Top 5 green building certifications for CSOs

Top 5 green building certifications for CSOs

Thinking of greening your building? Here are our top 5 certifications from our repository! 


Reaching the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires integrating environment and climate change considerations into our everyday operations. Particularly, green buildings and office retrofitcan provide an opportunity for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to move beyond social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Green buildings and offices contribute drastically towards achieving over half of the SDGs, making this an area of significant importance. Not only do green buildings and offices benefit the planet by improving health and well-being of workers, lowering emissions, and creating climate resilient infrastructure, they also enable property owners and employers to remain competitive in the labour market by increasing property value. Furthermore, while COVID-19 has forced organizations to work primarily from home, a unique opportunity arises for CSOs to become green building certified while less people occupy workplaces  


With retrofitting and green buildings in mind, we have highlighted 5 certifications that could meet your organizational needs! 



  1. Accessible for smaller budgets: BOMA BEST Sustainable Workplaces 


Effort Level: 2 out of 5 

The BOMA BEST Sustainable Workplaces Program promotes sustainability within an organization, while facilitating monitoring and reporting on environmental performance. This certification is obtained through a four-step process – develop policies, create goals and objectives, develop and implement programs, and lastly apply for certification. This is a great option for Cooperation Canada members with smaller budgets. 

Cost and timeline: Prices are based on the number of employees in your organizations and range from $500 to $1,900 CAD annually. Certification process typically takes 6 months. 

  • low annual cost 
  • ranking is recognized as roughly equivalent to most widely used certification (LEED) 
  • application can be completed online by a Facility Manager 
  • provide examples for organizations to take inspiration from for each development area 
  • bilingual 
  • requires organizations to develop goals and targets for programs internally, which could complicate matters for organizations that are seeking a more guided route 

2. Online self-assessment for tenants: Green Globes Canada – Sustainable Interiors 

Effort Level: 2 out of 5 

The Green Globes system is a green rating assessment, guidance and certification program that can be completed online through a questionnaire-based system. This approach is specifically designed for tenant improvement projects, fit-outs and remodels. Unlike other certifications, this system allows building owners and individual tenants of commercial and institutional spaces to improve their workspace through interior design. For Cooperation Canada members that do not own their buildings, this can be a great option.  

Cost and timeline: Prices are based on gross floor area and range from $8,000 to $20,000+ CAD over 100,000 ft2. The certification process typically takes between 4 to 6 months

  • flexibility to tailor project for organizations unique situations, as well as various pathways* 
  • lower cost associated with self-assessment  
  • reduced operating costs 
  • qualify for tax incentives and utility rebates 
  • attract and retain employees 
  • additional fees such as assessor travel fees and complexity fees (buildings requiring additional energy modelling review)  
  • website only accessible in English 

*see website for additional pathways for certification  

3. Professional Guidance: LEED – Commercial Interiors 

Effort Level: 3 out of 5 

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the most well-known and recognized rating certification system created primarily for the tenant improvement market. This system allows tenants and designers to make sustainable choices in situations where they may not have whole building operationsThis option is great for Cooperation Canada members who have larger budgets and want more guidance. 

Cost and timelinePrices are based on the gross floor area and range from $1,500 to $34,000 CAD. Certification typically takes between 2 to 4 months.  

  • most recognized certification system 
  • LEED professionals available to provide expert advice and guidance on your project 
  • governing organization is considerate of feedback to improve system 
  • bilingual 
  • costly 
  • not a flexible system that can be adapted to unique organizational needs 


4. Focusing on human wellness and health: WELL Building Standard 

Effort Level: 3 out of 5 

Unlike other green building certifications, the WELL Building Standard primarily focuses on the impact of the built environment on human health and well-being. This performance-based system measures, certifies and monitors building attributes that affect health, including air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mindThis option is ideal for CC members that want to focus on health of their employees by integrating wellness into their greening efforts.  

Cost and timeline: Prices are based on the gross floor area and start at $8,000 USD. recertification is required every 3 years to maintain certification statusCertification typically takes approximately 8 months.  

  • timeline generator and price calculator available 
  • 35% discount for non-profits and charitable organizations 
  • places focus on human health and wellness in relation to the built environment 
  • recertification ensures health and wellness standards are maintained continuously 
  • bilingual 
  • recertification every 3 years to maintain certification status at additional cost 


5. For the aspiring ambitious environmentalist: Living Building Challenge 

Effort level: 5 out of 5 

The goal of the Living Building Challenge is to move beyond “being better,” towards a regenerative built environment. Instead of a points-based system, this certification system evaluates buildings according to performances areas, which are further divided into Imperatives. Buildings must meet several required Imperatives to achieve certification. This certification is ideal for CC members that are constructing new buildings and want to commit to regenerative infrastructure.  

Cost and timeline: Prices are based on gross floor area and range from $4,900 to $20,000 USD for large buildings. Certification requires a minimum of 12 months in operation in order to evaluate actual building performance.  

