July 2011

In This Issue:

Calendar of events

Our team helps Slave Lake

LEED Gold: Calgary's Bayer offices

New fall workshops

St. Albert fire hall

Maintaining your credentials

St. Joseph Seminary  

Book review – Balance of Nature

Mazankowski:  LEED Silver

U.S. green building surge


Calendar of Events

Join/Renew your Alberta Chapter membership

August 4-October 27
Registration deadline for LEED credential upgrading

August 19
Deadline for Prairie Wood Design Nominations

September 12-16
Passive House Design training program - Calgary

October 4-7
2011 Greenbuild - Toronto

October 7
Alberta Construction Magazine's Top Projects Award nomination deadline 

October 12-14
CDBI National Design-Build Conference: Embracing the Challenge of Change -Edmonton 

October 25-26
Construction Industry Leaders Forum - Toronto 

October 26
LEED for Homes workshop

October 27
Registration deadline for LEED credential upgrading

November 7
2011 Prairie Wood Design Awards- Edmonton

November 14-15
Infrastructure Partners Conference – Edmonton

December 1
Alberta Construction Magazine’s Top Projects Awards gala - Calgary 

Perspectives is the bimonthly e-newsletter of the Alberta Chapter, Canada Green Building Council.

Teamwork supports Slave Lake green building

Albertans - and Canadians from across the country - opened their hearts and wallets after the disaster to help the victims of the Slave Lake fires. Help was instant and appreciated.

Now, a couple of months after the disaster, Slave Lake is starting to rebuild - and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC), the Alberta Chapter, CaGBC and Edmonton-based Ecological Homes have teamed up to offer some good news for Slave Lake residents.

The CaGBC is picking up the tab for any Slave Lake rebuild project to register for LEED certification - and Ecological Homes is paying for LEED certification for all Slave Lake fire rebuilding projects until August 31, 2012.

"A lot of businesses have been stepping up to plate to help Slave Lake, and we want to do our part as well," said Les Hagen, president of Ecological Homes, which provides affordable green building solutions for help designing and building green homes.

Tanya Doran, Alberta Chapter Executive Director, is busy making local arrangements for Slave Lake residents who want to pursue the option of a sustainable home. "The community is literally rebuilding from the foundations, up. Out of their nightmare comes an opportunity for Slave Lake to reap the benefits of sustainable homes," she said. "With the Canada Green Building Council and builders such as Ecological Homes assuming the costs of LEED registration and certification we are opening the doors to a world of new options for the community."

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Perspectives had prepared an article for the May 2011 edition featuring the Slave Lake home of Reg Carr and Cathy Shultz. The home, which received only minor damage in the fires, is scheduled for completion in August. Because of the disaster, Perspectives chose not to run the feature, but Slave Lake's newspaper, the Lakeside Leader published it on June 22. Below is the original article.

Gold Rush in the North

Don't you just love it when people put their money where their mouths are - especially when their actions have a happy ending?

Reg Carr and Cathy Shultz of Canyon Creek on Lesser Slave Lake are, indeed, happy with their decision to build a new home that stays true to their environmental principles. And their beautiful, soon-to-be-completed 1,700-square-foot-home is going for LEED Gold certification!

Reg and Cathy approached Les Hagen, president of Ecological Homes, an Edmonton-based company that provides affordable green building solutions for help designing and building their green dream home.

"The Carr-Shultz residence is our flagship project," says Les. "This home is an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to deliver a high-quality, energy-efficient - and yet affordable - ecological home."

The two-storey home, located beside Alberta's largest self-contained lake, includes loads of energy-efficient features. "We modelled the house with HOT2000 software, which provides a detailed snapshot of energy performance and cost implications of various design options. Reg and Cathy wanted a custom design so we were able to consider the impact of each decision on energy efficiency."

The home includes: 

  • structural insulated panel walls with R28 rating, 
  • R60-rated attic ceiling insulation, 
  • a solar thermal hot water system, 
  • passive solar heating using south-facing windows with triple-pane fibreglass frames, 
  • doors and windows that are rated for Energy Star® Zone D performance, 
  • high-efficiency furnace and heat recovery ventilator, 
  • building products such as Hardie Plank composite siding, fibreglass shingles and durable composite decking that have a minimum 50-year life cycle, and 
  • ecologically friendly interior materials including a bamboo floor, recycled content tiling, and doors and cabinets made from FSC® wood.

