Perspectives

Alberta Chapter

Canada Green Building Council

November 2012 

 

In This Issue:


Calendar of events

LEED is not the enemy

Alberta hits LEED milestone

LEED certifications

  • Fifth Avenue Place

  • First Calgary Training Centre

  • Banff transit services building

Station Pointe, Edmonton

Green interiors – recycling room

Habitat Edmonton’s concrete home

Book review: Silent Spring

CaGBC’s women in green

Jasper Sustainability Youth Club

Headline highlights

Calendar of Events

November 13

Lunch & Learn – Health + Energy + Material – Designing a new prototype for interiors – Calgary

November 27-28

BIM Symposium – Edmonton

December 6

Better Buildings Breakfast - Better Buildings Breakfast - Edmonton North LRT Expansion – Edmonton

December 11 & 12

LEED AP Building Design & Construction (BD & C) Study Course - Calgary


May 7

Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium - Edmonton


LEED is not the enemy

LEED Logo

This month, Alberta celebrates a huge milestone. We have reached 100 LEED certified projects throughout the province. That’s right – we are celebrating LEED and what it has helped us accomplish.

For years, the battle has raged on both sides of the LEED fence. Proponents say LEED has helped the Alberta green building industry move the sustainable agenda forward, effectively facilitating the evolution of green building design and construction.

Opponents say LEED is unwieldy, expensive and slow.

The bottom line, says Alberta Chapter Chair Cam Munro, is that LEED is a tool – designed to help entire building and design teams look at their project holistically.

"Simply, LEED helps us plan efficient buildings," says Cam. "It offers a framework for considering all the elements of a project at the onset so we can design and build a building that remains efficient and useable throughout its lifespan."

Cam believes LEED is the tool that pushes us in the direction we should be taking as a matter of course. "Should the industry not be striving with every project undertaken to create buildings that minimize their environmental footprint throughout their lives? Is this not a minimum standard our entire industry should adopt?"

Opponents, even those who aren’t on board from an environmental perspective, often see the value of efficient buildings because of their lower operating costs. A favourite argument against LEED, however, is that LEED is costly and cumbersome, often not issuing certification until months or even years after a project has been registered for certification.

"The cost of LEED certification has been discussed and challenged for some years. LEED certification is a recognized and respected achievement. It represents the equivalent of professional accreditation – and that represents a significant benefit and value to the project team."

And are LEED buildings more costly to design and build? "Not necessarily, but even those that reflect additional initial costs can expect significantly lower operational costs throughout the lifespan of the building." Cam says the industry as a whole has to make the shift from compartmentalizing the costs of projects according to building phase and develop a process where all costs are amortized over the buildings’ life.

Cam says project teams also need to communicate more effectively. "In some instances, the CaGBC is unfairly criticized for lags in issuing certification. The process takes time, but it’s useful to remember that the CaGBC is the last domino in the row. Owners and their consulting team have to ensure they have done due diligence in submitting all the required documentation and following up appropriately. The responsibility for keeping the process efficient is shared between the project team and the CaGBC."

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Alberta celebrates 100 LEED certified projects

Take a bow, Alberta green building teams! In October, we surpassed 100 LEED certified projects.

Tanya Doran, Alberta Chapter Executive Director, can’t be more pleased.

"I see momentum building throughout our province. From Medicine Hat to McMurray, we have forward thinkers who are stewarding buildings that are both aesthetically pleasing and very efficient. Those buildings have earned certification through one of the most respected building rating systems in the world."

Read on for summaries of the most recent projects to earned LEED certification.

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Fifth Avenue Place earns LEED Gold

Friday, Sept. 21 was a big day for Calgary’s Fifth Avenue Place, its tenants and their employees – and Brookfield Office Properties – when they received official confirmation of having achieved LEED EB:O&M Gold certification.

The prestigious certification is the result of a multi-phase process begun in 2009 just as the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) was launching the official EB:O&M (existing building operations and maintenance) program.

This process involved conducting an initial screening, performing an in-depth analysis, developing compliance and implementation strategies, completing a performance period to substantiate compliance and, lastly, awaiting the results from a thorough evaluation conducted by the CaGBC.

Fifth Avenue Place

Besides following the path to LEED Gold, Brookfield Office Properties has adopted numerous industry-leading environmental policies and programs, including:

  • a new Smart Move Alternative Transportation Program to provide building occupants with more tools and information about sustainable commuting options,

  • enhanced green cleaning and solid waste management policies and programs,

  • new internal sustainable purchasing policies to track sustainable food and low mercury lamps, and

  • enhanced indoor air quality policies and procedures to further improve health and well-being of the occupants.