  • ambitious goals that go beyond other certifications to be regenerative 
  • considers human health and equity when building 
  • additional pathways available – Zero Carbon Certification and Zero Energy Certification 
  • bilingual 
  • more challenging for retrofitting, as construction materials are considered in the performance areas 
  • content is very advanced, thus may be difficult to achieve 

Green buildings and retrofitting certifications have become increasingly accessible for all types of organizations, including CSOsOur sector could now benefit from such opportunities while doing their part in achieving the SDGs and more importantly in greening their workplaces, operations and programming. We hope the above list provides clarity for you and your organization for future green building certification endeavors  



See Cooperation Canada’s full repository of tools and resources! 

Cooperation Canada Statement on Allegations Concerning WE Charity Operations in Kenya

October 19, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – Over the past six months, Canada’s international cooperation sector has watched with concern the evolving media coverage and investigations regarding the WE Charity and its related organizations. As a sector, we have refrained from any statements that might interfere with ongoing investigations into a charity whose internal operations remain unknown to most  

We have taken this time to interrogate ourselves and each other regarding the multiple impacts of power asymmetries, reflect upon potential improvements of our governance and partnership models and engage in a transparent and a forward-looking dialogue with the Canadian political establishment and the public. Cooperation Canada’s Code of Ethics, which counts over 90 signatory organizationsis a key resource guiding conversations about accountability and the normative foundations of our sector. Through this Code of Ethics, Cooperation Canada members commit publicly to core principles including organizational transparency, accountability and integrityThey commit to prevent and avoid conflicts of interest, comply with local laws and manage funds both appropriately and accountably. 

Cooperation Canada is also coordinating the Canadian Centre of Expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and AbuseDigna, and working on setting up structures for a collective anti-racist agenda. We are also facilitating strategic discussions about ways of improving the sustainability and the ownership of international cooperation initiatives and improving outdated national legislation, dating back to the 1950s, which regulates charitable sector accountability.  

“Recent stories regarding WE Charity and affiliated organizations’ operations in Kenya are deeply concerning and are in no way representative of how experienced international development and humanitarian organizations operate” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO of Cooperation Canada.

The many stories swirling around the WE organizations also highlight the importance of transparent structures and practices of civil society organizations, and the value of sector-wide frameworks and communities of practice to advance best practice in accountability and governance. 

WE Charity has, for the most part, remained outside of collective Canadian international cooperation sector platforms. The Charity is not among the ninety-one members of Cooperation Canada, has not signed the aforementioned Code of Ethics, and is the only large Canadian self-described international development organization which is not a part of any of the national coordination and consultative groups of the sector. The charity is also not a part of our joint commitments, advocacy campaigns, policy monitoring groups, or accountability frameworks. Without these interactions that allow for sharing of good practices and transparent communication, we are unable to fully understand operational processes of the WE organizationsYet stories swirling around these organizations are having a real impact on public trust for others who work globally for a better, fairer and more equitable world. 

International cooperation organizations operate in different environments around the world, often in complex and difficult circumstances, promoting goals of improved global health, human rights, gender equality, education, refugee protection, food security and nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and many others. Regardless of their respective program prioritiesall of our members would agree that our key shared institutional capital is public trust. Without trust, we are unable to do our critical work, to form equitable partnerships, engage with communities, governments and private sector actors, or mobilize resources towards international assistance. To protect this trust, our organizations consistently err on the side of caution to avoid unnecessarily complex financial structures and both real and perceived situations of conflicts of interest. Ensuring transparency of our efforts and nurturing trust-based relationships has been and remains a top sector priority.  

As a part of accountability measures, organizations in the international cooperation sector are subject to the regulations of the Canada Revenue Agency and regulatory authorities in all jurisdictions where they operate, to reporting requirements of donor agencies, such as Global Affairs Canada, as well as those of the federations and networks to which many belong. These mechanisms are backed by complaint mechanisms and audit processes to which organizations are subject. 

While private sector engagement remains an important part of community development workcollaborations with private sector organizations must support charitable purposesCharitable organizations cannot serve to support private enterprise objectives and careful legislative and regulatory mechanisms are in place to ensure this 

Cooperation Canada takes seriously any allegations of unethical practices within our sector and condemns any violations of the public trust and international or national legislation on charitable activities. We will continue to support sector-wide coordination around ethical practices and governance structures, offer platforms for sharing of good practices in this area, and support our members in engaging in equitable and transparent dialogues with sector stakeholders, national and international partners, the communities we strive to serve, and the Canadian public.  

Cooperation Canada invites all Canadian organizations working in international development and humanitarian assistance to join us and their peers in advancing shared objectives and best practice as we all seek to work for a better world that is fair and inclusive for all.   

Media Inquiries
Kat Guerin
Manager, Communications
Cooperation Canada | 613-222-3009 

The call for nominations for Cooperation Canada awards is now open

The call for nominations for Cooperation Canada awards is now open

The call for nominations is now open for The Karen Takacs Award for Women’s Leadership in International Development and the Innovation and Impact Awards for 2020.

