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Diamond Schmitt Architects Commercial/Industrial [Large] Award

Jury: This is a really great case study building for commercial developers. The clever articulation of the form to reinforce the street at ground level, and to optimize solar exposure above, combined with a low window-to-wall ratio and the attention paid to indoor environmental quality are all strategies that are both affordable and effective. The abundant natural light, communal spaces, and a biofilter living wall to clean the air, all enhance occupant wellbeing.

The Sifton Centre is the first building in the 30-hectare (75 acre) West 5 development – a new net zero community planned by Sifton properties in the western region of London, Ontario. The West 5 community will be a mixed use, residential/commercial development, with a focus on increased density, walkability and lively streets, in contrast to the low-density suburban development that surrounds it. Taken in combination, the buildings that comprise West 5 will generate as much energy as they consume, and this energy will be produced entirely through photovoltaics.

The Sifton Centre is a 5,600m² (60,000sf) commercial building, with approximately 2,300m² (25,000sf) of retail space and 3,300m² (35,000sf) of office space. Sifton occupies the top floor of the building. As the flagship building of the development, the Sifton Centre incorporates several important sustainable strategies that will be repeated in subsequent buildings.

The masterplan responds to the existing municipal street framework and provides a new network of streets and laneways that define the sites of the various new buildings. The success of the development will depend on the creation of refined streetscapes to support retail and commercial activity, but the street grid is not at the optimal solar orientation.

The Sifton Centre addresses this issue by splitting the building programmatically to provide ideal site orientation for each program type. The retail program, located on the ground floor, follows the street edge in order to support the public realm.

The office floors located on levels 2 and 3, however, are oriented directly east-west in order to maximize the façade facing due south. This split in orientation provides added benefits as roof areas created by the different alignments of the ground and second floors provide opportunities for living roofs and amenity terraces.

Further enhancing these passive strategies is the design of the building envelope, which is comprised of high-performance insulated panels (effective R28) and roof systems (R40). Glazing accounts for less than 30% of the overall envelope area and is comprised of a mixture of triple-glazed vision windows, light-diffusing insulated slab glazing and insulated spandrel glazing. Solar heat gain on the ground floor is controlled by generous building overhangs.

The floor plate of the office levels is 18m (60ft) deep. All occupants have access to light and views, even if located in the centre of the building. Daylight penetration is enhanced by the light-diffusing insulated slab glazing, which refracts sunlight entering the windows driving it further into the space. The use of this glass offsets the dynamic chromatic glazing used to control glare and heat effects at vision glass locations, which greatly improves user comfort at the building perimeter.

  • Project Credits
  • Owner/Developer  Sifton Properties Limited
  • Architect  Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.
  • General Contractor  D. Grant Construction Limited.
  • Landscape Architect  Ron Koudys Landscape Architects Inc.
  • Civil Engineer  Stantec
  • Electrical / Mechanical Engineer  Smith+ Andersen
  • Structural Engineer  Van Boxmeer Stranges
  • Sustainability  Footprint
  • PV Consultant  s2e Technologies
  • Photos  Lisa Logan
  • Project Performance
  • Energy intensity = 81KWhr/m2/year (Building 73KWhr/m2/year, Process 8KWhr/m2/year)
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 43%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 4,160litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building = 60%

The south elevation. The ground floor retail area follows the street edge, while the office floors on levels 2 and 3 are oriented directly east-west in order to maximize the façade facing due south. Some of the exterior cladding consists of Prodema (wood veneer phenolic panels) by Sound Solutions Architectural Products.

The two-storey living biofilter wall in the ground-floor lobby enhances air quality in the common spaces by filtering and humidifying the air. The heating and cooling system uses Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology from Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada.