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Looking to LEED Toronto

As both the commercial and real estate industry continue to get battered by the ongoing economic downturn, a number of analysts and economists are setting their sights on LEED certified buildings. And now, the city is joining in.

A motion by Councillor Cesar Palacio, Ward 17, is calling on the city to promote LEED certified buildings. In the motion, Palacio says, "Toronto does not have the authority to compel developers to comply with the LEED standard, but does have the ability to offer very valuable incentives to do so."

He recommends offering reasonable tax incentives to encourage and promote LEED-designed buildings in the city. But he says the city could go even further and allow LEED-certified buildings to enjoy a property tax exemption for a number of years, adding that the rule would apply to any new buildings built or retrofitted to a LEED standard.

Currently Toronto has nine buildings with LEED certification (one more than we did in May of 2008, when we had eight).

For those readers not totally sold by the environmental movement - Palacio's motion may also make economic sense for the city. A report by CoStar, a commercial real estate information company, found that LEED-certified commercial buildings sell for 67 percent more and bring in average rents that were 36 percent higher than non-certified buildings. And another report from McGraw Hill Construction shows that in spite of the downturn in the real estate market, the value of green construction INCREASED from $10 billion (all figures U.S.) in 2005 to almost $50 billion in 2008. It also suggests that by 2013, green construction may be worth as much as $150 billion.

The election of Barack Obama in the US may increase the worth and investment opportunities of the eco-economy, as he pledged to create 5 million "green collared" jobs. Maybe the city, provincial, and federal governments in Canada will see fit to follow.


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