Canadian Consulting Engineer

McCallumSather designs Waterloo Region’s first net-zero library

May 10, 2024

Kitchener Public Library Southwest Community Branch

Rendering courtesy McCallumSather.

McCallumSather has designed and is helping build Kitchener Public Library’s (KPL’s) new Southwest Community Branch, which aims to be the first net-zero-carbon and -energy municipal facility in Ontario’s Waterloo Region.

The 14,000-sf, one-storey facility, which broke ground on Oct. 16, 2023, will be one of the first commercial buildings constructed in Kitchener’s planned Rosenberg neighbourhood. Located at the intersection of Bleams and Fischer-Hallman Roads, it is part of a new civic commons on city-owned parkland, which will also include a community centre and an elementary school.

McCallumSather’s mechanical engineers and architects have collaborated on the design process with KPL’s senior leadership to ensure net-zero performance. The all-electric library will incorporate such features as wood building materials, solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, controlled use of glazing to capture solar heat, a geothermal field, a thick roof wall, triple-panel glazing, floor insulation, a customized heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system and a building envelope designed with window-to-wall ratio of 29%.

The HVAC approach decouples heating and cooling from ventilation. Heat pump fan coils will provide the space heating and cooling, drawing energy from a two-pipe system supplied by the building’s mechanical room plant, decarbonized using a geothermal heat pump instead of a traditional boiler and chiller arrangement. Meanwhile, a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) will vary the volume of air, based on real-time demand, and a dual-core energy recovery system will prevent the need for more systems to condition the ventilation air.

The following design estimates will be measured and verified once the building is in operation:

  • Annual energy use intensity (EUI): 63 kWhr/m2
  • Annual PV generation: 94 MWhr
  • Annual operational carbon savings: 8.3 tons CO2e

To help achieve these goals, KPL’s budget has been bolstered by a $5.9-million ‘green and inclusive community’ grant, contributed by the federal government.

Other members of the project team include Stantec (structural, electrical and civil engineering), Village Consulting (energy), SpruceLab and Trophic Design (landscape architecture).


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