Check out Brookfield Office Properties sustainable initiatives.

The LEED® Canada EB:O&M 2009 rating system helps building owners and operators measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts. LEED Canada EB:O&M 2009 addresses whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues (including chemical use), recycling programs, exterior maintenance programs, and systems upgrades.

Under this rating system, building owners must file for recertification at least once every five years to maintain their LEED Canada EB:O&M status. Since recertification requires demonstration of compliance for the entire period of time since the last certification, LEED Canada EB:O&M 2009 represents an ongoing commitment by building operators to continuously assess the environmental performance their buildings.

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First Calgary Financial earns LEED certification

First Calgary Financial’s Training Centre and Contact Centre received the official word August 15 that the two facilities had earned LEED certification.

The LEED certification underlines the First Calgary Financial commitment to environmental initiatives.

These initiatives include:

Recycling:

First Calgary Financial

  • The company conducted an external waste assessment audit of its operations to determine their success in diverting waste from the landfills. As a result of the assessment, extensive recycling and composting stations have now been rolled out to all locations. In the first three months, the initiative diverted 1,535 kg of plastics, paper, organics and metals from landfills.

Energy, gas and water:

  • First Calgary Financial has installed energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures in many locations.

Transportation:

  • First Calgary Financial has no-idling policies around all corporate locations and encourage employee car-pooling to corporate events.

Purchasing:

  • The organization recognizes that choosing environmentally responsible suppliers and products helps improve the safety and health of their employees, members and the public. As well, sustainable practices help conserve natural resources and energy, and improve awareness of environmental stewardship.

The First Calgary Financial Okotoks branch earned LEED Gold earlier this year. Read about that achievement in the June issue of Perspectives.

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Banff fleet/transit building earns LEED certification

LEED certification for the Town of Banff’s fleet/transit services building underlines the town’s sustainability vision.

The Town of Banff got the good word in October of LEED certification for the 1,260-square-metre bus facility building.

Key sustainable features of the building include:

  • a rooftop rainwater collection system that provides the water for bus washing; this results in water savings of well over a million litres annually,

  • a building envelope design which, combined with state-of-the-art electrical and mechanical systems, will use 30% less energy of a non-LEED building,

  • concrete wall construction, estimated to last 50 years longer than an equivalent steel or pre-engineered building, and

  • large-span, high-efficiency windows for natural light, and significantly more roof insulation for heat retention.

For more details, check out the March 2012 edition of Perspectives.

Banff Transit Building

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Station Pointe, Edmonton

Developed by The Communitas Group Ltd., Edmonton Article submitted by Anand Mishra, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Station Pointe is a project selected under the EQuilibriumTM Communities Initiative, a collaborative sustainable community demonstration initiative of Natural Resources Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the Government of Canada’s ecoACTION initiatives

The EQuilibriumTM Communities Initiative provides financial assistance for technical activities and showcasing the performance of selected neighbourhood development projects which, through their planning, design, implementation and operation, will provide measurable improvements over current approaches in the areas of energy and water consumption, environmental protection, land use planning, sustainable transportation and other features. Capital construction costs are not funded through the initiative.

Station Pointe

Station Pointe is a transit-oriented development, to be the first redevelopment within the Fort Road community renewal project initiated by the City of Edmonton on former industrial lands northeast of downtown.

The site is located within walking distance of a light rail transit station and bus terminal. The project is planned to include 220 affordable and market-priced homes in the form of townhomes and mid- and high-rise apartments. The mix of uses is expected to include over 1,400 m2 of commercial/retail uses, a daycare and community facilities.

Affordability is a guiding objective in this project, targeting prices below the area average. A green loan is proposed to cover the increased capital costs of energy-saving features and be paid back through a monthly green fee equal to the operating savings realized.

Communitas has had success with this approach in another high-efficiency multi-residential building in Edmonton.

Station Pointe is planned to be developed as a number of cooperatives, including both home ownership and continuing, as well as a second tier cooperative. Because the co-ops are to function as a neighbourhood association and take responsibility for the common property and systems, the long-term viability of the community features is ensured.

The project targets a 75% reduction in building energy use. Through initiative support, Communitas is exploring options for renewable and waste energy sources in a district energy system as well as passive house designs.

Station Pointe

Initiative support is also being used for investigating options for treating 100% of the wastewater on site, which will then be reused for toilet flushing and irrigation. The project aims to divert 100% of the stormwater from the municipal sewer through a combination of onsite infiltration and capture for treatment and use on site.

As the most northern of the four Equilibrium™ Communities projects, it plans to embrace indoor and outdoor "winter city" design concepts such as maximizing solar exposure, options for pedestrian movement through all buildings, prevailing wind protection and design for snow storage and removal.

