Ottawa Station – VIA Rail

Ottawa, Ontario

August 10, 2020

Rating System/Standard
LEED v4.1
Certification Level
Building Type

VIA Rail’s Ottawa station is one of the Corporation’s busiest nationwide. Located at the midway point in its most travelled route, the Québec City – Windsor Corridor, this VIA Rail-owned station in the heart of the nation’s capital is a true traveller’s terminal.

The Ottawa station is the Corporation’s flagship station and one of the last of the monumental union stations built in Canada. With its modern aesthetics, this heritage building is located in the city’s east end, an area of commercial and light-industrial buildings.

In 2016, VIA Rail formalized its commitment to sustainable mobility through the publication of its first sustainable mobility report. The following year, the Ottawa station was identified as the flagship station where all new sustainability and accessibility initiatives would be piloted.

The Ottawa Train Station achieved LEED® Gold v4.1 certification for Operations and Maintenance for Existing Buildings in 2020, becoming VIA Rail’s first station to achieve LEED certification.

Sustainable travel as the destination

Sustainability is an integral part of VIA Rail’s strategic plan which prioritizes safe, accessible, efficient, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly passenger rail service. As part of its vision to be the smarter way to move people, VIA Rail embeds environmental, social, economic, and ethical considerations into its strategy and everyday operations. Making sustainable choices when it comes to building management contributes to VIA Rail’s lasting success.

For the Ottawa station, VIA Rail placed its commitment to improve the quality of its clientele’s experience at the centre of the renovation project. However, in a high-volume station like Ottawa’s, an obvious challenge to any renovation projects would be not to interrupt operations and keep premises secure for travellers. While the station underwent important renovations from 2016 to 2019 to enhance its environmental performance and accessibility, the LEED certification process for this pilot station didn’t start until 2019.

As a globally recognized green building rating system and a symbol of excellence, VIA Rail entrusted the rigorous process behind the LEED certification to ensure their flagship station reflected the Corporation’s sustainability goals. Initially, the VIA Rail team expected the process would be complex and daunting. However, they were pleasantly surprised by the overall ease of the certification process, the availability of comprehensive tools, resources, and pathways to certification.

Using LEED’s policies and best practices, VIA Rail was able to identify further areas of improvement. Those insights resulted in the implementation of the Corporation’s Facility Renovation and Maintenance Policy, Green Cleaning Policy and Purchasing Policy. The Corporation was also able to identify energy reduction measures through the required detailed energy audits.

“The certification process allowed us to identify several opportunities to improve the efficiency of the station’s operations, which then led to the implementation of changes to our building management processes and practices,” said Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer. “Ultimately, our goal is not only to enhance the travel experience, but also to go further together. And it is by modernizing our infrastructure and services, and by making them greener, that we will lead Canadians to a more sustainable future.”

The station also earned Transportation Performance credits for its convenient location. The Ottawa station connects VIA Rail’s passengers with other environmentally friendly travel options available in the National Capital Region, such as OC Transport light rail, bus services and bicycle access pathways in the warmer months. This allows commuters and visitors alike to access downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill from virtually anywhere in the Corridor with ease.

A jewel in the National Capital

The renovated Ottawa site is an energy efficient building that meets high standards in several key areas of environmental performance, including energy water consumption, waste diversion and human experience. In fact, its electrical and mechanical systems demonstrated superior energy performance, while water use was reduced through low-flow fixtures. The station also achieved a high waste management performance rate, diverting almost 50 per cent of waste from landfills.

Accessibility is another area of critical importance to VIA Rail, and at the Ottawa station, it was addressed through the installation of two elevators to facilitate access to all platforms. A heated boarding platform level with the train door for ease of boarding also features an access ramp with tactile elements for the visually impaired.

The Corporation also continuously invests in sustainable solutions for its stations and operations. Some of these initiatives include the 2019 installation of beehives on the rooftop of the station in collaboration with Alvéole and offering a service animal relief area outside the station, as well as curb to platform assistance upon request from passengers.

A first of many

As part of its commitment to modernize passenger rail service and contribute to a more sustainable, low-carbon future, the Corporation is dedicated to creating more environmentally friendly and accessible stations and maintenance centres. In fact, VIA Rail’s priorities include the reduction of its operations’ carbon footprint, the efficient utilization of resources, waste minimization, and highlighting the environmental benefits of rail transportation by convincing more Canadians to take the train.

The LEED certification of the Ottawa station was a first for VIA Rail and represents an important milestone for the Corporation, as it marks concrete action in support of its corporate sustainability commitment.

The positive impact of this pilot project has inspired VIA Rail to scale up the use of LEED principles and policies in its network. Today, VIA Rail has plans to incorporate green building requirements and credits from LEED at other stations and maintenance centres. In fact, the Corporation already initiated a LEED certification process for its Winnipeg station and envisions more projects down the road.

Obtaining the LEED Gold v4.1 certification is a milestone for VIA Rail and a great source of pride for our teams. It brings us one step closer to our green building goal and formalizes our commitment to creating more sustainable and accessible stations and maintenance centres

– Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer


Certification LevelRating SystemTotal Points earned
GoldLEED V4.1 O+M: EB68

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