hippie’ that is referenced is the homeless guy that lives in my alley way.)
    …Videomatica’s closure is part of an ongoing shift in retailers on Fourth Avenue. When Videomatica opened, Fourth was brimming with funky independent shops, like the one run by the hairy hippie who used to sell used clothing outside his store because the inside was packed to the rafters.
    The hippie clothier left in the mid-’90s, and Fourth Avenue is now a street of trendy clothing outlets, yoga stores and high-end bike shops. Many independents have been displaced by chains.
    “I feel the vision for Fourth Avenue should have been modelled on a place like San Francisco: Keep all the old funky houses and put new bunker stores behind them, and at least keep some character and some interest on the street, even if you are a chain store,” said Peat.
    “Instead, we have the concrete boxes, like Granville and Robson. [The street] loses all its charm. Look what we’ve got now: There’s almost no character left. Soon it will all be wireless stores and baby booties.”

  • Birdy

    “But if it’s a good product or idea, you do it anyway.”
    Exactly. To expand, if it’s a good product or idea, you don’t need the government to force people to buy it/submit to it.
    On the other hand, if you see the government forcing a product on citizens, you can be sure it’s a horrible product that people don’t want.

  • Dennis O’Bell

    So if housing becomes even more expensive it’s alright to try it because affordability in Vancouver is no longer a concern?
    We’re not talking about MP3 players made in China.

  • “On the other hand, if you see the government forcing a product on citizens, you can be sure it’s a horrible product that people don’t want.”
    Like seatbelts?

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    Or bike helmets?

  • douglas

    David Hadaway, Glissy and others- good succinct comments about this decade’s darling trend – LEED. And good piece Mr. Geller. LEED is a bureaucracy and a business, not a design philosophy or urban design tool.
    The best way to get builders to build to green standards would be to incorporate green standards into performance-oriented Building Codes and eradicate the trendy marketing garbage that seduces the politicoes while enriching the marketers. (Remember when new condos advertised such features as double-glazed windows – as though it were not code?)
    To make a developer commit so early to what are expensive construction considerations is stupid,and many developers will say yes to the stupid requirements council wants to hear to get the rezoning in place, and try to work themselves out of it later (somewhat par for the development course)

  • Miguel

    Flying coast to coast and back Andrea? This is the least environmental thing that a politician could do. It’s like they’re throwing dinosaur bones out of the tailpipe. A Boeing 767 airliner burns about 1,550 gallons an hour.

  • Steven Forth

    “The best way to get builders to build to green standards would be to incorporate green standards into performance-oriented Building Codes”
    So what green standards do you have in mind?

  • “Or bike helmets?”
    Exactly. Shows how the original blanket statement was nonsense.

  • Max

    Interesting to note that Michael Geller had his name on the list to speak on Cambie Corridor, yet when he got there, his name was gone…..

  • George

    Watching the antics in the Council Chambers yesterday was very telling..
    For anyone that doesn’t have the time to attend council meetings I strongly recommend before you vote next time around watch yesterday’s event.
    The behavior of Raymond Louis and Kerry Jang was despicable. The sarcasm dripped from their voices when speaking to Suzanne Anton. It was uncomfortable to me. It was abusive…
    Kerry Jang should know better that to behave like a bully. Funny he screams about racism,after the McLeans article, teaches psychiatry, is supposed to be the champion of the poor and yet he belittles his colleague publicly and behaves like a child having a tantrum in the grocery store.
    The two of them should be ashamed of their behavior, I felt uncomfortable watching was like watching an abusive spouse bullying in public.
    After yesterday I have no respect for either one of these men.. Bullying at its best!!

  • boohoo

    I’m still looking for evidence that green standards = more expensive.
    But to the bigger picture point–if green standards are something worth pursuing but it is currently more expensive–is it not worth investing in now even if it is more expensive because it’s a good idea?
    New things cost more because they are new/not mass produced/different. Seems like the argument ‘it’s more money so we shouldn’t do it’ is quite close minded.

  • douglas

    I am not a ‘LEED’ expert and don’t have a wealth of green construction knowledge (doubt many do) but I would advocate that buildings be held to performance standards for energy usage, water consumption and the like. The codes are moving away from prescriptive standards (ie must use 1 1/4″ drywall screws at such and such an interval) towards performance-based standards (the drywall to be affixed so it can’t fall off) – this is an overly broad example. I would like to see this trend continued through the stressing of overall building energy performance =. I would let the code committee writers table a myriad of suggestions for industry consultation, with the development industry faced with the knowledge that some of these ideas will be enshrined in the next go-around of the Code.
    Starting point for discussion at any rate….