Since the project is in the planning phase, the initiative-funded work focuses on consultation/ alignment, analysis and design for performance improvements. This includes consultation with approval authorities on the proposed water reuse options and alignment with the community and future residents. Analysis and design improvements are in areas that include: renewable and waste energy use at the neighbourhood scale; green financing options; and options for onsite collection, treatment and use of rainwater and wastewater

For more information about the EQuilibriumTM Communities Initiative, and winning projects, visit www.cmhc.ca.

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Provincial Product Profiles – RRRibbitt’s EcoHouse interior

A new education room at the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Material Recovery Facility (MRF) gives youngsters and adults alike a hands-on lesson in reducing, reusing and recycling.

Designed to tell the story of the 3Rs to school children – from what and how to recycle to what happens to recyclable material once it leaves the curb by their house – the show-stopping room offers several different activity areas to accommodate a busload of students.

RRRibbitt, Wood Buffalo’s well-known recycling mascot, welcomes visitors to his EcoHouse – the education room – and invites them to enter by walking on a lily pad path.

RRRibbitt's EcoHouse

One path leads a small group to specially designed interactive recycling games where teams can test their recycling skills. Another area allows the children to watch the recyclables being sorted on conveyor belts below. Yet another area allows children to sort through a Trash to Treasure chest to examine loads of household products made from recycled material. Another area is set up for hands-on craft activities.

The education room is a product of months of planning by the Wood Buffalo municipality, The DAGNY Partnership marketing and communication consultants, designers, a cartoonist and EcoAmmo.

Highlights of the recycled content interior include:

  • DinoFlex rubber flooring, made from the huge tires of the oil sands industrial fleet! The tires are ground up and made into crumb in Edmonton, then manufactured into a range of products in Salmon Arm, B.C. The flooring contains a minimum of 74% post-consumer recycled content – the tire rubber – and 7% pre-consumer recycled content.

  • RRRibbitt's EcoHouse

  • PaperStone furniture details, made from 100% post-consumer FSC certified recycled paper and cardboard, and their own petroleum-free phenolic resins and natural pigments. Better yet, it has no added urea–formaldehyde.

  • A variety of composite plastic wood products from Fiberon and Trex were used for wall details and a mock patio space and viewing area. The Fiberon products include 74% post-consumer recycled content from recycled wood and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from plastic milk jugs, shampoo and laundry detergent bottles.

  • The Trex products contain 65.5% pre-consumer and 31.52% post-consumer recycled content, wood and polyethylene primarily from plastic shopping bags.

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Habitat Edmonton’s concrete home

Just weeks from now, two families will move into their warm, cozy pre-cast concrete duplex homes in Edmonton’s Riverdale community.

The two new homes could represent a new future for net-zero energy home construction.

As reported in the November 2011 issue of Perspectives, the pilot project is a partnership among Lafarge, Stantec and Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

The big difference – the quantum leap – with this duplex is the move away from using wood studs and plywood sheeting for the building envelope. Instead, the duplex uses pre-cast slabs of concrete trucked to the site and assembled for the neighbours to see.

Habitat Edmonton's Concrete Home

With 80 pieces able to be put together in a day, there should be lots of excitement on the street.

As Ian Harvey quotes in his article, special to The Star, the homes' exterior took some special attention to ensure its street appeal.

"We gave the initial designs to our architects and they went to work softening up the exterior," said Klaas Rodenburg, lead designer at Stantec. "The great thing about pre-cast concrete is that you can do almost anything with it, like add colour and texture."

So, the modern, attractive homes – each with 1,060 square feet of space and a 500-square-foot unfinished basement – will boast exterior walls with R44 insulation value and a slab roof with R88.

And let’s not forget about the net-zero aspect of the homes. Basically, the homes are designed to consume no energy for heating, cooling, lights or water over a 12-month period. The duplex features photovoltaic and thermal solar roof panels and a shared geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling.

It also takes advantage of the density of the concrete, using its thermal mass to retain heat from the daytime sun and to absorb and deflect heat from the hot winter sun.

Read more about the potential for this construction template to be used as a cost-effective answer to some of Canada’s most challenging housing needs.

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Book review by Jen Hancock, Chandos Construction

Silent Spring

by Rachel Carson

"Who has decided – who has the right to decide – for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insects, even though it be also a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight?" (Page 127, Silent Spring)

Silent Spring

Rachel Carson grew up in Pennsylvania in the early 1900s. After earning a degree in biology and then a Masters in Zoology, she eventually landed a full-time job with the Bureau of Fisheries. In 1936 she was only the second woman to be hired for a full time position as a junior aquatic biologist.

