Perspectives

Alberta Chapter

Canada Green Building Council

March 2012 

Robbins Health Learning Centre

In This Issue:

Calendar of events

Alberta Chapter 2012-13 Board

Alberta SBS program details

Vivian Manasc home

Banff's sustainable transit

Introducing aceBIM

aceBIM Board

Robbins Health Centre – LEED Silver

Product profile: concrete hardscapes

Vintage hotels – green or not?

Strathcona compound – LEED Silver

Friends design green home

Book review – Green $ense for the Home


Calendar of Events

April 3

* Green Building Economics for Municipal Leaders – Webinar #1

April 11

Government of Alberta webinar

April 18

Government of Alberta webinar

April 25

* Green Building Economics for Municipal Leaders – Webinar #2

May 3

Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium - Calgary

May 15-16

Green Associate Study Course - Edmonton

May 23

* Green Building Economics for Municipal Leaders – Webinar #3

May 29

Speed up your LEED Canada - NC.10 certification - Calgary

June 6 - 12

Canadian Society for Civic Engineering annual conference - Edmonton

June 11-13

CaGBC National Conference & Expo 2012 - Toronto

November 27-28

BIM Symposium – Edmonton

* Free webinars for registrants of the Green Building Economics for Municipal Leaders education program and Alberta Chapter members. Taken on demand April
3 - 25 and April 25 - May 3.


Alberta Chapter 2012-13 Board announced at AGM

Congratulations to re-elected Board Director Cam Munro (Red Deer North) and new Board Directors Mike Melross (Red Deer North) and Nancy Burton (Red Deer South).

Cam was elected Board Chair at the Board's first meeting on March 16.

Your 2012-2013 Board of Directors:

Andrew Bond, Director (Red Deer South)
Troy Braithwaite, Director (Red Deer South)
John Bulmer, Director (Red Deer South)
Nancy Burton, Director (Red Deer South)
Trina Larsen, Director and Past Chairperson (Red Deer North)
Mike Melross, Director (Red Deer North)
Lydia Miller, Director (Red Deer North)
Cam Munro, Chairperson
William Thompson, Director (Red Deer South)

Special thanks to Trina Larsen for her unflagging dedication to, and support of, the Alberta Chapter in her role as Chairperson. Trina served two years as Chairperson.

"Trina's professionalism and commitment to Chapter business and our industry proved an inspiration throughout her double term as Chairperson," said Tanya Doran, Alberta Chapter Executive Director. "Despite successfully managing a very demanding senior professional position, Trina was always available to lead the Chapter in a sound and sensible direction."

Elections for the three Board positions were held by electronic vote in February and announced at the AGM.

Board Director positions are for three-year terms. Three positions are available annually. This systems ensures continuity on the Board so new members can make use of the experience of veteran Directors while offering their fresh perspectives to the many issues and opportunities facing the Chapter.

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Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium program details available

The business of green: what's in it for us? Plenty – and a look at the full Symposium program proves the point.

Are you interested in large institutional initiatives? We've got sessions featuring hospitals, schools and a university.

The May 3 Symposium also offers a variety of sessions related to:

  • green building design
  • development of sustainable communities
  • residential building
  • tools to help improve sustainability
  • innovative approaches to reducing energy consumption and costs

An energetic Green Business Speed Dating session offers a potpourri of tasty subjects devoted to the Symposium theme. And there are still some booth spaces left in the Green Building Innovation Showcase. Check out the details.

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Manasc home – targeting net-zero

Check out the Saturday, March 24 Edmonton Journal feature about Vivian Manasc's impressive home overlooking Edmonton downtown. Vivian, principal at Manasc Isaac Architects, said she's targeting near net-zero energy use in the unique home.

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Banff's transit infrastructure underlines sustainability vision

"The (transit maintenance and storage) building . . . increases employee comfort and productivity and will provide significant operational and environmental savings over a longer lifespan."

- Chad Townsend, Town of Banff Environmental Coordinator

The Town is Banff is riding the green wave with its hybrid bus fleet and the new bus-fleet maintenance and storage facility.

In 2008, Banff became Canada's first municipality to introduce an all-hybrid (diesel electric) bus fleet – increasing ridership by almost 50 per cent after their introduction. The maintenance and storage facility followed soon afterward. The combination of the bus fleet and the bus facility illustrate the town's commitment to sustainable practices.

"The Town of Banff understands its location represents both a responsibility and an opportunity," says Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. "We have a responsibility to limit environmental impacts particularly as part of a national park community. On the other hand, we have an opportunity to show millions of visitors our commitment to sound environmental stewardship."

The 1,260-square-metre bus facility building incorporates many green features including:

  • 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.

The environmental features represent about $1.5 million of the project's total $5.2 million price tag, but the Town considers the savings, aesthetics, comfort and convenience over its lifetime will be more than repaid.