"It's a LEED house from top to bottom," Les sums up. "The home is expected to achieve an EnerGuide rating of 86. That's a very high standard of efficiency that will cut the total energy consumption almost in half."

Les says a standard new house rates anywhere from 66 to 74 on the EnerGuide scale, with a typical energy-efficient new house rating between 75 and 79. The EnerGuide rating system describes a house rating above 80 as "excellent," with substantially reduced energy consumption.

Cost is the second important pillar of the ecological home. "Affordable green building is what we're all about. A green home shouldn't put you in the red," notes Les.

He says the Slave Lake home will be completed in the $400,000 range, which is definitely on the lower end of the affordability scale of highly efficient LEED homes.

"We work with the homeowner from the design stage forward to control costs. A lot of the decision making is in the hands of the homeowner, and a major factor in the final cost is finding ways such as using panelized and pre-fab building materials to reduce labour costs."

Les sees good potential for the costs of green homes and solar energy to decrease over time. "Today, there is an exponential cost curve to green building. Above a certain threshold, costs skyrocket. We're trying to land on the knee of that curve and to produce a cost-efficient and energy-efficient home."

The home is expected to be completed by late June.

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Bayer employees give LEED a Gold star

For the 70+ Bayer CropScience employees, their new office space in Calgary's Quarry Park has proven a win-win-win-win situation.

Win 1: The 2,600 m² fit-out project, over one and a half floors of the building, includes loads of sustainability features. Key highlights:

  • Lighting. Motion detectors are installed on all lights, so it's lights out on all vacant rooms within minutes of the occupants leaving. As well, the space makes great use of the ample natural light. The enclosed offices around the perimeter share the natural light with interior work spaces through glass walls.
  • Energy efficiency. Everything from the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) design to appliances and computers contribute to energy reduction and reduced operating expenditures. For example, all computers are set to go to an energy-saving mode within 10 minutes of their last use. 
  • Water conservation. All taps in washrooms and a gym are low flow as are the toilets and urinals. 
  • Use of recycled materials. Recycled materials make up some of the wall materials and are a component in the carpeting as well. 
  • Reduced carbon footprint. The building has excellent access to transit, and employees are encouraged to get out of their cars. As well, the entire Quarry Park development is set up as a modern urban village with a mix of retail, business and residential that offers basic services and promotes walking.

Win 2: The sustainable space in Calgary supports Bayer's global vision. The global giant is committed to reducing environmental headaches - and their clout is considerable.

"There are 220,000 Bayer employees world-wide. When the computers all across our network automatically go into energy-saving mode when they are silent for 10 minutes, that makes a difference," said Derrick Rozdeba, Manager of Integrated Communications.

Win 3: Calgary's Bayer employees have learned that going green doesn't mean you have to sacrifice aesthetics.

"This is a really great building. Some people think you have to give up attractiveness for efficiency and sustainability. Absolutely not," cheered Derrick.

Features such as the cork floors in the entrance and boardroom add to the ambience. "They are really lovely. They look like wood."

Win 4: LEED Gold! The project team was advised in early July of their certification - and they are proud as punch. "We were shooting for Silver - and were blown away when we received Gold certification."

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New workshops offered this fall

Check it out! Two new 300 level workshops on Solar Energy: Best Practices for Residential Buildings and Design, Installation, Green Economics: Strategies for Making Green Buildings Financially Successful and Management of Rainwater Harvesting Systems will be offered this fall in Alberta.

"The Chapter is delighted to offer these specialized sessions to our members and others interested in keeping on top of the emerging technologies in our profession," says Tanya.

The workshops were developed in partnership with the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority. Dates are being determined. Stay tuned for more details.

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St. Albert fire hall eager to set milestone

Do the numbers add up for the City of St. Albert's Fire Hall No. 3? Will the impressive, eco-friendly new headquarters for the city's fire service become the first LEED Gold certified fire hall in Alberta?

