Just as owners begin to take possession of their new homes at Radius in the heart of Calgary’s inner-city community of Bridgeland, they can revel in the fact that they are living in the most environmentally sustainable and healthy mid-rise residential building in the city. The 201-suite, seven-storey concrete has recently earned the most prestigious environmental ranking in the country — LEED Platinum certification. But that is only the beginning of the accolades.
“Radius is the first mid-rise residential project on the Prairies to achieve the designation and that is a huge achievement,” says Tyler Hermanson, director and senior consultant at the Calgary-based, 4 Elements Integrated Design Ltd., LEED Green Raters which conducted the third-party verification for the project’s LEED Certification.
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification process is rigorous and involves independent, third-party verification.
Led by the Canada Green Building Council and based on a points system — the more points earned, the higher the rating — LEED’s goal is to positively impact the future of the urban landscape, as well as the country’s carbon footprint.
The brainchild of Vancouver-based Bucci Developments, Radius offers stellar site-specific design, from orientation on the lot to a coveted location steps from transit, bike paths, and the amenities of Bridgeland.
But LEED designation is not just about location and passive features. Before a project can even be considered for the LEED certification process program, minimum requirements must be met, including good energy efficiency and ventilation, as well as radon protection that goes far above and beyond what is set out in the minimum requirements of building code.
Buildings must be designed and built using green building strategies targeting excellence in human and environmental health. Key areas include location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Mike Bucci, vice-president of Bucci Developments, notes that Radius’ design focus was not on “the esoteric fluffy intangibles of environmentals,” but rather on the elements that touch day-to-day living — low energy costs, healthy fresh air, and a durable building that will require minimal maintenance.
Solar panels were added to the mix, upping Radius’ already high level of energy efficiency.
“We want our homeowners and ourselves to be satisfied that our buildings are future-proofed and that they are meeting the needs of environmental sustainability,” says Bucci.
And that goal is becoming easier as the cost of solar continues to decrease.
“When we first began planning this project three or four years ago, we thought that we were going to have to add in a lease of $150,000 for the panels, but by the time we actually went to install the solar, the cost of the panels had halved and we were able to provide it at no cost,” says Bucci.
Bucci’s initial target was to hit LEED Gold status but the quality of the build tipped the needle from gold to platinum.
In addition, the energy efficiency and building tightness came in higher than expected.
There are four possible levels of LEED certification — certified, silver, gold and platinum.
“At the platinum level you can’t leave anything on the table,” says Hermanson.
“All of the measures that get credit in the LEED program have to be pretty serious. There are not many easy points and you really have to make a meaningful impact on the key goals — energy efficiency, water efficiency and resource use.”
Certainly Bucci Developments is no stranger to creating sustainable multi-family designs, starting with its 2010 Lumen project in Vancouver, which was the pilot project for Built Green multi-family.
Its Calgary projects Ven, Tribeca and Kensington all hit the sustainability mark for Built Green Gold.
“It’s really all about a marriage of our beliefs in the future of housing with desirable elements for our homeowners. We think that it is a win-win,” says Bucci.