On April 26th, CSV’s Sustainability Consultant Stephen Pope attended a Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) presentation on a response to their new Zero Carbon Building Program. The presentation featured the Joyce Centre (designed by McCallum Sather Architects and B+H Architects) which is a new laboratory and classroom building at Mohawk College in Hamilton participating as pilot project testing the CaGBC Zero Carbon Building Standard. It will be the first building to certify under the new standard.
The Joyce Centre is an L-shaped building of 8,921m2 gross floor area over 5 stories, with a large terrace covering the south half the footprint of the 5th floor, and two large canopies covered with photovoltaic (PV) arrays over the roof. The project had a budget of 50M$.
Because the project was receiving federal infrastructure funding, it had to respond to a very fast project delivery timeline. In that response, the design process followed current best practice theory for high-performance buildings, even if the actual contracts and funding terms and conditions did not demand or specifically identify them. The results validate the theory, as the building is at substantial completion and within 2% of the project budget for something that is a first in Canadian construction.
The essential element for the successful project was an outcome focused design and construction team, who looked to resolve problems in a multidisciplinary fashion including design assist work with the major trades. Supporting practices included insisting on the formal completion of the Basis of Design documentation at the end of schematic design. This gave a clear identification of project priorities and the systems selected for development. Additional design support was provided by an early focus on the building enclosure in support of a whole building energy budget of 75 ekWh/m2/a of conditioned floor area (which includes fossil fuels and electricity).
To stay within the whole building energy budget, the building enclosure had to achieve a whole building R-value of R10 h*sq,ft*oF/BTU (or RSI 1.76 m2K/W). For roofs and walls this is old news, but for windows, which account for 40% of the walls, this is a big deal. Insulation in walls was increased to permit the right window area given that even the best (and most expensive) windows rarely achieve R7.
Fortunately, the investment in high-performance windows helps capture the value of the additional insulation in walls and roofs, which are pulled beyond conventional “economic sweet spots”. The investment in the enclosure also gives returns in allowing the selection of low-energy heating and cooling systems. Reducing the space conditioning loads in the Joyce Centre permitted the selection of a ground source heat pump supplied variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling system. These systems circulate refrigerant through local heat pumps to provide heating and cooling as needed in the individual spaces.
Attention to electricity use, including good natural light in the work spaces (allowing daylighting controls to reduce lighting electricity consumption), and occupancy controls (making sure plug electrical loads are not allowed to run free) complete the low-energy consumption package. These latter items are no small deal because they involve the culture of energy use in an institution. To support a culture of energy awareness, Mohawk College committed to a culture of measurement. Each lab has its own submeter, and competitions between academic programs surrounding energy consumption are encouraged.