Stemming the flow

Wednesday 30 Jun 2010

Sustainable by design, the new Water Centre in Calgary achieves impressive reductions in energy use

Completed in fall 2007, the Water Centre is a new sustainable office building for approximately 800 City of Calgary staff. Re-mediated from an existing 85-acre brownfield site to meet Canadian reclamation guidelines, this building revitalised an important region in Calgary, and sets a new standard for environmentally sustainable construction and energy efficiency by achieving energy savings of over 40% in annual operating costs.

The City of Calgary is the first Canadian city to adopt a LEED-Silver Sustainable Building Policy for all new City-owned buildings. The Water Centre exceeded this standard to become Alberta’s largest Gold certified office building by using less energy, water, and recycled materials. The Water Centre is designed to improve the health and wellness of its occupants and encourage workplace productivity with the addition of narrow floorplates to create 100% daylit office space, displacement ventilation system and operable windows.

The building’s orientation along the east-west axis optimises energy performance and provides north-facing uniform daylight for the occupants. The Water Centre also has a dramatic circulation space next to the south-facing glass curtain wall and stairs that creates a large open space for natural heat gain from the winter sun. Outside, runnels and constructed wetlands tell the story of the water while nourishing the native prairie grass, flowers and shrubs.

During design, The City of Calgary and their design team used sophisticated modeling strategies and calculations for quantifying energy and water consumption, raw material reductions, waste diversion, and related building environmental impacts. This quality-assurance process calculated the performance of the building in terms of energy efficiency, environmental health, air quality and occupant safety. Most importantly, the Water Centre demonstrates that resource efficiency and occupant satisfaction can successfully be achieved with energy savings of 52%, a water use reduction of 59%, and diverting 91% of its construction waste.

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