While the St. Albert team eagerly awaits the official announcement about their quest for gold, a quick review of the project offers some impressive stats:

  • More than 90% of the building has access to natural light. 
  • Water consumption, on average, has been reduced by 75 per cent compared to other fire halls through the use of low flow faucets, showerheads and water-efficient landscaping. 
  • Specific building materials were used to reduce the station's carbon footprint:
    • 15% of the building materials contain recycled content, 
    • 20% of the materials were manufactured locally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and
    • a minimum of 50% of certified wood products were used in construction. 
  • For the first two years of operation, 100% of the building's estimated electricity requirement was purchased from wind power, again reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The building features a white roof to help keep the facility cooler in summer and warmer in the winter. Work spaces feature individual environmental controls.

Clearly, the St. Albert team kept focused on LEED requirements during design and construction - an incredibly difficult task considering the building was constructed during the 2007 construction boom in Alberta.

"We considered both immediate and future environmental benefits at every stage of design and construction," says Tracy Allen, Capital Projects Manager for the City of St. Albert. "For example, we chose the flooring based on VOC emissions and recycled content, as well as considerations for long-term durability and maintenance."

PCL Construction showed their commitment to sustainability on the job site. "They set up systems that made best use of resources throughout the months of construction."

These included: 

  • recyclable material that was sorted into bins on site, and 
  • all waste leaving the site was weighed and accounted for.

The results speak for themselves, with approximately 85 metric tonnes of construction waste - about 85% of the total waste from the project - diverted from local landfills.

The team also considered the facility's long-term durability and maintenance, creating a civic environment that encouraged eco-friendly behaviours. "We wanted to ensure the project resulted in a really good balance of both immediate and future environmental benefits," Tracy added.

Staff are encouraged to use alternate forms of transportation such as carpooling, bicycling and public transit. As well, the fire hall follows a green cleaning policy with only eco-friendly cleaners allowed.

The St. Albert project team is proud of the building - and so are the 56 emergency services personnel and eight administrative staff who call the fire hall home during their work days.

"It's a pleasure to work at Fire Station No.3," says Bernd Gretzinger, Deputy Chief - Logistics. "This building is a premier facility and also a leader in environmental best practices."

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Maintaining your LEED credentials

Alberta Chapter Executive Director Tanya Doran has some advice for you: keep focused on your deadline!

If you're a LEED AP with Specialty and have chosen to maintain your credentials through the credential maintenance process, you must earn 30 hours every two years. LEED Green Associates must earn 15 hours over the same period.

"Two years seems like a long time, but break that time up into annual quarters. You have eight quarters to earn your points," says Tanya. "How many points have you earned since May? That's one quarter gone."

The two-year period that begins the day you upgrade. It includes activities such as active participation in Chapter activities (serving on the Board, attending workshops or the AGM), presenting workshops, writing articles of substantive length (at least 1,000 words), participation on LEED projects, etc. Credential maintenance for other, related organizations also is likely to be counted toward CE providing it has been approved for this education.

For more information on CE, check out the Canada Green Building Council website.

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Edmonton seminary embodies permanence, peace and sustainability

Photo credit Jason Ness PhotographyChange can mean opportunity - for leaders with vision and determination.

Such is the case with St. Joseph Seminary, an Edmonton landmark since 1927. Owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the seminary has expanded and moved locations several times in its history, most recently to accommodate construction of Edmonton's Anthony Henday ring road.

At the outset of the project in 2007, the Archbishop of Edmonton made one remarkably influential statement: "The Catholic Church thinks in hundreds of years."

Photo credit Jason Ness PhotographyThat simple declaration guided the entire design, helping to create a beautiful seminary with a sense of permanence - and 21st century sustainability features that are targeting LEED Silver. Those features include the use of: 

  • high recycled content steel, 
  • operable windows, 
  • daylighting, and 
  • energy efficient electrical/mechanical design.

The exterior material finishes draw from the character of the site and from St. Joseph's Basilica, the flagship of the Edmonton Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The combination of stone, brick, metal and glass provide a quiet, elegant palette. The composition of the materials expresses the three major elements in the seminary - the chapel, the community spaces and the residence.

