Fin MacDonald

Information on me and my current projects

Category Archives: LEED (Green Building)

Let the Studying Begin: LEED AP (Operations and Maintenance)

I have started studying for my next LEED exam. I am planning to write the LEED Accredited Professional exam with the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance specialty. It was a tough decision between this and the LEED for Homes specialty, which I still plan to earn someday. LEED Operations and Maintenance is a rating system that certifies that an existing building is operated and maintained in an environmentally sustainable way. This differs from the other LEED rating systems that deal with the construction of the building only.

Buildings that certify under the Operations & Maintenance program need to stay current, and re-certify at least every five years. Buildings earn credits in the following categories:
– Sustainable Sites
– Water Efficiency
– Energy and Atmosphere
– Materials and Resources
– Indoor Environmental Quality
– Innovation in Design

The key areas of difference are the Energy and Atmosphere and Indoor Environmental Quality. Building energy systems need to be commissioned regularly to make sure they are working the way that they were originally intended too. This is often not done once, let alone every 5 years. Buildings can also earn points for using environmentally friendly cleaning products and equipment. There is even a point available for using sustainable and local food sources for the food court or cafeteria of the building.

The reference manual for LEED EB:O&M is 542 pages long. This is significantly larger than the book for the LEED Green Associate exam. I am giving myself a year to prepare for and write this exam. I’m planning to take it slow and study hard. By the time I graduate from NSCC I plan to be a LEED AP.

Studying hard for my LEED AP exam


Part of my new job over the next two months will be to maintain and improve the website . I will be working as part of a three person team with another student in Halifax and one in Newfoundland. provides information on green building products and services available in Atlantic Canada. This can be very useful to building owners and builders who are working to obtain LEED certification. Having all the information together for them in one place and verified by a third party makes planning easier. It also helps eliminate green washing, which is when a company pretends to be environmentally conscious but really isn’t.

The website features a virtual tour of green buildings in the area, as well as project profiles on them. The list is short at the moment but we will soon be adding case studies on some of the new and amazing green buildings that have been opened in the past year. This year we will have lots to choose from and that is evidence that green buildings are becoming the standard way of building. There have been several LEED for homes projects in the area over the past year.

Information on rebates is available to consumers on the website for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland. This section will be changing quite a bit for Nova Scotia because of the recent launch of programs by Efficiency Nova Scotia.

I know this project will be a learning experience for me and I am excited to begin. Researching the different products and services on the market will make me more aware of what options there are out there. By doing case studies of existing LEED buildings I will witness the different approaches that can be taken to achieve the different levels of LEED certification. I am planning to someday write my LEED AP exam and I think that this work will contribute to my studying for that as well.

New job with ThermalWise and The NSYCC!

Today I accepted a new position with a company called Thermalwise that is funded through the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps (NSYCC). The NSYCC provides employment and training to youth aged 17-30 in Nova Scotia in the field of environmental sustainability. They teamed up with ThermalWise to create two job positions doing green building research. ThermalWise is dedicated to helping reduce the impact of Atlantic Canadians on the environment by promoting and facilitating green building initiatives. They provide green building assessment, certification, consulting and education services to homeowners, building owners, developers and the general public.

My tasks will include:

• Highlighting entries in the database of green building products that are made in Nova Scotia.
• Maintaining the databases of green building products available in Canada, as well as community groups, businesses and government departments that provide green building related services.
• Creating a series of case studies highlighting innovative green building practices in both new and retrofit applications. Case studies will showcase not only the techniques but also the people involved. This will include interviewing these people.
• Creating a series of videos about green building projects in Nova Scotia.
• Developing a mechanism for the public to submit examples of the steps they’re taking in their own homes to improve energy efficiency.
• Organize and upload information to the website and update website through the summer.
• Maintain a blog on the project site that highlights the crews work and progress.

I am really excited for this position and I start on Monday June 27th.


LEED Green Associate

Today I received my LEED Green Associate credential! I passed my exam on Friday and today the Green Building Certification Institute officially delivered my recognition. I am now allowed to use the LEED Green Associate title in my email signature and on business cards.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Green Associate credential denotes a basic knowledge of green building practices and principles and LEED. I spent close to a month studying for the exam and was thrilled to pass on the first try.

LEED Green Associate represents the first tier of three available:
1) LEED Green Associate
2) LEED AP with specialty
3) LEED Fellow

My next goal will be to obtain the required LEED project experience to be eligible to write the LEED AP exam. I will probably specialize in Operations and Maintenance.

Build Green Atlantic

Today I attended Build Green Atlantic, which is a green building conference presented by the Atlantic chapter of the Canadian Green Building Council and NSCC. The theme of the conference was Inspiration and Innovation. The conference presented 5 streams with a total of 25 presentations to choose from. The streams include:
1) Project profiles
2) Residential
3) Design
4) Carbon / Energy
5) Info / Education

The presentations I attended were:
1) LEED Certification Simplified – How LEED for Homes works with larger residential projects.
2) LEED Credentialing and Credentialing Maintenance.
3) Life Cycle Assessment – Developing a “Green Design” culture.
4) LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance – A team experience.
5) Making the business case for green building.

I really enjoyed the conference. The student admission rate was $35 which is very practical. Some of the conferences in my field tend to be very over priced. The best thing about the conference is that the workshops count towards your continuing education hours for LEED credentials. I don’t currently have a LEED credential but plan to write my LEED Green Associate exam really soon.