INTERVIEW WITH: Anthony Owolabi, PACE Canada Volunteer

PACE Canada getting a foothold

Originating in California, the property assessed clean energy (PACE) program offered by PACE Canada wants to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrade measures affordable to all Canadians.

What is PACE?

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an innovative financing tool which property owners can use to upgrade the energy efficiency of their buildings and install renewable energy systems with no money down and with repayment through their property tax bill. The source of funds is usually private lenders who are looking for long term, low risk investments.

The key requirements of a PACE program are that the building owner must own the property and must be paying (or be able to pay) property taxes: secondly the program will cover 100% of the financing for these types of measures:

• renewables such as solar panels and geothermal heating systems

energy efficiency upgrades such as insulation and windows

In the last five years in the USA, over 220,000 PACE projects have been completed with over $6B invested.

Who is PACE Canada?

PACE Canada is a non-profit, education and advocacy organization. We are dedicated to bringing the PACE program to Canada, and in the process will create thousands of jobs and dramatically reduce Canada’s GHG footprint.

Our vision is for every building in Canada to be optimized with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to achieve net-zero performance – and for PACE financing to be the tool that makes the measures affordable to all.

Can you explain a little more how the financing system works?

The PACE administrator acts as a coordinator between investors (lenders) and home/property owners (buyers). Investors lend the money to home/property owners and money flows to the contractor who completes the job.

Once the project is complete, the PACE Administrator facilitates the placement of a property tax lien and the home/property owner starts repayment via their property tax bill.

Since investors provide long-term, fixed interest rate money, the model is usually cash flow positive from day one. Energy savings are meant to more than offset the increase in taxes.

What are the available markets for PACE Financing in Canada?

There are two very distinct markets for PACE financing – C Pace (commercial) and R Pace (residential). Even though there are similarities, there are major differences when it comes to implementation processes and approvals for each market.

Think of both programs sharing the DNA of the cat family, but one is a kitten and one is a tiger.

Based on US market data, the average PACE financing per project has been $456,000 for C-PACE projects and $24,000 for R-PACE projects. The largest single C-PACE financed project to date is $32 million. A C PACE best practices guideline can be found at http://www.c-pacealliance.com: (Well-Designed-C PACE-Programs-2018-07-02)

Does PACE require government involvement even down to the municipal level?

Even though the loan repayment is made through the property tax system, the municipality should have only two simple tasks – place the tax lien and collect/remit the annual payments. All other tasks should be handled by the PACE Administrator – approve contractors, projects, and upgrade types allowed; and find the investors.

What are the full economic benefits?

1. Energy Savings to property owners: Since the target is to be net positive cash flow from day 1, property owners save money on their energy bills.

2. Increased property value: Unlike subjective upgrades like countertops and paint, PACE upgrades are quantifiable and calculations can show increased property value. This feature can be translated into a higher price at the time of sale.

3. Green Jobs: Apart from the public good benefits of reduced green house gases, many new jobs are created. Statistics show that for every million dollars invested, 15 new market transition jobs are created.

4. Reduced fiscal debt: Since PACE attracts private investors, it reduces the use of public tax dollars in the retrofit economy.  Governments don’t have to provide rebates, subsidies, or give-aways that contribute to increased public debt levels.

What are the next steps for PACE Canada?

PACE Canada is committed to advocating for the adoption of a best practices PACE model across Canada. We will continue our efforts to educate governments and politicians on PACE and its economic benefits (see the website at PACECanada.green)

We will be expanding our membership base by organizing educational events on PACE and its components and to help the public understand all the PACE benefits.

THE ROTUNDA

High-performance office building rejuvenates downtown neighbourhood

Occupying a prominent downtown corner across from Victoria’s historic City Hall, this mixed-use commercial complex includes two levels of underground parking, a street level with landscaped boulevards and public plazas flanked by ground floor retail spaces. The six-storey, 10,362 m² west building and 13-storey, 16,299 m² east building house class-A office space above.

By Franc D’Ambrosio, Founding Principal, Erica Sangster, Principal, D’AMBROSIO architecture + urbanism and Andy Chong, Managing Principal, INTEGRAL GROUP.

Urban Design and Architecture

The developer’s aim was to contribute to the resurgence of Victoria’s downtown, provide much needed high-quality office space and set a design benchmark in the regeneration of a moribund city block. The building forms have been sculpted to define street edges and create public spaces that are welcoming, human scaled, and integrated with both the street fabric and the building activity.

The fundamental massing strategy was to divide the site laterally and thereby locate two separate and distinct buildings.  As a complex of two buildings, the project is in scale with the surrounding context. The separation has allowed for gracious public open spaces and also facilitated phased construction.  The two buildings share aspects of form and materials, but differ in their massing and façade composition. Both outwardly express their function, with slender office wings and primary circulation routes clearly articulated in concrete and glass.