That clarity of thought and long-term vision led the Town of Banff to pass its Municipal Sustainable Building Policy in 2007. The transit facility was the first new municipal building constructed after the policy was passed.

The Municipal Sustainable Building Policy requires new municipal buildings with a footprint of 500 square metres or greater to meet or exceed the requirements for LEED Silver certification. New buildings smaller than 500 square metres, renovations and other projects where a LEED standard may not apply require design and construction to reflect triple-bottom line principles.

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BIM Centre of Excellence – dedicated to making Alberta a leader in BIM

Alberta understands the happy marriage between productivity and competitiveness – and the new Alberta Centre of Excellence for Building Information Modeling (aceBIM) is all about increasing productivity throughout the province's construction industry.

Klaas Rodenburg, aceBIM Chief Executive Officer as well as Sustainable Design Coordinator for Stantec, says aceBIM will fulfil a pivotal role in increasing productivity and efficiency at all levels of the industry.

The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to the provincial economy, accounting for about 35 per cent of capital investment according to Construction Alberta Magazine. The industry, however, is not operating anywhere near peak efficiency.

And so the task for aceBIM is clear to improve productivity and precision in all stages of construction by developing widespread understanding of the technologies and tools available through BIM and getting the industry to use the available tools.  

"The centre will move technology forward, building capacity and sharing best practices," says Klaas. "Building capacity will involve training and education via institutes and the workplace, and sharing information among companies and institutes."

Klaas is moving full speed ahead on strategic programming even as he manages the centre's business imperatives. aceBIM is now officially registered as a not-for-profit Alberta corporation, and he is now developing the foundations of the organization.

Led by a board of 14 senior industry leaders, aceBIM offers three working committees:

  • Implementation
  • Education and Awareness, and
  • Research and Development

"The centre is virtual right now and likely to remain so. We hope to have a couple hundred members within the next few years." Founding members represent:

  • the design and construction industry (PCL, Clark Builders, Dialog, Group2, Stantec, ARPI's and the Edmonton Construction Association,
  • post-secondary educational institutions (NAIT, SAIT, University of Alberta and the University of Calgary),
  • building owners (Alberta Infrastructure), and
  • manufacturers (AWMAC Southern Alberta Chapter and Landmark Homes).

Klaas expects the Centre to act as the catalyst for leading a revolution in the province's design and construction sectors.

"I truly believe BIM is capable of revolutionizing these sectors in Alberta and around the world because every country understands the bottom-line need to increase productivity."

John Leurdyke, Director of Building Products and Technologies with Alberta Treasury Board and Enterprise and a member of the aceBIM Board, says BIM's potential is enormous. "BIM has shown it can improve productivity by 30-50 per cent," he says.

It can achieve this paradigm shift by facilitating an integrated approach to design, documentation, construction and building maintenance, and providing a central tool that brings the entire project team together.

"Clearly, we will be focusing on BIM as a tool for Integrated Project Delivery (IDP)," concludes Klaas.  "BIM is about information – sharing information from project conception through construction and operation with each link of the project chain."

The value of BIM extends decades past the project's official opening. Its information is a long-term shared resource through the building's entire life cycle – accessible, accurate, detailed and integrated for whoever needs it.

John sees BIM contributing to the accuracy of construction industry projects just as it has contributed for years to the accuracy of the automobile and aircraft manufacturing industries – where BIM originated. He references three bids received for a multi-million-dollar building for the University of Alberta. All bidders used BIM and all three bids came in within $1,000 or $2,000 of each other.

The Centre has its work cut out for it. Currently, about 30 per cent of projects within Alberta's architectural and engineering communities use BIM. Klaas is hard at work increasing that percentage. "The next logical step is for contractors, manufacturers and building owners and operators to build on the success of the design industry and leverage the knowledge added throughout every step of a building's life cycle."

aceBIM Board of Directors


Mohamed Al-Hussein Professor, Construction Engineering, University of Alberta - Director
Jeff DiBattista Principal - Dialog, Past President – Consulting Engineers of Alberta – Director, Vice-Chair
Jeff Duffield Manager, Operations Support, NAHQ, PCL Constructors Inc.  Director, Chair
Todd Grundy Vice President - ARPI's North, Director CLRA - Director
Branko Kolarevic Associate Dean (Academic Architecture, Professor and Chair in Integrated Design, University of Calgary - Director
Darlene La Trace Executive Vice President, Edmonton Construction Association - Director
John Leurdyke Director - Building Products, Industry Development Branch, Alberta Finance - Director, Secretary
Reza Nasseri  CEO Landmark Group of Builders - Director
Brian Oakley Director - Facility Planning and Architecture, Technical Services Branch, Alberta Infrastructure - Director
Allan Partridge Executive Director, Integrated Practice - Group 2 Architecture, Vice President, Canada BIM Council - Director, Treasurer
Kevin Porter Chair, Environmental Design Technology, NAIT - Director
Rodney Roll President, Executive Millwork Inc., President, Southern Alberta Architectural Wood Manufacturers Association of Canada - Director
Larry Rosia Dean - School of Construction, SAIT – Director
Paul Verheesen  President - Clark Builders - Director

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Robbins Health Learning Centre – LEED Silver

The winning combination of handsome design and functionality  along with many other sustainable features  have earned the Robbins Health Learning Centre, part of Edmonton's MacEwan University, LEED Silver.

