Project Owner/Developer: Omers and CPPIB
Architect: Tolchinsky & Goodz Architects
LEED Consultant: Halsall & Associates
Mechanical Engineer: McKee Engineering
The following case study was written using responses previously provided for a LEED Spotlight in March 2015, and is the result of an interview with Cheryl Barrett, Property Manager at Oxford Properties Group about why occupant health and wellness is becoming increasingly important.
A green retrofitted office building that sets a great example in Canada’s capital
Constitution Square is a three tower office complex with interconnecting spaces from the parking levels to the third floor. Tolchinsky & Goodz Architects' vision and creation of a Class A office complex over a period of twenty years was seamlessly achieved with the construction of Towers I, II and III in 1986, 1991 and 2007 respectively. Achieving LEED is part of Oxford Properties’ strategic business plan across the country and across the office portfolio of assets.
As such, it wasn't a particular market driver that drove Oxford to pursue LEED EB:O&M Platinum, but instead a global initiative to make their buildings as efficient and sustainable as possible. “We know that companies need to keep up with society's fast changing expectations to be successful,” said Barrett. “LEED is aligned with our strategic approach to sustainability – it helps us be a leader in the industry, take a performance-based approach to greening our buildings, and exceed the expectations of our customers and business partners.”
This was made clear in an Oxford study they conducted of over 2,000 Canadian office workers - clear among the results were high approval ratings for work spaces that adopted strong sustainability practices. Over one-third of respondents stated an environmental focus was very important to them, consistently ranking it high among desirable workplace features and beating out options such as access to an on-site gym and innovative design.
For this LEED Platinum retrofit, strategies included:
- An Energy Star score of at least 94, meaning Constitution Square is in the top five per cent of buildings for energy performance.
- Occupant Comfort Survey – Exploration on issues that affect workers comfort, such as air quality, temperature, noise or odour.
- Indoor Air Quality – Audit of the building to look for sources of potential air contamination and address any issues found.
- Sub-metering – Water and energy sub-metering at the building to understand where your water/energy is being used, which helps you target reduction efforts.
- Energy efficient washroom fixtures that reduce water consumption.
The value of certification – part of the broader picture
Having a green certified building brings pride and excellence to the company. The global focus on LEED in the office sector provides a framework with which to bench mark performance and set goals. It is also one of the ways Oxford measures their performance success using independent external sources. As an example, for the second year in a row, in 2014 Oxford Properties Group earned the top spot in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey which evaluated 637 real estate portfolios.
“The day that one of our buildings achieves LEED certification is important – both to recognize the building's performance level and reward the team's effort to get there. It is, however, part of a broader picture. Our commitment to green buildings is part of our culture and integrated into our way of doing business – we rigorously benchmark our whole building energy performance against other buildings in our portfolio and externally, set portfolio and site level reduction targets, mandate core programs across our portfolio (e.g. real time energy meters, re-commissioning), develop and execute action plans, and periodically monitor and report on progress. It is all part of an effort to ensure our buildings are improving over time and achieving ‘their best possible performance’, which of course supports the LEED recertification process when it comes time to recertify.”
Strategy includes bringing health and wellness to the community
In addition to LEED Platinum EB:O&M status, Oxford is making great strides for continued wellness in the Ottawa community. Some highlights of active programs include a 'take the stairs' campaign – encouraging people use the stairwells for exercise; Constitution Square also launched a produce pick-up program at their building in the summer of 2015, partnering with local farms to encourage the use of fresh, local food for occupant personal or corporate use.
For occupants, LEED is an important part of framing the discussion and driving a clear and simple understanding of what a green building is. As an example, they have implemented joint-landlord tenant green teams and implemented sustainability themed lobby events across their 18M sq. ft. Canadian office portfolio. These meetings (with 200+ tenant contacts) and events (touching 25,000+ occupants) help them engage with customers around green opportunities and pain points in the building – both of which help improve the overall performance of the building.
Constitution Square also has a fully engaged Green Team in Ottawa who meets quarterly to discuss tenant priorities surrounding green initiatives and wellness. Further, having achieved the Platinum level of certification, there is enhanced levels of focus on the following:
- The building's location makes it easier for occupants to choose a lower impact, more healthy form of commuting (transit, walking, biking, etc.), and over 75% of occupants elected to do so.
- Oxford's commitment to using 100% "green" certified cleaning products reduces the amount of harmful chemicals that building occupants may come in contact with.
- Oxford has elected to minimize the use of harmful pesticides (both inside and outside the building), harmful de-icing products, and harmful fertilizers.
- Oxford has verified that a sufficient level of fresh air is being provided to all spaces in the building. This leads to more alert, awake, and productive occupants.
This idea of a holistic approach is something Oxford's Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Andrew McAllan also firmly believes in: "LEED certification is not just about securing the best energy efficiency ratings for our buildings. We take a holistic approach to sustainability that also encompasses the wellness of our tenants' employees. If we can create great and healthy workplaces, we provide a platform for employees to perform at their optimum levels while, at the same time, reducing our environmental footprint," he says.
Additional Project Features
The entire complex encompasses a surface area of 24.29 acres with Tower I at 313,290 square feet, Tower II at 395,177 square feet and Tower III at 349,579 square feet. Due to the tapered design of the complex, the typical floor sizes vary from 21,000 square feet and four corners to 17,504 square feet and fourteen corners. The exterior finish is of reflective blue-gray glazing, cobalt blue curtain-wall framing and marine blue granite panels combined with an inverted roof.Over fifty trees line the complex offering a brilliant contrast between the lush greenery and profound marine blue granite.
Six stylized exterior entrances enter into the high-ceilinged lobbies, framed with flame-cut marine blue granite walls and columns, accented by granite floors and custom-designed carpets. The design and architecture of the building lobbies offer an impressive welcome to tenants and visitors to the complex. The tastefully modern black leather furniture present inviting corner seating areas among the lush greenery and Canadian art work. The spacious common areas on the second floor are principally designed with the same marine blue granite panels, stainless steel handrails, signage plaques and complemented with Canadian art work. The sophisticated personality of the complex continues into the granite paneled elevator cabs finished with engraved stainless steel and polished granite trim.
Further, the complex included four levels of underground parking, a fitness centre, conference/business centre, 24 hour security and two outdoor terraces on the third floor.