Canada's certifier of green construction says Ottawa is heading in the wrong direction after councillors on the environment committee agreed the city would no longer automatically apply for a LEED certification for new building stock.
LEED stands for leadership in environment and design, and is an industry-accepted certification.
The decision not to pursue LEED certification for every new city building was made after staff reported that 14 LEED applications, including the Shenkman Arts Centre, which opened in 2009, are stuck in a backlog.
Councillor David Chernushenko, himself a green building specialist, says he hoped Ottawa's decision will send a message to the agency handling the certifications.
"They need to come up with a faster, more streamlined process that costs less to the applicant," Chernushenko said, adding the environment committee's decision would not mean the city is going to stop striving for green standards.
"Let's continue to aim for (green certification) so if we wanted to we would get it. We would continue to design towards that standard," said Chernushenko. "But we wouldn't always go through the cost and the time of actually getting that check mark, that plaque for it."
But Thomas Mueller, president of the Canada Green Building Council — the Canadian agency that looks after green certification — said there's a good reason for making a building's green standard official.
"At the end of the day I think you have to make sure that things are getting done right," Mueller said. "If you go to university and you take a reading course or you take a course where you have an exam — which one do you take more seriously? It's the one with the exam and it's the same with LEED certification."
While Mueller admits they had a backlog a couple of years ago, he challenges the city's assertion that 14 of its applications are delayed.
According to Mueller, two of the projects have already been certified, five await more documentation from the city, two were submitted within the past month, and five have yet to be submitted.
The environment committee's motion will be considered by city council next week.