Led by Clark Builders and Kasian Architecture Interior Design & Planning Ltd., the Centre employed a design-build methodology, encouraging innovative and creative design and implementation solutions. 

With curtainwall glass enveloping its entire front, the five-storey building is brightly lit throughout the year and provides a healthy and supportive learning environment for students of the College's departments of nursing, acupuncture, holistic medicine and therapy assistants. In total, the building houses up to 2,000 students and 300 faculty, administration and non-academic staff.

Robbins Beds

Featured in the Centre's 304,000 square feet (27,000 square metres) are an underground parkade, flexible-use space, areas for gathering and study, and lecture halls.

Other quick facts:

  • includes a centre for continuing nursing education to serve Alberta's 25,000 practising registered nurses
  • design incorporates flexible design principles so the building can be adapted to meet future requirements
  • design-build cost: $55 million
  • construction was begun in November 2005 and completed in July 2007 with the official opening held in September 2007.

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Product profiles - concrete hardscapes

by Andrea Pelland and Stephani Carter of EcoAmmo Sustainable Consulting Inc.

There are numerous options for hardscapes on the market today, and the products themselves are getting better as technology improves. The biggest decision faced by those choosing to install hardscaping is whether to use natural stone or precast concrete.  There are many environmental pro's and con's for each choice, so the right decision should be based on what features are most important to the user. 

If cost is an issue, concrete products are usually the less expensive option, depending on what is available in your area.  Concrete hardscapes are also easy to install, and in many cases, do not need the services of a professional.  Concrete is also durable and easily engineered due to its precast nature, and many companies offer complete product lines so there is a cohesiveness to your landscaping project.

Product Profiles –  Concrete Hardscapes

For those looking to use concrete hardscaping on their next project, Alberta has a local manufacturer specializing in outcropping walls, belvedere walls, steps, dimensional walls, coping and flagstone.  The product is 100% recyclable, and 98.8% of their product has been harvested, recovered and processed within 270 kilomtres of their manufacturing site in Crossfield, just north of Calgary.  For more information, visit Barkman Concrete or EcoAmmo.

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How green are vintage hotels?

Think you have to compromise your sustainable building standards during that fabulous escape weekend to the vintage hotel of your dreams? Think again, according to an article in Condé Nast Travelers magazine.

Considering factors from energy consumption to the environmental impact of not having to demolish the existing building to state-of-the-art retrofits, many of the world's vintage historic hotels can step up to the sustainability plate just fine, thank you!

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Strathcona County earns LEED Silver

Strathcona County earns LEED SilverCongratulations to Strathcona County's achievement of LEED Silver for its parks compound - the most recent project in Alberta to be recognized with the prestigious designation.

The building, located in Sherwood Park, is the central hub for the county's parks operations. It is home to the 1-kW solar PV array, mounted against a vertical wall near the main entry. Opened in 2007, the compound is Strathcona County's project in the Alberta Solar Showcase.  

As with all projects earning LEED designations, the parks compound project team included sustainable elements literally from the ground up. Consider the following LEED requirements:

Sustainable site:

  • A LEED Silver prerequisite requires that an erosion and sedimentation control plan that meets requirements be developed; the County complied.
  • Site selection for the compound earned a point.
  • Alternative transportation, public transportation access also earned a point; two bus lines are located within 400 metres of the building.

Water efficiency:

  • The project earned two points for its water-efficient landscaping because the site does not require a permanent irrigation system; landscaping was irrigated by use of a hose from a truck-mounted tank for the first year, then tapered off during the following year with no watering occurring after two years.
  • The County calculated the potable water use during the two-year establishment phase as well as submitting a landscape plan identifying planting types.
  • LEED identified two levels of required water use reduction: 20% and 30%. The parks compound project achieved a reduction of 56.3%, earning two points.

Construction waste management

  • The LEED requirement is to divert 75% of construction material from the landfill; Strathcona County achieved this goal, earning a point.
  • LEED also set a goal of using 7.5% (post-consumer and half post-industrial) recycled content; Strathcona County showed 16.8% of construction materials they used contained recycled content (post-consumer plus pre-consumer, in aggregate), earning another point.