The public focus of the project is the Rotunda, a 500m² sky-lit atrium that brings natural light into the centre of the west building and also functions as the return air plenum for the ventilation system. To support the 20-metre diameter skylight, a unique structure comprising six ‘boomerang-shaped’ radially arranged, glue-laminated timber members was designed. The members are connected with steel tension rods, as well as concentric steel tension and compression rings – a solution that is economical in material use and maximizes daylight penetration.

Energy

The project’s  Energy Utilization Intensity (EUI) was reduced by high-performance in three main areas: building envelope; ventilation heat recovery; and building heating and cooling.  Building envelope options were optimized using energy modelling, and include a continuous layer of exterior insulation to achieve R-30 in walls. 

Combined with high-performance double-glazing and a strategic window-to-wall ratio, the building enclosure minimizes both heat loss, and cooling requirements due to solar heat gains.

Heating and cooling for the building is driven by a hybrid air/ground-source heat-recovery chiller plant.  This system can operate in either air-source mode (taking advantage of Victoria’s relatively temperate climate), or in ground-source (maintaining compressor efficiency, while using only a modestly-sized borehole field). Radiant ceiling panels provide heating and cooling to all office spaces, using moderate water temperatures and eliminating the need for fans to distribute space heating and cooling.

Ventilation

The larger east building uses underfloor air distribution and displacement ventilation. Dual core heat recovery technology reverses intake and exhaust pathways every 60 seconds, alternately charging large aluminum cores to achieve more than 80% effective heat recovery; much higher than conventional fixed-plate or wheel-type systems.

Variable speed AHU fans and automatic VAV dampers modulate the supply of dedicated ventilation air (no recirculation) in response to CO2 and humidity levels, maintaining indoor air quality and exhausting latent heat gains, while conserving energy for fans, heating, and dehumidification. All systems are controlled by a comprehensive digital Building Automation System.

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy Intensity = 102 kWh/m²-yr
  • Thermal Energy Demand Intensity = 22.9 kWh/m²-yr
  • Energy Consumption Reduction vs. ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (LEED 2009) Baseline = 45%
  • Energy Cost Savings vs. ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (LEED 2009) Baseline = 33%

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Owner/Developer: Jawl Properties
  • Architect: D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism
  • General Contractor / Construction Manager: Campbell Construction   
  • Energy Model: Integral Group
  • Structural Engineer: RJC Engineers
  • Building Envelope: RDH
  • Landscape Architect: Murdoch & de Greeff
  • Electrical Engineer:  AES
  • Mechanical Engineer  Integral Group
  • Structural Engineer:  RJC Engineers
  • LEED Consultant:  Integral Group
  • Photos: Sama Jim Canzian

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City of Calgary Composting Facility, Calgary, AB

Technical Award | Stantec

Jury comments: This facility represents a significant milestone on the road to a circular economy, by converting millions of kilograms of domestic organic waste into valuable compost each year. By-products of this process are also re-engineered to create other marketable commodities, while solar panels, rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling and other environmental strategies have helped this project achieve a LEED v4 Gold rating – the first in Canada.

Nearly 60% of single-family household garbage is compostable waste in Calgary. The City wanted to change this. First and largest of its kind in Canada, the Calgary Compost Facility (CCF) diverts 85 millionkilograms of material from landfills annually by converting it into a marketable product—compost. Opportunities to convert other resources that might otherwise have been overlooked also included:

• 100% of the harvested rainwater is used for the composting process or to flush toilets and urinals

• Greywater from the sinks and showers is diverted into the composting process

• Solar energy is captured via an on-site photovolatic solar farm

• Odour control is maintained using recovered wood chips

• Sulfuric acid used to remove ammonia from the exhaust air in the composting process creates hazardous waste, ammonium sulfate. A process was developed to convert this to a neutralized crystallized form, which is used as fertilizer for agriculture.

These innovative strategies were implemented despite a tight construction schedule. Ina visionary move, the CCF designed the adjacent Administration and Education Building to reach new sustainable heights. It is the first building certified under the LEED® v4 Building Design + Construction rating system in Canada, achieving Gold certification.

The Administration and Education Building boasts a high-performance envelope, reducing the amount of energy lost to the outdoors. It also takes advantage of energy-saving technologies such as condensing boilers, exhaust air heat recovery and high efficiency domestic water heaters.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Client:  City of Calgary Waste and Recycling Services
  • Architect:  Stantec
  • Civil/Electrical/Mechanical/Structural Engineer:  Stantec
  • General Contractor: Chinook Resources Management Group
  • Landscape Architect:  Stantec
  • Commissioning Agent:  WSP
  • Photos:  Ian Grant

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 65.3KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.2 2010 = 39.1%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 2,462 litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 50.4%

The administration areas are heated with Viessmann Vitodens 200-W condensing boilers.