  • George

    It would behoove Council to listen to Micheal Geller..
    I don’t always agree with him but more often then than not I do.
    He has the right ideas about housing in the OV.. and very practical ideas about how to deal with issues in the DTES.
    His concept of housing subsidy’s in rental housing are very wise. It disperses the concentration of issues.
    “Ghettoize I like to call it”
    Perhaps this is why his name was left off the list… he makes too much sense, therefore he is a problem..
    LOL, what a system we have created..
    ***david hadaway you have touched me with your comment more than you will ever know.. thank you from the bottom of my heart.. you just don’t know how much your comment meant to me.

  • Max

    I have not physically made it to a council meeting but have watched them on-line and or on tv.
    And the bullying by both Jang, Louie and I will toss in Meggs is astounding.
    Priot to Christmas, they held the meeting surrounding the social housing at the Oly Village.
    Some of the housing advocates spoke.
    How they treated them, how they spoke to them like they didn’t have a mind, was embarrassing.
    And I do give kudos to Councilor Anton for having to deal with their crap on a day to day basis.
    One thing I hold onto, the idea that a few Visonistas won’t be back in November.

  • George
  • Max

    Thank you!
    Very good article. I do hope the anti-poverty groups in Vancouver remember all the broken promises put out by Vision.

  • Bill

    “I’m still looking for evidence that green standards = more expensive.”
    If green standards were not more expensive developers would have already adopted them as it would give them a point of difference yet enable the developer to sell the unit at the same price as a non green unit. Look no further than the Olympic village for an example of more expensive and not saleable at the price needed to recover all costs.

  • boohoo

    The OV is a horrible example with all the political bs that surrounds it.
    Maybe green building is more expensive. Maybe it’s not. I’m just asking for evidence when someone states that it is as a fact.
    Maybe it’s short term costs for long term savings. Developers might say it costs them more but might save the purchaser in the long term? I don’t know.
    My bigger point was if green building/more sustainable practice is what we want to pursue–then let’s do it.
    As an interesting side, check out what the province is doing to encourage people to stop smoking. Many parallels here.

  • douglas

    @ boo ” if green building/more sustainable practice is what we want to pursue–then let’s do it.” You are on the right track IMO.
    This comes down to enshrining certain practices in the building codes, which has advantages. Building Codes are very much social documents, and have morphed over time to encompass (imperfectly to be sure) societal goals – a perfect example being handicap access. Not long ago this was something disabled people fought for – now we have it enshrined in the Codes and Bylaws (imperfectly – but they are there). Developers accept this change.
    Green building can be done the same way – and the LEED consultants and marketing strategies can then whither away.

  • George

    The smoking cessation aids program confuses me..
    Say a pack of cigarettes is $10.00×7 days a week… $70.00 weekly
    Total cost for 12 weeks cessation aids $350.00 as reported in this article.
    12×70.00= $840.00
    Since you won’t be smoking when you put on a patch.. you can’t or you will have a hear attack!! Why do we need the government to pay for the smoking cessation aids..
    Smoking is legal and is taxed…
    So on the other hand we allow dope smoking and injection sites, and give free needles, and hire lots of staff at union wages…. but we have very few treatment options. Or my personal favorite have “volunteers” run self help groups while paid staff take a break… never understood that one.
    We enable to the tune of millions of dollars a day in the DTES but how much is put into “real treatment”..Pot smoke wafts everywhere in this city. That can’t be good for children’s lungs… second hand smoke etc.. Theft and property crime for drugs, medical costs, policing….
    So how does this make sense or how can we justify this.. with a clear conscience..
    This is just insanity!!

  • Max

    Hi George;
    It is an attempt to slow down the long term medical costs of smokers.
    According to the current records, it costs the BC medical system $2.7 billion dollars annually to treat smoking related illnesses. (current estimates is 550,000 smokers in BC)
    I know that some companies through extended medical plans do get the smoking cessation aids covered off.
    I read in one of the reports that if they raise the tax by once cent per cigarette, it will cover the cost of this program. And supposedly, the success rates are good.

