Winnipeg politicians, Blue Bombers executives and project construction managers have referred to Investors Group Field as "state-of-the-art" and "world-class," but the stadium's status as an environmentally friendly facility has side-stepped Manitoba's own requirements for funding.

The NDP government introduced a Green Building Policy for Government-Funded Projects in 2007, requiring any building funded by the province to have a minimum LEED Silver certification.

The standards under LEED — which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design  are administered by the Canada Green Building Council.

The council's local chapter would have been closely involved if the project managers intended to certify the stadium to those standards. They were never consulted.

Green as long as it's free

Provincial bureaucrats met with the stadium's construction project manager early in the building phase to discuss LEED certification.

'It wasn't built to a very high standard and, unfortunately, it's probably going to be a lesson learned.' - Dan McInnis

Those discussions did not mean the stadium would meet the regulations. In fact, construction reports on the stadium build indicate an effort would be made to be green as long as it didn't cost anything.

According to documents obtained by CBC News, the stadium project manager had at least two meetings with the province's Green Building Team.

On May 13, 2011, the manager wrote, "It was agreed that any items that could reduce the carbon footprint of the stadium and its continued operations or reduce or recycle waste with no cost or no other impact would be implemented."

That disappoints Dan McInnis, executive director of the Canada Green Building Council's Manitoba chapter.

"Why the province and the city and football club decided to go the route it did — you know, the chapter can't answer that," McInnis said.

"At the end of the day, it wasn't built to a very high standard and, unfortunately, it's probably going to be a lesson learned."

LEED not just environmentally friendly

McInnis said LEED certification typically costs about two per cent of a project's overall budget, and the cost is recouped between two and seven years from project completion.

"The Winnipeg Football Club is now faced with a very large mortgage that it is required to pay back, and reduced operating costs would certainly help repay their debt," he said.

The provincial government provided CBC News with an explanation of why the stadium did not need to meet LEED certification: it granted the project "alternate compliance" through environmental measures that were taken.

An email from the province suggests that LEED certification was not applicable in this case because of the design of the building.

"Evaluation of LEED standards for the new stadium was not applicable because of its specialized function as an open-air outdoor facility and seasonal use occupancies," the email states in part.

Provincial bureaucrats should have looked south of the border — last month the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and their M&T Bank Stadium, an open-air facility, were granted LEED Gold certification.

Also in November, LEED Silver certification was awarded to the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field.

The Manitoba government's reasons for offering "alternate compliance" to Investors Group Field did not explain why the stadium's administration building was not required to meet LEED certification standards.

Standards meet 'spirit' of legislation

Ron Lemieux, the minister of tourism, culture, sport and consumer protection, says the environmental standards at Investors Group Field meet "the spirit" of the government's legislation. 

He acknowledged the stadium's standards do not "totally meet LEED's."

"As a government, we have a lot of good environmental successes that we can point to and all of our initiatives that are headed in that direction," Lemieux said​.

Lemieux was not aware that there are more than 30 stadiums across North America that have been certified LEED Silver or Gold.

The minister also said he has not heard of the stadium's LEED status being an issue.

"I haven't heard much about that, actually, from the public or anyone else saying, you know, 'It's not LEED-certified,'" Lemieux said.

"So somehow, that's a deterrent … or takes away from the fact that you have a fantastic stadium."

As well, he defended the environmental status of the stadium, saying, "You've got low-flush toilets, all those things that a modern facility would have."