Canadian Consulting Engineer

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE – BUILDINGS Centre for Sustainable Development

October 1, 2013
By Bouthillette Parizeau

Juror Comments:

Juror Comments:

“This project is a showcase of fine engineering practice in the field of sustainable development. The jury liked the idea of it being a living laboratory for educating the public in green building. The proposed environmental model is a vision of the future.”


On behalf of its client Équiterre,

Bouthillette-Parizeau provided the mechanical and electrical engineering for the Centre for Sustainable Development (Maison du développement durable) in downtown Montreal.

Built on a confined property on Ste. Catherine Street West, the complex is a centre for education in green buildings where the public can visit and learn about sustainable design. It was designed for LEED Platinum certification and built to exceed the latest environmental standards as a model for future generations. The five-storey, 68,450-sq.ft. building’s tenant spaces are mostly offices for Équiterre and other non-profit organizations.

The design team performed a rigorous analysis of the functionality, occupancy profiles, building geometry, and local climate conditions. The synergy of these analyses helped optimize the architectural performance and reduced the requirement for mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

The result is a building that consumes 64% less energy than a reference building of similar size and reduces potable water use and sewer discharges by 54%.

Energy efficiency strategies

A geothermal system satisfies nearly 100% of the building’s heating and cooling requirements. During summer cooling is provided solely by the geothermal heat pumps and a conventional water tower was not required.

Air distribution is achieved by an under-floor system which uses an air stratification strategy throughout the office areas. This measure allows for lower supply air rates and temperatures thereby reducing energy use, and it provides flexibility for reconfiguring the space. Another benefit is that no additional perimeter heating equipment is required.

In order to cool the atrium during hot summer days, windows and motorized dampers located at the top and bottom are used to create air movement. A 65-ft. tall living wall acts as an air filter, humidifier and decontaminant. Its plants and lighting were carefully chosen to promote photosynthesis. Return air is sent through the atrium for pre-treatment before being returned to the HVAC systems.

From the start, all the mechanical and electrical strategies were validated and refined by means of space usage analyses, load calculations, energy simulations and detailed heat balances.

The simplicity of the system and ease of operation was a priority to facilitate the maintenance and extend the useful life of the equipment.

Sharing knowledge

An integrated design process based on shared knowledge and collaboration between the client and all the professionals involved was used. At the design charrettes the stakeholders could use the presentation console to display their information. These recordings are now part of the educational materials and animations used to explain the building’s innovative construction to the users and visitors.

An education pathway has windows into the mechanical room to expose the services, and glass floor tiles to expose the operation of the underfloor air distribution system.

Data on energy and water use

Actual energy bills indicate that the design achieves an energy intensity of 63 Btu/sqft/year compared to a conventional building of similar size which typically uses approximately 180 kBtu/sqft/year.

Measures to save water include low flow fixtures and an underground tank that collects rainwater from the green roof (the roof plants require no watering). For domestic hot water, heat recovered from the cooling system is used to preheat incoming city water. The results are reductions in potable water of 54%, in sewer discharge of 54%, and in energy used for water heating of 80%, compared to a MNECB reference building. cce

Project name:

Centre for Sustainable Development (Maison du développement durable), Montreal

Award-winning firm (prime consultant, mechanical-electrical engineering):

Bouthillette Parizeau (Jacques Lagacé, P.Eng., Pierre Jean, P.Eng., Alain Morin, Tech., Philippe Leblanc, Tech., Nathalie
Boulet, eng., Mathieu St-Germain, eng., Jean-Sébastien Laberge, Tech.)



Other key players:

Menkès Shooner
Dagenais Létourneux (architect);
Pasquin St-Jean (structural engineer)


Zurn (sinks, urinals)


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