Canadian Consulting Engineer

TREE FOR LIFE – BUILDINGS A Grander View

In 2009 construction was completed on Enermodal Engineering's new headquarters in Kitchener, a building known as "A Grander View." Enermodal, a member of MMM Group, is Canada's largest green building consulting firm and has been LEED consultant...

October 1, 2011   By Enermodal Engineering / MMM Group

In 2009 construction was completed on Enermodal Engineering’s new headquarters in Kitchener, a building known as “A Grander View.” Enermodal, a member of MMM Group, is Canada’s largest green building consulting firm and has been LEED consultant for one-third of LEED Canada certified buildings.

A Grander View achieves remarkable energy and water savings, and showcases what can be accomplished at minimal incremental cost. It has already earned a double Platinum LEED rating for new construction and commercial interiors. It is also one of two buildings selected to represent Canada at the iiSBE Sustainable Building Challenge in Helsinki in the fall of 2011.

A Grander View was designed to use 69 kilowatt-hours per square metre (kWh/m2), compared with the Canadian average of 380 kWh/m2. Metered data for water and energy demonstrates it is using 82% less energy and 89% less water than a conventional building.

Meanwhile, an occupant survey conducted independently a year after the company moved in found a very high level of employee satisfaction with the new headquarters.

Beautiful infill site

First, the building is located on an urban infill site, providing a view of the Grand River for the employees. Staff are provided with employee garden plots, but there is no permanent irrigation system and no use of pesticides.

Recycled and salvaged materials were incorporated, including a stone façade salvaged from a church and material from the demolished St. Clair River Tunnel in Sarnia. As well, 70% of the furniture from the previous Enermodal office was re-used.

Narrow building with daylight

The footprint for the three-storey, 2,150-m2 building is narrow – only 12 metres across, which ensures all employees have access to at least one view to the outdoors, while minimizing the need for artificial light. The lighting power density is approximately 65% below ASHRAE standards.

The windows are triple-glazed with fibreglass frames, and the exterior walls are made from insulated concrete forms to ensure high insulation values. The well-conceived building shell means that there is no perimeter heating necessary and the entire building can be viewed as one engineering zone (rather than interior and perimeter spaces).

To cope with low sun angles, solar heat gain and glare is eliminated by automated external shades. The shades are activated by a programmed level of incident solar radiation.

Innovative rainwater cistern and recovery from condensate

Besides using low-flow plumbing fixtures, the building collects rainwater in a cistern that has a vortex filter, reduced rate water entry, and a floating suction intake line. The resulting water is cleaner, and the overall system more energy-efficient, than a conventional cistern that uses filters.

Although most water used in the building comes from the cistern, additional potable water is gained by capturing heat pump condensate created during the building cooling process. During summer’s peak cooling season, when rainwater is often scarce, the building cooling process produces 20 litres per hour – enough to flush a toilet five times.

Earth tubes and a variable refrigerant flow system

The building has separate heating/cooling and ventilation systems. Separating the two systems saves energy because sometimes ventilation only is required, or vice versa.

In the ventilation system, both mechanical room intakes are connected to “earth tubes.” These consist of a 0.6-m diameter concrete pipe running for 4.5 metres below grade to a manhole capped with a louvered doghouse. The earth tubes temper the outdoor air by about 2°C using the heat of the ground in the winter and the reverse in the summer.

Heating and cooling is by a variable refrigerant flow system. Three air-source heat pumps are located on the roof – one pump assigned to each floor. The heat pumps are connected to 60 small fan coil units located throughout the building that distribute the refrigerant from the heat pumps. This “multi-split” system allows occupants to control the temperature and humidity in small workspace areas.

Occupancy sensors ensure that the heating and cooling system brings a room to the ideal indoor temperature only when someone is in that area. Therefore, there is no automation system that dictates pre-determined occupied and set-back times. cce

 

Project name:

A Grander View, Kitchener, Ont.

Award-winning firm (mechanical-electrical engineer, LEED consultant, energy modeling, commissioning, monitoring):

Enermodal Engineering/MMM Group (Stephen Carpenter, P.Eng., Richard Lay, P.Eng., Tim Dietrich, P.Eng.)

Owner:

Enermodal Engineering. Other key players: Robertson Simmons (architect), MTE Consultants (civil/structural engineering), Melloul Blamey (contractor), Roth Associates (landscape).

Supplier:

Mitsubishi (air-source heat pumps, controls).

JURY COMMENT

 The building was constructed as a showpiece for the company’s capability as a “green building” consulting firm. It was applauded by the jury for its comprehensive attention to all aspects of energy and water conservation and its re-use of construction materials and furniture while giving high priority to the employees’ working environment, allowing them individual climate control and natural daylight.


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