  • George

    Yes but Max people can use the cigarette money to buy patches…the entitlement theory again…
    Yes it does cost the medical system billions…. how much does the lack of treatment cost for addicts.. everything factored in. Million dollars daily in DTES alone, in wages and programs to enable….medical costs for the rapid breakdown of their health.
    I believe that treatment should be mandatory…it is illegal to shoot up heroin/crack etc. If you are high in public, there are consequences..
    To me in the big picture I would pick drug treatment over cigarette cessation.
    Except for folks on welfare or disability. There was a program 4 years ago, a test pilot by the government.
    People on disability were given the opportunity to get the patches, and the online assistance from
    Your patches were delivered, you weren’t given the cash (great idea).
    You received a water bottle, mints, a hand squeeze thing for stress.
    I actually spoke to Health Canada during the process.. each month since I get a certificate from with a calculation of how much money I’ve saved… I’ve been smoke free for just over 4 years. My cash savings is over $13,300.00 seriously.. where did I get that kind of money…oh yeh, it is now in my big old belly.
    I’m probably being difficult here, due to my homeless friend… but perhaps the government will announce a big cash infusion into in-house treatment for drug addiction as well… one can only hope.

  • chris (one of many)

    In-house treatment?
    Depends what you mean, George

  • George

    chris (one of many)
    I think the more I see and the more I speak to people with addictions, they all want out of the DTES. But they have no where else to go. I’ve yet to talk to an addict that doesn’t laugh their a**es off at Insite…it is just a safe house to sit down and shoot up. Freebies…
    I think there should be abstinence based treatment within a facility. Easy for me to say I’ve never done hard drugs, don’t drink, and thankfully AGT talked me out of a 30 year pot addiction.
    Narc anon meetings then going back to a SRO filled with addicts defeats the purpose. I think the government should investigate the possibility of out of town facilities, or on farmland,a medical/treatment environment.
    Medical detox, then a work related recovery. In a facility with levels. Each level gears you towards re-entering society, and freedom. I’m talking about hard core addicts, the ones that really can’t take care of themselves. We’ve all seen someone like that on the streets, the fact that they are living n an alley is a pretty good indicator.
    The prize at the end of the treatment, a guarantee of housing maybe a job…NOT in the DTES NOT in a SRO, Not in a crammed building with low income people that are untreated..maybe not even in Vancouver, but a fresh start at a real life.
    Consequences for relapse. I think we have lost sight of the fact that doing drugs at this point in time is illegal in Canada. If you get arrested for drugs, automatic forced treatment in a facility…not jail, a treatment facility. I think we should bring back the Vagrancy Act.
    Train people to work with addicts, not just hire someone that knows someone, to babysit in a drop n facility at union wages, all day serving free coffee…actually treat the disease.
    Give police the power to make the arrests…
    I don’t really have the answers chris…but what I do have is experience. My brother almost lost his life to drugs when he was a young man. Thankfully he met a good woman,that loved him unconditionally, she helped set him free..just by loving him…

  • Dennis O’Bell

    I’m still looking for evidence that green standards = more expensive.
    But to the bigger picture point–if green standards are something worth pursuing but it is currently more expensive–is it not worth investing in now even if it is more expensive because it’s a good idea?
    New things cost more because they are new/not mass produced/different. Seems like the argument ‘it’s more money so we shouldn’t do it’ is quite close minded.

    I’m not sure how that evidence could be presented. Post mortem audit to pro forma comparisons maybe?
    Having spoken with a local area planner, their general impression was that it was more expensive, Michael Geller above indicates the higher certification you try and achieve the more expensive it gets. Perhaps others with development experience could weigh in here as it’s not my field even though I’m exposed to it.
    LEED is evaluated based on design, construction and systems maintenance over time; not just materials.
    To your bigger picture, I would say yes theoretically. Extrapolated further, what is doable?
    If let’s say it is more expensive, additional costs would be passed down to the purchaser or renter as it becomes a matter of what the market could bear. The bank will not cashflow the construction loan if there isn’t sufficient presales deposits to indicate a sufficient market.
    So while it may seem to be the right thing to do, if it’s more expensive to build than what pre-sales indicate there is a market for, the bank’s minimum financing criteria may not be met which means there may not be a building.
    Is that closed minded? I don’t think abstract characterizations apply to down payment amounts.
    In any case, Michael Geller’s point was that rezoning cannot be made contingent on LEED certification since LEED can’t be certified till after occupancy.

  • Dennis O’Bell

    Sorry I hope the formatting on my last post doesn’t read too confusing.
    I misplaced the closing italicize html tag on quoting boohoo.

