Two PCL Design-Built Hospitals Achieve LEED® Silver Certification

Toronto, Ontario

March 31, 2015

Rating System/Standard
Certification Level
Building Type

We spoke to Chris Gower, Executive Vice President at PCL Constructors Canada Inc. about two of PCL’s hospital projects that recently achieved CaGBC LEED® Silver certification, surpassing their targets of LEED certified. Both hospitals opened their doors in 2013 and were some of the first hospitals in their respective regions to achieve LEED Silver certification.

Key Features

Bridgepoint Hospital is considered the first purpose-built hospital designed specifically to provide care for patients needing rehabilitation, as well as those living with complex health conditions. An internationally recognized healthcare and research centre, Bridgepoint was identified in KPMG’s Infrastructure 100 Report as one of the world’s most interesting projects, designed to support healing, inspire health and innovation, and act as a welcoming, accessible focal point for patients, staff and the community. The project features a new 680,000 sq. ft. facility and the restoration of the 150-year old Don Jail, as well as surrounding public roads, civic court, park lands with panoramic views of the city and a multi-use trail. At 84,000 sq. ft., the former jail now serves as the administration building and has gone from a place of incarceration to one of innovation. A heritage site open for public viewing, the jail features an Italianate façade, vermiculated columns and cells and gallows preserved for historic purposes. The hospital and restored heritage building have won numerous awards for construction, architectural, adaptive reuse and heritage restoration.

Highlights include:

  • 29% energy cost savings relative to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB);
  • A high-performance heat recovery system, air conditioning system and high-efficiency boilers. Combined with efficient lighting systems and double-glazed windows, this system helps reduce energy consumption;
  • Environmentally-friendly features, such as a smart irrigation system that is connected to local weather stations; reintroduced native plants to the hospital landscaping; and efficient and innovative washroom fixtures;
  • 98% of the site’s construction materials were diverted from landfill.

At nearly 1M sq. ft., Niagara Health System’s St. Catharines Site is a comprehensive acute care hospital that also introduced much-needed regional services to Niagara, to provide residents with access to care closer to home. The hospital showcases state-of-the-art technology and patient-centred design features that have set new standards for hospital design. It is one of the only hospitals in the world to have a dedicated HVAC system that enables the hospital to be split into two distinct air-handling zones for complete isolation in the event of a pandemic or other significant event (independent section includes half of the Emergency Department, two Operating Suites, ICU and one inpatient unit), ensuring that regular operations can continue in the remainder of the hospital. The hospital contains the first operating suites in Canada to be lined with corian walls and has 1,400 handwashing sinks for improved infection prevention and control. It also features the largest wireless installation (Distributed Antenna System) in a Canadian hospital, enabling guaranteed wireless coverage throughout the building.

Highlights include:

  • High-performance building exterior, including a white roof that reduces heat island effect, keeping the interior temperature cooler in summer;
  • Optimized energy performance that allows the building to reduce energy cost relative to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) reference building by over 40% through efficient lighting design, extensive use of natural light throughout the building, advanced ventilation recovery systems and high-efficiency boilers and chillers;
  • A reduction in water use of nearly 35% through the use of water-efficient plumbing fixtures;
  • Water efficient landscaping – potable water use for irrigation has been reduced through the use of high-efficiency irrigation technology and drought tolerant plants;
  • Nearly 85% of construction waste was diverted from landfill.

What drove them to build green

In keeping with the Ontario Government’s green energy objectives, and the premise of delivering projects that provide best value for money for Ontario taxpayers, IO specified the green building requirements, including LEED certification. There is considerable incentive to develop a sustainable design in a DBFM project because the private sector team is also contracted to maintain the asset for an extended period of time, typically 30 years. The durability and performance of the building and its systems are therefore critical to the private sector team’s commercial success. During the RFP stage, IO also requires the private sector team to provide an Annual Energy Target (AET), the risk for which they assume during the operational phase to ensure good maintenance and operation

The value of LEED hospitals to the community

By successfully achieving LEED Silver certification, these hospitals were amongst the first in Ontario to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, setting a minimum performance standard for similar future developments to achieve. In addition, through education and communication programs, including signage and building tours, users of the facility gain a better understanding of the sustainability measures that have been implemented and are encouraged to implement similar sustainability strategies in their own lives.

Positive health impacts

By their very nature, hospitals are not efficient buildings since they have more air exchanges and require significantly more water than most other buildings. When designing these facilities, it was therefore essential to balance energy efficiency with patient comfort. This included maximizing the quality of the indoor environment and providing access to daylight. Given their function, hospitals must dispense public services in an environment that is as healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically.  Evidence-based design studies have shown that access to natural daylight and views contributes to patient rehabilitation and recovery, and feelings of wellbeing, comfort and wellness for building occupants, as well as increased productivity for hospital staff and caregivers.

Performance standards/goals

IO set some performance parameters, including mandatory LEED credits and overall certification levels. In addition to these mandated targets, the design and construction team identified additional targets that lined up with the hospitals’ vision. For example, designs for patient room windows and building skin were carefully considered to maximize exposure to daylight while maintaining comfort (in conformance to ASHRAE 55). During the bid process, the design team set LEED targets. A rigorous management and tracking process helped to ensure performance criteria was maintained and, ultimately, successfully implemented.

Energy and water savings

Both hospitals have been able to optimize energy performance, with NHS achieving a 42% reduction in design energy cost over the MNECB reference building, and Bridgepoint a 29% reduction. Potable water use for irrigation on both hospitals has been reduced by more than 50% through the use of high efficiency irrigation technology and drought tolerant plants. In addition, use of low flow fixtures has reduced water use by 32% at Bridgepoint and 35% at the St. Catharines Site.

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