The Alberta Solar Municipal Showcase is a renewable energy demonstration project involving 20 municipal organizations across the province. Project participants showcase grid-connected photovoltaic often called PV or solar electric – systems on highly-visible public buildings. The project explores ways participants use their showcase to educate and inform residents, building operators, inspectors, trades people and students about this technology and help to support the long-term viability of renewable energy in Alberta.

C3, supported by the City of Medicine Hat, is leading the Showcase. All participating municipal organizations are contributing equal amounts of funding for the project. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is matching the municipal contributions through its Green Municipal Fund.

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Trio turns dream to exciting reality

Trio turns dream to exciting realityHow far can three friends with a shared interest in the environment and a passion for the design and construction of custom homes take their dream?

Rob Taylor, Mike Booth and Quinn Parrott point to an eye-catching, energy-efficient, 1,616-square-foot bi-level they built in Strathcona County, near Edmonton, as their answer.

And, oh yes, they are going for LEED Canada for Homes Silver certification.

For the three, the goal was clear: design and build a genuine and affordable eco-home with enough functionality to meet the changing needs of a growing family.

"Everyone needs a place to live, so why can't everyone have a healthy, efficient home that is as environmentally sustainable as possible," says Rob, owner of Taylor Home Design and a local truss designer. "We wanted a better conceived home, one that makes greater use of space and taxes the environment far less than a traditional home."

"Our target market is the middle-class family who intends to put down roots in their new community. We knew we could bring both environmental benefits and a more functional home to the average family."

The trio started with an existing, popular home design, explains Mike, who handles the day-to-day operations of H & S Jones Construction, a custom home builder in Sherwood Park owned by Mike's father-in-law. "We examined its design, construction, mechanical systems and interior finishes seeing where we could improve the home in terms of both saving the future owner money and reducing the cost to the environment of building that home."

Then they got innovative. For example, they engineered the window and door headers to address specific load-bearing needs; this reduced the amount of wood used. As well, during the framing stage they took the time to apply a mastic sealant wherever two pieces of wood touched.

"This added 10-15% to the framing bill," says Quinn, owner of Triangle Construction, "but it resulted in a super low rate of air loss."

"Our changes increased the health and comfort of the home," continues Rob. "As well as reducing drafts, we installed a heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system to remove toxins from the air while increasing the efficiency of the mechanical system. We used wool carpeting to minimize off-gases and selected interior paints with zero volatile organic compound (VOC) to ensure the house is healthy."

The enthusiastic builders employed other green measures, too, including:

  • wrapping the entire exterior in one-inch foil-faced polystyrene insulation in addition to the R20 in the walls,
  • using ultra-high efficiency fixtures and fittings to reduce water use significantly,
  • installing an electronic ignition on the fireplace to eliminate a pilot light continuously wasting gas,
  • installing a condensing hot water tank rated to 96% thermal efficiency,
  • installing landscaping to help eliminate water runoff and soil erosion, and
  • installing bamboo cabinets, a rapidly renewable resource.

"We were determined to bring the quality of the high-end homes we were involved in building to the mid-income market," explains Quinn.

That determination is evident. The bi-level, the inaugural home of the newly formed Barrett Homes, has achieved an Energuide rating of 83, much better than the 65-72 rating for the average new house built to code standards in Canada.

"We've achieved an affordable house that looks terrific inside and out, is functional and has a design that can adapt with growing families. Now all it needs is that LEED Silver certification as evidence of our commitment and respect for the environment when building it," says Rob.

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Book Review by Trina Larsen, P.Eng., M.Sc, LEED AP +

Green $ense for the Home – Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects

by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum, 2010

Green $ense for the HomeIf you're a homeowner, how can you lower your utility bills and help the planet?  How do you cut through the green wash and make changes that work?  This book provides a guide.  The authors tackle 50 home projects, assessing for both green benefits (Eric Corey Freed) and economic / practical aspects (Kevin Daum).  Often they reached the same conclusion through different assessment methods, but I also enjoyed reading the ideas where the author's viewpoints collided.

The ideas presented in the book aren't typically leading edge -- some are practical, others somewhat simplistic and there are some that would be difficult to implement.  But they're all ones that many homeowners aren't yet embracing.  Each idea has a summary of its green benefits, costs and difficulty in a sidebar, and each author provides his review.  Another sidebar lists additional resources should you want more information.  The 50 projects are further broken into projects that can be done now, as part of renovations, and when building new.  This assists readers in assessing their best options now and in the future. 

Overall, the book is well laid out and easy to follow, making decisions on your next green project easier to assess. 

Mr. Freed will be one of the keynote speakers at this year's Alberta Sustainable Building Symposium on May 3rd in Calgary.  I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say!

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   Sponsors




2001 CAGBC Sponsors


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