The Winnipeg International Airport is poised to become the first Canadian airport to achieve leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) certification for an air terminal building.
"There's much to be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry," says Barry Rempel, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA). "The LEED certification will constitute independent verification that we are attaining those objectives. It will also help us maintain our focus, especially on regulations we must comply with."
The 'green' building LEED rating system is a voluntary national standard for developing high-performance sustainable buildings.
Costs of certification include $6,000 for registration, $60,000 for the submission process, $15,000 for certification, and the cost of a monitoring officer and his or her budget.
|Ashoke Dasgupta, Business Edge|
|Assiniboine Credit Union vice-president for corporate social responsibility Priscilla Boucher and CFO Garry Mitchell unveil the company's environmentally friendly branch.|
A project has to be registered with LEED, Rempel explains. "It then has to have a process in place to monitor six aspects, for which points are scored. These include sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and design innovation. We're pretty pleased with it. It's about monitoring yourself, not just claiming to be a good guy."
Funding for the $570-million renovation project will come from three sources: An airport improvement fee (a charge of $15 per air ticket which came into effect in 1998 at all Canadian airports), a $250-million privately placed bond issue completed last September, and a $75,000 grant from the province of Manitoba.
The airport project has already passed LEED registration, and the provincial grant will cover submission and certification costs. Monitoring costs will not be passed on to consumers, but will be absorbed by the WAA.
"We don't see the cost of monitoring as particularly onerous," Rempel adds. "We'd design and monitor it ourselves even without certification, anyway, though it would have been difficult to justify the cost without the funding from the province. It will enhance our reputation as a city, and as a corporation."
Manitoba Conservation Minister Stan Struthers says: "Successful completion of the certification process will put the Winnipeg Airports Authority in a unique position as a LEED-registered airport terminal building in North America. We are very pleased to support this project that will result in a more environmentally friendly terminal building design."
The grant from the province will be provided through the sustainable development innovations fund (SDIF), which supports a diverse range of projects including research studies, demonstration of new technology, community enhancement and environmental awareness.
The airport project is one of 43 sharing $650,335 in SDIF funding. Other targeted funding programs under SDIF include the waste reduction and pollution prevention fund, the Environmental Youth Corps and the Manitoba climate change action fund.
The Winnipeg airport serves more than two million people from Saskatoon to Thunder Bay and from Emerson, Man., to Nunavut, with an economic impact estimated at $2.6 billion.
The redevelopment program includes a 51,000-sq.-m terminal building, a parking structure with 1,559 stalls on four levels, the construction of an additional aircraft parking apron, and groundside site services, which include utilities, land drainage and other infrastructure.
Work is expected to be completed by 2009, and most tender opportunities will be announced over the next year.
LEED certification is not the only way to go green.
The Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU)'s new branch at Main Street and Red River Boulevard features at least 30 environmental characteristics. Scheduled to open at the end of May, the building will have strategically placed windows, insulation spun from rock, and geothermal cooling and heating.
The environmental features will result in an annual $1,200 cost for heat, light and air-conditioning, which is 25 per cent of the traditional cost for 4,400 square feet.
The tellers' counters will be made of strawboard and recycled products, and non-toxic leftover paint will be pressed into service. It will also be possible to reuse the building's materials when its lifecycle has matured.
In its pursuit of corporate social responsibility, ACU has situated the branch on a major bus route for eco-friendly transport, with showers and bike racks on hand for bicycling staff.
Last February, ACU enticed Priscilla Boucher from Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity) to be the first vice-president for corporate social responsibility in a Canadian credit union.
At Vancity, Boucher had developed and launched numerous social and environmental programs, policies and products to earn that 330,000-member credit union an international reputation as a social responsibility leader.
The ACU hadn't built a branch since the 1980s, Boucher says.
"As tenants, we had experienced the travails of implementing green improvements, so we saw an opportunity to design a branch as greenly as possible, from scratch. The board's objectives were to leave a light footprint on the land at our River Grove branch, and make a strong statement about who ACU is, how we do business and our long-standing commitment to the social aspects of doing business."
To frame the building, ACU hired Inner City Renovations Inc. (ICR), a renovations company based in Winnipeg.
A joint venture between five community organizations committed to inner-city renewal through housing improvements and job creation, ICR has renovated dozens of houses and commercial buildings throughout Winnipeg's inner city, providing jobs for 15 to 20 local residents.
Twelve of ICR's 15 staff are disadvantaged First Nations people, and the organization provides low-income tenants and the unemployed a future and hope.
"Their hiring was symbolic of the socio-economic value ACU would like to add to its operations," says Boucher. "We sourced suppliers and contractors locally. The financing model worked for us, since we use the triple bottom-line concept measuring returns not only by profitability but also by factors like environmental impact, inner-city employment and a comfortable, healthy environment for our staff. Though using LEED principles as far as possible, we preferred to spend the money required for LEED certification on construction work."
ACU vice-president and CFO Garry Mitchell said that, though the company has no immediate plans for the construction of more green branches, the management will be considering ways and opportunities to render its existing buildings greener.
(Ashoke Dasgupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)