Developer: East Port Properties
Prime Consultant Engineer: Ruitenberg Inc
Sustainability Consultant: East Port Properties
Mechanical Engineer: Barber Engineering Services
Structural Engineer: Laurence Smith
Electrical Engineer: MCW
Landscape Architect: DesignPoint Engineering & Surveying
Builder: Lindsay Construction
CaGBC members involved with this project: East Port Properties, MCW, and VELUX
Building a New Generation of Zero Carbon Warehouses
Located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the Wilkinson Warehouses are multi-tenant warehouse buildings. Developer and property manager East Port Properties intended the facilities to be built to a next-generation standard. To achieve this, they joined Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) pilot project to combine their knowledge of efficient warehouse design with CaGBC’s new certification.
Within the Wilkinson project, the larger development will include a series of four or five multi-tenant warehouses totaling approximately 300,000 square feet. The first phase of the project was a 65,000-square-foot building. For this build, East Port—working in partnership with Efficiency Nova Scotia—focused on designing a building that would keep tenants’ operating costs as low as possible. Their efforts paid off, with the Wilkinson project receiving its Zero Carbon-Design certification.
Reimagining Industrial Class Assets
East Port Properties prides itself on developing and managing high-performance buildings, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) certified buildings. They are known for developing, building, and operating the first LEED-certified multi-tenant warehouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia, as well as the first LEED Gold Certified office building in St. John’s, Newfoundland. With the pilot program, East Port felt they could advocate for multi-tenant industrial real estate, an asset class that isn’t typically top of mind during the development of building standards—despite representing over two billion square feet of real estate in 11 Canadian markets. With East Port’s experience in the industrial space, they felt it was possible to create a comfortable, leasable building and to provide tenants with a $0 central heating bill.
Getting to Zero Carbon
Making $0 central heating a reality required 355 Wilkinson’s design feature a tight and well-insulated building envelope. Based on experience with previous LEED-certified warehouses, the East Port team knew the key elements that would have significant impact on building energy use: reduced infiltration, better insulation values, efficient heating systems, and automated controls to reduce dependence on human intervention to operate the system.
East Port started with insulated tilt-up concrete sandwich panels to provide continuous R-20 insulation value in the warehouse, and a durable concrete surface suitable for industrial use. Further infiltration reduction was achieved by using vertical-storing dock levelers, a product typically used in cold storage warehouses to keep the cold in. They also upgraded the insulation value of the roof to R-40.
The building is heated with central in-floor heat supplied via air-to-water heat pumps. The central heating system consists of six air-to-water heat pumps and a peak-load/back-up condensing natural gas boiler that provides a constant floor temperature of 17°C. The hot water distribution is provided by electronically commutated motor (ECM) circulator pumps in single-bay zones.
Additional heating is supplied by overhead unit heaters that are metered and billed directly to the tenant. Controls were put in place to stop in-floor heating circulators from running in areas with open overhead doors. With the tenant-metered overhead unit heaters making up for open doors, tenants become more aware of the cost implications of how they operate their premises.
East Port also installed a net-metered solar photovoltaic (PV) system through Nova Scotia Power’s Net Metering program. The system is sized to offset the cost of fuel sources—assuming a heating energy intensity of 1.6 e-kWh per square foot. With these heating considerations, a tenant could see a $0 central heating bill with less frequent door openings.