The on-site geothermal system and a high-performance building envelope reduce off-site energy consumption by nearly half compared to a reference project.
Smart decisions pay off for zero carbon performance
Though the building’s construction predates the ZCB standard by a decade or so, the building was seemingly conceived in almost perfect harmony with it. The main ecological objectives of the building were, among others, the significant reduction of energy consumption, the responsible management of water and the use of materials with smaller environmental footprints.
The project has no combustion systems, and the requirement for off-site hydroelectric electricity for heating and cooling is reduced by almost half due to the building’s geothermal system in conjunction with a high-performance envelope. While the geothermal system isn’t considered an on-site source of renewable energy for the ZCB standard, it makes a significant impact on energy consumption, and Rayside Labossière plans to use it again in their upcoming office expansion.
The distribution of heat is ensured by a ventilation system with air exchanger. In addition, the building was built with exterior walls, windows, and a roof that provide great thermal insulation. Triple-glazed windows provide better thermal performance as well as an increase in the temperature of the inner pane, which increases comfort. Along with low-energy lighting, these different elements make it possible to achieve a total reduction of at least 50 per cent of energy consumption.
With respect to responsible water management, all plumbing systems included low-flow aerator nozzles to reduce water consumption, dual-flush toilets, and the office was equipped with a waterless urinal. Though these elements are more commonplace now, they were much harder to source in 2005– before the EPA even published the WaterSense program. The green roof allows for a further reduction in rainwater discharges. Today, the roof continues to be productive and includes a thriving beehive.
From an embodied carbon perspective, Rayside Labossière took care during the initial project to focus on the responsible use of building materials, relying on recycled materials as well as local and easily renewable materials. For example, kitchen cabinets, moldings and furniture are made from straw panels, while hardwood floors came from certified forests.
The many benefits of zero carbon
Rayside Labossière prides itself on its dedication to sustainable design and constantly seeks to keep abreast of current best-practices. For the firm, certifications help direct internal knowledge-gathering, while the results serve as an independent validation that the strategies they employ deliver quantifiable results.
A key selling feature of the ZCB-Design certification is that it is not only technologically feasible but also financially viable. Even in 2005, the cost premium for Rayside Labossière’s project was approximately 10 per cent more than standard construction and within approximately 10 years they have seen a simple payback from decreased operating costs. More important to the firm was the knowledge that they were building in a sustainable way that minimizes the impact of the project throughout its life—and improves the lives of the people living and working in the building.
For Rayside Labossière, achieving the ZCB – Performance certification confirms the success of the original design and the attention to ongoing operations. It affirms their commitment to addressing climate change and demonstrates the firm’s capacity to design sustainable projects even with modest budgets. It gives them first-hand experience with the ZCB – Performance standard, which is of growing interest to their clients. Most significantly, the positive experience on this certification has motivated them to pursue both ZCB-Design and ZCB-Performance certification for their new office expansion.
This was our first time working with the Zero Carbon Building Standard and it was a great experience. The standard’s objectives are reasonable, and the certification process was streamlined, with prompt and clear support from the CaGBC team.