Artists’ renderings of the City of Nanaimo’s Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (S2 Architecture/City of Nanaimo image)

Nanaimo’s new fire hall won’t require LEED certification

City council votes 8-1 to exempt building from green building strategy ideals

Nanaimo’s new fire hall will be modern and efficient, but won’t be LEED-certified.

City councillors, at their regular meeting Monday, voted 8-1 to exempt Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street from the LEED certification requirement in the City of Nanaimo’s green building strategy.

The decision is expected to save money and paperwork. According to a staff report, fees for pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification would be about $200,000 and LEED gold standards would be estimated to increase construction costs 5-8 per cent.

City of Nanaimo CAO Jake Rudolph said the project will meet its budget and noted that the city’s recent climate emergency declaration came after the fire hall financing was already approved.

RELATED: Nanaimo fire chief confident new station will be on time, on budget

The green building strategy has a policy that a city building can be exempted from the LEED process “where it can be demonstrated that it contains green-equivalent features.” The staff report noted that Fire Station No. 1 plans include LEED-equivalent and sustainable features such as “high energy efficiency,” double-paned windows, low window-to-wall ratio, storm water collection, electric vehicle charging stations and more.

“There’s a number of items within the report listed that point to our approach to energy conservation and efficiencies,” said Bill Sims, general manager of engineering and public works. “We are confident that we’re meeting at least LEED silver … whether we would tip into the LEED gold category, I don’t know.”

He said in a conversation with another senior manager, an example discussed was that placing sustainable flooring overtop of concrete might earn a point toward LEED certification.

“We’re trying to keep it common sense and of course, we’re trying to balance the financial component of this, as well,” Sims said.

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Coun. Ben Geselbracht suggested he doesn’t mind not getting the official certification as long as there is still “accountability to meet a standard.”

Coun. Don Bonner said the LEED exemption “doesn’t look good” but said he will support it because it falls within city policy. Coun. Tyler Brown initially indicated he would support the staff recommendation for the same reason, but went on to vote against the exemption.

“To me, quite frankly, that policy needs to be changed. I think it needs to be more ambitious,” Brown said. “I don’t think it sends a great message that we aren’t holding ourselves to the highest standard that we can possibly achieve in light of the recent climate [emergency] declaration.”

The city received approval last year to borrow $17 million to build the fire hall/emergency operations centre. Staff say the project will meet its budget and timelines.

RELATED: Fire station No. 1 gets go-ahead from citizens through alternative approval process

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