GBL Architects Inc. completes North America's first multi-residential net-zero building
Vancouver’s Olympic Village achieves LEED Platinum certification, making it the greenest neighbourhood in North America. Heated and cooled entirely by renewable energy, the Olympic Village development’s most sustainable building is the Net-Zero Building, an affordable housing component for seniors. It produces as much energy as is consumed through efficiencies in design as well as mechanisms for capturing and storing solar and waste heat.
The challenges of the existing urban context and street orientation as precedent to a Net Zero overlay were considered by the team as an opportunity to challenge the performance of a highly sustainable building in a real city situation, with real city density, real overshadowing and a diverse community of occupants. A design team including architect, client, mechanical, electrical and structural engineer worked collaboratively to create spaces where the energy demand for the interior activities was minimised through careful attention to building orientation, envelope design and systems integration.
The single loaded open corridor and stair building typology was carefully refined to obviate the requirement for mechanical systems for heating and pressurisation while permitting daylight and air to pass through corridors and suites, thus achieving passive ventilation and day lighting. Circulation is designed to be open and to incorporate planters and benches to promote social well-being and a sense of identity and liveability for the residents. The overhang from the corridor acts as an architectural shade that protects the envelope, increases the building durability and eliminates summer solar gain in the units.
In addition to the passive sustainable features, supplementary mechanical systems were integrated to further improve the overall building energy efficiency. The heat rejected by the neighbouring grocery store refrigeration units and electrical rooms provides supplementary heating for the building and preheating for domestic hot water. Individual suite exhausts feed into vertical collector chimneys with extract fans at the roof. Rooftop mounted solar vacuum tubes heat the domestic hot water supply for the building.
Highly efficient ceiling mounted capillary mat systems provide radiant heating and cooling within each individual suite. The domestic hot water, space heating and electrical loads are all continuously monitored and recorded for immediate access by the residents.