The Karen Takacs Award is presented annually to an individual who has notably, by virtue of working collaboratively, made a difference in the lives of women globally. The award honours outstanding collaborative leadership and commitment to promoting women’s equality.

Cooperation Canada and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, jointly present the Innovation and Impact Awards, which recognize Canadian individuals and civil society organizations that are doing impactful and innovative work.

Learn more about the awards:


Nominations will be accepted until end of day, November 13.

Digna, the Canadian Centre of Expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, has launched its website

Digna, the Canadian Centre of Expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, has launched its website

Digna, the Canadian Centre of Expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), aims to contribute to organizational culture change within the Canadian international cooperation community by making resources on PSEA more accessible to organizations and their partners.

The website,, launched today and features these resources and more:

  • How Digna can support you and your organization
  • Global Affairs Canada PSEA requirements
  • Learning from others in the sector
    • Examples of Organizational Policies that address PSEA from Canadian CSOs
    • Examples of Codes of conduct that explicitly prohibit sexual exploitation and abuse,
    • Available training
  • Other Digna resources
    • Toolkits
    • Accompanying Survivors
    • Reducing the Risk of SEA during crisis

Learn how Digna can support your organization at

Cooperation Canada hosts Digna, the Canadian Centre of expertise on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA).

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation rebrands as Cooperation Canada

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation rebrands as Cooperation Canada

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Canada’s national association of international development and humanitarian organizations, became Cooperation Canada today – complete with a new logo, look and feel and new website:


Beyond the aesthetic changes, the Cooperation Canada brand represents one part in the constant evolution of our work to build a better, fairer, and more sustainable world.  As humankind
faces once-in-a-generation challenges in responding to the profound impacts of the global COVID pandemic and worsening climate crisis, so is our society awakening to the critical need to further defend human rights, end systemic racism and realize equality for all.


As our world evolves around us, Cooperation Canada has an important role to play in working with sector organizations to set ambitious agendas for change during a time when systemic and pervasive inequalities are being brought to the fore, challenged, and disrupted. Cooperation Canada is committed to championing an inclusive future and will continue to work closely with its members to make this a reality.


In the weeks ahead, Cooperation Canada will relaunch its Code of Ethics and Operational Standards for international cooperation organizations – a set of guiding and ethical principles that Cooperation Canada and its member organizations adopt for their work – updated after a decade to reflect best practice.  Cooperation Canada is also working on sector-wide commitments to address systemic racism within the sector.


“Our new name reflects our dedication to global human progress that is fair, safe and sustainable for all, and highlights our focus on collaboration between diverse stakeholders to make this a reality,” said Nicolas Moyer, CEO of Cooperation Canada. “It embodies our deeply held belief that partnership and solidarity can drive positive progress through collective action.”


Work on the rebrand began in 2017 when the organization applied to be the recipient of creative marketing agency McMillan’s “Betterful” initiative, which selects a non-profit organization and helps it rebrand by offering pro-bono work. After being selected for this program, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation embarked on an extensive consultation and brand development process with the agency.

CCIC commends the government’s commitment to invest more in international development and the Global Response to COVID

CCIC commends the government’s commitment to invest more in international development and the Global Response to COVID

The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) is pleased to hear the government’s Throne Speech today speak to the need to “invest more in international development while supporting developing countries on their economic recoveries and resilience. Canada will also support work to ensure that people around the world have access to a vaccine.”  

We agree that we cannot eliminate the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada unless we end it everywhere; and we applaud the government’s stated ambitions to lead a global response to COVID-19 in which increased investments in international assistance ensure that no one is left behind. 

COVID-19 has highlighted the inequalities that exist at home, and around the world. These disparities have the potential to be catastrophic in low and middle income countries where food systems may be less secure and are already impacted by climate change; where children may need to support their families and, as such, may never return to school; and where social safety nets and health care systems are no match to ours. It is estimated that around the world COVID-19 will push 71 million people into extreme povertyand265 million into acute food insecurityand result in 117 million missed child vaccinationsand31 million additional cases of gender-based violence. 

Today the Canadian government has committed to standing up for Canadian values, at a time when the world needs it more than ever. We look forward to investments to follow today’s commitment to build back better and leave no one behind,” CCIC’s CEO Nicolas Moyer states.   

The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) encourages Canada to fulfill the intentions laid out in today’s Speech from the Throne by committing at least 1% of its total COVID response – or $2 billion in new and additional funds – to a global response that tackles the spread of the virus and its secondary impacts in the poorest countries.  These investments are not only urgently needed and the right thing to do but they are also the path to global and Canadian recovery. The only way out of this global crisis is through multilateralism, international cooperation, mutual support and solidarity.    


Media Contact:
Kat Guerin, Communications Manager 
Cell phone: 613-222-3009