Net positive energy office taking shape in Canada

April 20, 2017

Photo courtesy of Canadian Property Management

In Waterloo, Ontario, workers are installing wells for a geo-exchange system that will heat and cool a new office development aiming to be one of the most energy efficient in Canada.

What will be a LEED platinum, net-positive office building that produces more energy than it consumes every year is also known as Evolv1, a name that serves as a metaphor to its surroundings, reports Canadian Property Management.

Situated within the David Johnston Research + Technology Park (R+T Park) in the Idea Quarter, near a 270-acre environmental reserve, the construction site neighbors forward-thinking tenants involved in everything from bio-technology and solar-power to the automotive industry and agri-food. The R+T Park is also home to the largest privately-owned green roof in southwestern Ontario, which, at the time it was built 10 years ago, was the largest in Canada.

Companies there, along with a green team, are involved in ongoing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This new building will follow suit, while also evolving old industry norms, showing that Class A office space can be developed in a highly sustainable, but commercially viable way.

“What we’re demonstrating with Evolv1 is that we’re able to develop it at market prices,” said Adrian Conrad, chief operating officer of The Cora Group, the project developer. “We’re hoping that it’s a catalyst for change in the industry, locally and beyond. With this new office space I want to change what employees and companies demand in their buildings, to show this can be done, and done cost effectively.”

Partners collaborating on the three-floor, 110,000 square-foot building include Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR), anchor tenant EY Canada and The Cora Group that invested $35 million into the project. Another tenant has also committed to the space, which will open its doors in 2018 and is being preleased alongside Evolv2, a similar office building that will one day rise across the street.

Two years ago, project architect Stantec conducted a feasibility study to investigate what was possible in creating the building. The team decided to target LEED platinum design principles.

Aiming to go well beyond current green building practices and integrate systems that give back to the environment, a geothermal exchange system will extract heat from the ground to warm the building on cold days and send excess heat into the ground to cool the building on hot days.

Smart, dimmable 1-10V LED lighting will be installed throughout the building, along with a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system. And about 1.5 acres of 700 kilowatt photovoltaic solar panels will blanket the roof and carport, generating clean electricity in the face of rising energy costs. They are projected to generate about 106 to 110 per cent of the building’s energy requirements.

Triple-glazed windows will salvage insulation concerns, while also adding an abundance of natural light.

“What occupants will find is they are, at most, 40 feet away from a window anywhere in the building,” Conrad said. “So, we’ll end up building what is highly sustainable, but also really great office space. With our mechanical system, we’re also designing for higher air changes than normal – the more fresh air, the more comfortable the office.”

Another way the design targets good air quality is with the addition of a solar wall on the south elevation. An aluminum perforated wall will be installed with an air cavity behind it so the building passively preheats air without using energy, before the mechanical system carries it into the space.

Through the city of Waterloo, Evolv1 received funds from the Green Municipal Fund to help with the feasibility study. The city will soon share those findings as a way to “disrupt the development industry” and make such green buildings less of an apprehensive process.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Building Owners and Managers, Certifications, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Geothermal Heating and Cooling, Great Commercial Buildings, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, HVAC - Heating & Cooling & Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, USGBC, Ventilation

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

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