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Time to rethink LEED status

The Town of Okotoks has always been a leading example to the community and the country in regards to sustainability and its concerns about the environment.

When the Drake Landing area was established with a portion of the houses using solar panel, Okotoks — rightfully — garnered national attention for its forward thinking.

It’s continued that forward thinking with every decision it has made since — from the state-of-the-art Eco Centre to efforts to make the town more walkable and implementing a community-wide recycling and organics collection program.

The Town doesn’t need a plaque to let the world know it has sustainability in the upper portion of its mind when it comes to decision making.

Especially when that plaque comes at a cost of $150,000.

That was the approximate price tag on having the Operations Centre building on North Railway Street LEED certified.

True, the standards for building to LEED are commendable - using triple-pane windows, low-flow toilets, ensuring high air quality, water efficiency and strategic design - but as some Okotoks councillors pointed out, it would still be possible to implement these standards without needing to have the construction process and final product rubber-stamped for a fee worth two or three average wages.

It was noted new Alberta building codes mandate something close to LEED standard as of Jan. 1, so is there really a benefit to having it made officially LEED anymore?

The Town should continue to strive for high quality design, efficiency and environmental stewardship in its new construction, particularly with new projects like the Arts and Learning Campus soon to break ground.

But it’s time to reconsider the purpose and cost of LEED. Perhaps it’s enough to know the build was done well without a plaque to say, ‘Well done.”