Carson had been writing throughout her academic and early work career; then, her writing talent was put to use as she was made editor in chief of all the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services publications.

Out of Carson’s love of science and writing came Silent Spring. It was first published in 1962 and recounts case after case of chemical pesticide misuse in the United States and Canada.

Rachel Carson speaks to the absolute lack of research and consideration for humans, animals, plants and insects in the mass spraying of chemical pesticides. She was one of the first to bring to light that the quick fix of applying chemicals to fields and/or water sources was horrifyingly irresponsible. None of the chemicals applied could ever target just one pest; they almost always affected other plants and animals.

She recounts one case at a University in Michigan in which the trees were sprayed with DDT to treat Dutch elm disease. The population of robins, which had inhabited the grounds in great numbers, began dying in large quantities. In other municipalities after DDT applications, the birds disappeared entirely for months at a time.

The book is remarkable for its elegant writing style; it is not often that such a serious and scientific text is written in such beautiful prose.

This book is also remarkable for the fact that a woman wrote and published it in the 1960s. Although the world was warming to females in professional roles, it would still have been far from easy for her to have been taken seriously. And although the subject matter is distressing, the book is fascinating and a necessary read for anyone interested in the environmental movement.

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CaGBC’s women in green

The women of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) family offer an impressive array of professional backgrounds, knowledge of the green building industry and commitment to improving our built environment.

Every day, staff in the CaGBC national office and the executive directors (EDs) of the Council’s eight chapters interact with industry reps from architects to product developers – the professionals who turn the visions of a greener world into reality.

Many of those industry professionals belong to traditionally male-dominated professions – putting the onus on CaGBC staff to talk the language of the industry.

No problem. Many EDs have come from green backgrounds.

Women In Green

Tanya Doran, Alberta Chapter ED, was introduced to the sustainable building industry during a part-time job in college. Fast forward to 2001 through 2007 when she helped coordinate the annual Alberta Sustainable Building Symposiums and worked part-time with the Net-Zero Energy Home Coalition.

Lara Ryan, Atlantic Chapter ED, managed a consulting business based on sustainability and corporate responsibility before joining the Chapter. "My current job is a neat marriage of my former worlds. I know how to run an NFP – and green building is a huge piece of the puzzle of sustainability."

Teresa Hanna, Ottawa Region Chapter ED, is a practising architect. "I still get to dabble a bit in design. I simply want to create better, more beautiful buildings, healthy for the inhabitants as well as for the natural environment. My background and ED position give me the scope to do that."

Research proves what these EDs illustrate – that women are assuming increasingly greater decision-making roles in the Canadian labour market. According to Statistics Canada, women now account for the majority of university graduates. Women are also entering more non-traditional occupations. Between 1996 and 2006, the proportion of women increased significantly in physical sciences, architecture, drafting, surveying and mapping – and as managers in engineering, architecture, science and information systems.

So what skills do the CaGBC female professionals offer?

Gayle Maltais, CaGBC’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), joined the CaGBC from her management position at NAV CANADA, Canada’s civil air navigation services provider. "I had a broad range of management skills but I wasn’t contributing to society in any meaningful way. I knew I had more to offer."

Now she manages the CaGBC operations ranging from facilities and security to governance, human resources and finance. She is also part of the senior executive team, helping develop the organization’s strategic direction and supporting the implementation of a range of business issues.

In addition to supervising several staff, Mona Lemoine of Cascadia invests significant time in stewarding the development and implementation of Cascadia’s strategic plan.

She says part of her role is facilitating connections within the industry to drive the agenda forward. "It’s about connecting the dots. Opportunities happen when the right people connect. Finding those synergies and leveraging them helps the movement as a whole."

Tanya Doran, Alberta Chapter, believes her skills complement those of the traditional professions. "I bring a different skillset to the table than the architects and engineers. I hold things together. I open doors and ensure the green building agenda moves forward."

Lisa MacDonell, Manitoba Chapter, credits her success to a well-rounded skillset and the right personality for the job. "I don’t make a point of being a strong woman because I need to be a ‘strong woman’ in a male- dominated industry; I’m simply a strong person. I have energy and a passion for this organization and the cause of green building."

Another common thread connecting the CaGBC team is a passion for LEED.

Annette Horvath, Saskatchewan Chapter, sees LEED as an effective vehicle for developing more sustainable communities across Canada. "We need to work on educating our audiences about the value of LEED certification. It’s not well understood. The more we demonstrate its benefits and show how to achieve LEED certification with no additional costs, the more we can change the negative perceptions."

