Canadian Consulting Engineer

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE – BUILDINGS Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex

October 1, 2011
By AME Consulting Group & IMEC Mechanical

The Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex in the city of Coquitlam, near Vancouver is a $62 million, 13,200-m2 project that was completed 10 months ahead of schedule and several million dollars under budget. The project was part new construction...

The Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex in the city of Coquitlam, near Vancouver is a $62 million, 13,200-m2 project that was completed 10 months ahead of schedule and several million dollars under budget. The project was part new construction and part renovation. Completed in 2010, it required building two new rinks and the demolition of the old rinks, a major renovation of the main 2,000-seat arena, and finally the construction of a Sports Hall of Fame atrium lobby.

Given the client’s mandate to achieve energy savings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure future sustainability, IMEC suggested a district thermal energy sharing system. Specifically they recommended “Thermenex” (thermal energy exchange), a system developed by Jeff Weston P. Eng. at IMEC for large commercial and industrial applications. Thermenex greatly reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at a capital cost that is typically much lower than other green technologies.

The core principle for Thermenex is the recognition that cooling is simply the removal of heat. It is a custom-built thermal heat exchange hub that dynamically manages the movement of heat to where it is required. It consists of a pipe with a thermal gradient (one end hot the other end cold) with control valves that function as a hub for efficiently managing heat. In the case of the Poirier Complex, the pipe was “folded” to create four pipes running together, all with different temperature characteristics.

Importantly, the system is programmed to maximize efficiency based on the changing building needs, rather than having to rely on the selected design parameters. The building demands choose the set points.

With the Thermenex system in place, the expansions at the Poirer complex required no new boilers. The entire facility is now served by a unique domestic hot water system. The system has three stages of heat. The excess building heat is the first stage either directly or through a heat reclaim chiller, depending on demand. The existing aquatic centre had a solar domestic hot water system that now functions as second stage heat, and if capacity is available it can provide final domestic water heating. The existing boilers provide the final stage of heat if required.

Monitoring indicates that the existing boilers are using less fuel now than they were before the renovation, while serving an additional 15,500 m3 (including the renovated library) of very well used public facilities.

A new 170-ton heat recovery chiller provides cooling for the ventilation systems. It reclaims any low-grade thermal energy from all the cooling systems, the ground and the building exhaust. Excess heat from the library, located 200 metres from the main complex, can be used to heat the pool facility.

One of the design challenges was timing the availability of waste heat from the ice plant with the demand for heat in the pools. An 80-ton geoexchange field was installed to function as short-term thermal storage for rejected heat.

There were significant scheduling challenges. All work needed to be performed while maintaining full recreation programs, which included hockey and lacrosse play-offs and national tournaments. An inventive, integrated, three-stage project delivery instituted by Task Construction Management brought this project in under budget and ahead of schedule.

Probably the most significant challenge was convincing the city of Coquitlam to take a risk on a new technology with limited proven success for such a large, high profile project. The mechanical design-build contract included a guarantee that if the system did not perform, a plan was in place to convert to a more traditional design, with money held back until the system was functional. Needless to say, this was not required. cce


Project name:

Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, Coquitlam, B.C.

Award-winning firms (design-build mechanical consultant):

AME Consulting Group and IMEC Mechanical (Rob Walter, Eng.L.., Scott Campbell, Tom Wilson, P.Eng. (AME); Ian Hall, Jeff Weston, P.Eng., Darcy Hart (IMEC))

Other key players:

CEI (coordinating architect), Task (construction management), HY Engineering (civil), Bogdonov Pao (structural), MCL Engineering (electrical), Storrier Consulting (client liaison).

Exterior view of the renovated complex.


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