DIALOG, an integrated multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, interior designers, urban designers and planners, was the prime consultant on this project, providing a fully integrated design approach. DIALOG's integrated team was led by Donna Clare, principal and lead architect, and included Alberta Chapter President Trina Larsen, an electrical engineer.

While the team is still awaiting word on their quest for LEED Silver, the project is a multi-award winner, so far earning: 

  • an Award of Merit, 2011 Illumination Awards, The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and 
  • an Award of Excellence - Buildings Category, American Concrete Institute Awards - Alberta Region.

The seminary is located at 9828 - 84 St., Edmonton.

Photo credit:  Jason Ness Photography

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Book Review by Trina Larsen, P.Eng., M.Sc, LEED AP +
Balance of Nature - Ecology's Enduring Myth 
by: John Kricher, 2009

"The Earth's collective biodiversity is experiencing its sixth major extinction event since multicellular life first evolved. It is also passing through a period of rapid climate change, a change that is likely forced by anthropogenic actions." 
- John Kricher 

The buildings that we, as building professionals, design and construct impact the surrounding flora and fauna. But have we disrupted the balance of nature? This book seeks to counter the myth of balance of nature, without negating human impact. 

Mr. Kricher takes us on a journey through changes in human understanding of ecological processes and in actual evolutionary change. Throughout, he points out there never has been, nor will there be any balance within nature. On the contrary, nature is constantly changing and evolving in order to survive both natural and anthropological impacts. 

At the same time, he doesn't let humans get off easy - he points directly to us as the cause of the current major extinction event, stating: "the human impact on Earth is staggering, and grows daily!" 

Some readers may be concerned that without a presumed natural balance, a licence is given to continue the status quo. But we're not let off the hook. Mr. Kricher finishes by showing how to ensure the sustainability of Earth's ecology while reconfirming the economic benefits of natural processes. He proposes environmental ethics that involve informed decisions towards impacts on ecological processes which result in the least harm to those processes.

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Mazankowski Heart Institute earns Silver

Congratulations to the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute on achieving LEED-NC Silver certification.

The Institute's achievement marks a milestone for Alberta - the first hospital or health centre in the province to achieve LEED certification and only the seventh in Canada to earn the honour.

There are currently 12 health care facilities registered for LEED certification in Alberta.

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A world of CaGBC education at your doorstep

Have you ever looked wistfully at the array of workshops offered by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) and imagined how great it would be to attend one of them in your own community?

Wonder no more - and start drawing up a list of your colleagues and other interested professionals whom you can invite to a workshop. The more people who attend, the more cost-effective the workshop will be.

"Every workshop on the CaGBC roster can be offered very economically as a private workshop," said Tanya Doran, Executive Director, Alberta Chapter CaGBC. "You can tailor your session however you want. Keep it formal, or have some fun and keep it informal."

Of course, economics dictate that the more attendees you attract, the more the fee can be discounted. You can count on a cost-effective session with as few as 10 participants. With 40, expect fee discounts of almost 50 per cent.

The added bonus of exploring private workshop delivery: you and your group get the same professional instruction on your own doorstep. Just supply the venue and lunch - and let the Alberta Chapter do the rest.

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U.S. green building market

Remember Laura Aune, Canadian Trade Commissioner - Dallas when she spoke at the Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium (ASBS) in May?

Laura doesn't mince words. At ASBS, she said: 

  • We used to have the argument about sustainable building in Texas. Get over it. You have a tool. Use it.
  • Last year in the U.S. alone there were 300,000 trademarks proclaiming "green" or "eco." That's a lot of greenwash.
  • LEED defines the Dallas building code.

Now she's got another message for Canadians interested in sustainable building: if we want to take advantage of "explosive growth" forecast for the U.S. green building sector, stop thinking about U.S. markets "as one monolithic market". Look to where the activity is, and focus your efforts.

Read more on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website.

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

Do you have a short submission you would like included? 
Have you discovered websites you would like to share with our members? 
E-mail Wendy Campbell, Perspectives editor.