With the range of skills and talents at work within the CaGBC, what motivates these women? For most, the answer is a deep commitment to sustainable building and its advantages for our society.

Hazel Farley, Greater Toronto Chapter, says her position gives her "an opportunity to direct and shape the future of the Chapter – with the added bonus of staying connected with the green building industry from an expanded perspective."

Gayle Maltais says Thomas Mueller, CaGBC President & CEO, opened the door for her. "Thomas painted a vision of the green building industry that showed me how the organization could help change the lives of Canadians and how I could help lead a team that was motivated by passion and a level of engagement I simply hadn’t encountered in my past professional life," recalls Gayle.

Gayle describes the green building industry as very inclusive. "Everyone involved, from architects and engineers to realtors and product developers, is interested in working toward a better built environment. Ask questions. Volunteer. You will find your special niche because the industry needs such a diverse range of skills sets to move forward regardless of your gender."

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Jasper’s living classroom
by Jay Kosa, Living Building Challenge

The Jasper Sustainability Club for Youth is the inspiration behind a Jasper classroom that is catching international attention.

As the Communty Coordinator for the Living Building Challenge, I interact with our Ambassadors (trained volunteers) and project team members on a daily basis. Unfortunately, because these dedicated individuals work to transform communities around the globe, I rarely get to see and connect with them or their projects beyond phone conversations or emails. That's why I was overjoyed to watch this video and discover the story behind it.

Jasper's Living Classroom

At Living Future 12 last spring, the Jasper Sustainability Club for Youth, a group of high schoolers led by their teacher Adam Robb, gave a presentation to a thousand green building professionals.

They expressed frustration that the city of Jasper elected not to incorporate the Living Building Challenge (and other suggestions) into the plans for a new school. They spoke on behalf of a generation deeply concerned about the growing disconnect between people and nature, and the long-term environmental ramifications of short-term thinking. These students had the courage to demand change from the people most qualified to help them.

It's only fitting that Stacy Smedley, a Living Building Challenge Hero from Seattle, stepped forward and answered the call. As a co-lead with KMD Architects on a pro bono Living Building Challenge project (the Bertschi School Science Wing), Stacy possessed all the necessary experience and conviction to help. Over the summer, Stacy started the SEED (Sustainable Education Every Day) Collective and began working with the Jasper students on a Living, portable classroom.

Once completed next September, the classroom will educate students from three Jasper schools about their impacts on the environment. The building will even come with a "SEED packet" of hands-on lessons in sustainability. Children will be able to monitor their own water and energy performance as they endeavor to use no more of either resource than they can source on site. They'll also be able to enjoy the space knowing it's free of toxic, Red List materials.

By learning in, and from, this classroom, students will come to expect their future homes and places of work to meet or exceed the Living Building Challenge standard. Stacy's hope is that this classroom can be replicated at schools around the world.

It's not always easy to explain to people what I mean when I say we want to create a "Living Future," but I think the work Stacy, Adam and these students are doing captures the essence of our mission quite nicely. Thank you, from all of us here at the Institute.

Watch the video or read an Edmonton Journal article about the initiative.

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Headline highlights!

Following is a selection of recent media articles that feature a variety of topics of interest to Alberta’s sustainable building community.

Headline highlights!

Fort Mac sets its sights on sustainable growth (Sept. 14, Globe and Mail) - From its fur trade in the early 1800s to its salt plant and sawmills in the mid-1900s, this northern community in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo regional municipality has nurtured intrepid pioneers and enterprising thinkers.

CaGBC Grappling with How to Make Buildings Regenerative (Sept. 26, AxiomNews) - How’s your marriage going? If you’ve answered “sustainable,” your relationship might not be living up to everything you’d hoped for when you tied the knot.

Canada joins healthy schools push (Sept. 27, DesignBUILD Source) - The green building industry in Canada has joined the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and others in the push toward healthier schools and better physical learning environments.

Shining in a dark market (Oct. 16, Edmonton Journal) - Even with a green message that resonates with a broad market base, the solar industry has had its setbacks. Economic upheaval and subsidy cuts led to a glut of products. This put pressure on Toronto-based Morgan Solar Inc. to find a way to compete beyond its price value proposition.

Green wall of fame just keeps growing (Oct. 23, Edmonton Journal) - Hanging on the wall in the foyer of the Manasc Isaac office are numerous awards for the architect firm’s designs. The awards include a Governor General’s Medal and a Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Innovation Award, plus LEED recognition. They recently added to their achievement wall, when they were awarded Western Living magazine’s Designer of the Year in the Eco Design category.

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For more information on the Alberta Chapter of the CaGBC visit: www.abcagbc.org