  • douglas

    excellent points – there is a fly in ointment though-
    “Michael Geller’s point was that rezoning cannot be made contingent on LEED certification since LEED can’t be certified till after occupancy.”
    You are only partially correct. LEED cannot be certified until after occupancy.
    However, a municipality can (and some are) asking for a list of green initiatives proposed up front as a condition of rezoning. I am going through this currently on a project in another much smaller BC jurisdiction – township of Esquimalt.
    Rezoning is discretionary – and the developer is at the mercy of the council, public reaction and staff support. The municipality I am currently working developing the proposal for is asking up front for all rezoning applicants to provide a list of proposed green initiatives consistent with either LEED or ‘Built Green’ – it has been their council policy since 09/ 2007.
    Since rezoning is discretionary, a municipality can ask for whatever it wants to try to extract from the developer, even if that means trying to get the developer to commit up front to items we won’t be specifying until several years down the line.
    There are a number of problems inherent with the scenario, and their staff have been apprised of them. However it is the reality being faced. Vancouver is not the only jurisdiction conducting itself this way. It may not be logical or prudent, but get used to it. Councillors are going to push this agenda, and if rezoning is contingent on the talking big on green, that’s how the proposals likely will be tailored to garner the approval.

  • Bill

    The Green Revolution has driven a lot of initiatives and there was no time to spare because the future of civilization depended on immediate action. Carbon became synonymous with pollution and anything that reduced the carbon footprint was good.
    Accordingly, the Provincial Government mandated that all public institutions be carbon neutral and if they weren’t, had to make a payment to Pacific Carbon Trust who would make grants to organizations whose projects reduced carbon emissions. The estimated cost to the Vancouver School Board this year is in the order of $400,000. One of the recipients of a grant is Encana Corp. I have nothing against Encana but it is absurd that they are effectively receiving money from the VSB that should be spent on education.
    We need to stop and reassess exactly why we are undertaking specific “green initiatives” or else we will have more of these absurd unintended consequences. Other jurisdictions who have already suffered these unintended consequences are reassessing their programs. We need to do the same.

  • Andrea Reimer’s uninformed comment should not be all that surprising, especially if you’ve attended many Council meetings. The level of understanding demonstrated by the Vision Council members, including the Mayor, is shocking. They frequently ask staff questions they should know as part of their basic knowledge, or have the answers before they get to the Chamber.
    After 3, or in some cases 6 or 9 years on Council, one would think they’d have a basic understanding of how the financial side of the development process works. Nope.
    This, one of an ongoing series of similar examples, makes it quite clear that Councillor Reimer is not qualified to go to New York on her “green initiatives” fact finding mission. Based on what I’ve observed, she doesn’t have the basic knowledge to be able to understand what she’ll be hearing and seeing.

  • Dennis O’Bell

    That’s interesting Douglas and thanks for the clarification. Asking for some kind of performance commitment before something even exists? Wow! It seems like a tall order.
    How do completion guarantors sit with that? Who (or what) is driving the push you describe and why do you think that is?
    Glad to hear that novel idea of public input is being taken into consideration in the municipality you are working in. In Vancouver between our developers, planning department and current council, we’re not so lucky!

  • douglas

    Tall order? Somewhat absurd order in some ways actually. I sit in front of a 60 point ‘green checklist’ and 3 of every 4 items is either ‘not applicable’ or ‘cannot confirm at this time’ – which won’t endear the project to council but will in fact be the honest truth.
    There is an entire section of the checklist devoted to whether the plumbing fixtures specified exceed code. How do I know what toilets and faucets we plan to spec at rezoning stage???????
    And on it goes…..

  • George

    ‘do I know what toilets and faucets we plan to spec at rezoning stage??????? ”
    this jumps out for me.. correct me if I’m wrong here.
    Didn’t the OV have a system where rainwater was to be collected and used to flush the toilets…and didn’t I hear recently that the system has now had to be hooked up to the cities water system..due to issues..

  • douglas

    Sorry George but I honestly wouldn’t know. Anyone else out there????

  • Not sure, but I do know that when I used the facilities at the OV Community centre on while attending Planning’s community planning workshop on Saturday I was surprised to see the bowl filled with a very dark yellow-brown water (hopefully) which I eventually convinced myself must be “brown” water. This liquid did not have any appearance of having any City of Vancouver labeled H2O mixed in, so I assume the “brown” water system is alive and well at least at the OV CC.