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Radium Hot Springs Community Hall and Library, Radium Hot Springs, BC

Institutional [Small] Award | Urban Arts Architecture

Jury comments: This community project in a small town in the mountains of British Columbia reimagines the meaning of ‘community investment’. With a community-centred procurement focus, the project was designed to optimize the social and economic benefits for those living and working within a 100-mile radius of the site and, as such, creates a new ‘recipe’ based on the locally-available ingredients of materials, technology and craft skills.    

The village of Radium Hot Springs Is located in the mountainous southeast corner of British Columbia. The new Community Hall and Library occupy a prominent corner in the centre of the village, overlooking the Legends Park kettle hole.

Designed as the “100 mile” building, the project maximizes the use of local materials and trades in the Columbia Valley. The project goals were to: support economic sustainability through a unique project process that would maximize the use of local resources, both material and human; demonstrate the use of renewable resources and innovative replicable building systems; and create a building that would respond to the micro-climate of the site.

Critical to the success of the project was an integrative design process that identified local materials, resources and labour, thereby dramatically reducing the life cycle embodied energy and overall carbon footprint of the development. The design process resulted in a building that maximized the use of local wood fibre, utilizing approximately 288 cubic metres of wood products harvested from woodlots within 50 kilometres of the site and processed at the local Canfor mill just one kilometer away.

The structure comprises dowel laminated timber (DLT) panels combined with glulam posts and beams. DLT is a mass timber structural panel constructed of standard dimensional lumber, friction-fit together with hardwood dowels, not requiring the use of nails, screws, or adhesives.

This combination results in a structural system with a high potential for demountability, adaptability and reuse. Much of the material fabrication was carried out locally, including the panels which  were prefabricated off-site in Golden, 60 kilometres north of Radium, and transported to the site in a choreographed sequence to maximize efficiency. The cladding was milled by a local mill and charred in Brisco, eight kilometres from the site.

The building is organized and oriented to maximize passive strategies with a long linear form on the east-west axis, permitting natural daylighting and cross ventilation. Strategically located roof overhangs control solar exposure.

Window locations are carefully calibrated to capture the views of the mountains and connect to the park while maintaining less than 40% window-to-wall ratio for energy efficiency.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Client:  Village of Radium Hot Springs
  • Architect:  Urban Arts Architecture
  • Civil Engineer:  Core Group Consultants
  • Electrical Engineer:  Applied Engineering Solutions
  • Mechanical Engineering:  Rocky Point Engineering Ltd.
  • Structural Engineer: Equilibrium Canada
  • General Contractor:  Ken Willimont
  • Landscape Architect:  Hapa Collaborative
  • Photos:  Dave Best

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 274 KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building = 36%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 80%

Lighting and acoustic panels are built into the roof panels. Uponor supplied PEX piping for the heating system consisting of air-source heat pumps and high-efficiency Viessmann Vitodens 200-W boilers.

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Wellington Building Rehabilitation, Ottawa, ON

Existing Building Upgrade Award | NORR Architects and Engineers

Jury comments: Now widely acknowledged as one of the cornerstones of a sustainable built environment, the renovation and repurposing of existing buildings conserves embodied energy, supports social sustainability and cultural continuity. This project carefully and cleverly reconciles the competing challenges of seismic upgrading of the structure, updating of building services and infrastructure and the constraints of heritage conservation.

This project transforms an insurance office building, consisting of a historic 1927 Beaux Arts landmark and a 1959 addition, into facilities for the House of Commons. The program includes parliamentary offices, multipurpose rooms, library of parliament facilities, cafeteria, ground floor retail space, security processing, as well as two levels of underground support facilities.

The transformation involved stripping the building back to its internal structural frame work, a complete building system replacement, seismic upgrades, heritage restoration, the insertion of a new more robust structural core and new multi-storey spaces.

The project achieved a four Green Globes rating through the preservation of the building core and shell, the reuse of the copper roof, stone and other materials, connection to the district energy plant, solar panels for domestic water pre-heating, heat recovery units, reduced water requirements, a rainwater cistern, a green roof, and room sensors to regulate temperature and light levels. 

A sky-lit atrium brings natural daylight into the upper floors of the building reducing artificial lighting needs. A living wall biofilter provides a natural aesthetic, dampens noise, and cleans and humidifies the air in the ground floor lobby.

The repurposing of existing building stock rather than discarding and building new reflects the priorities of the federal government. The challenge was to rehabilitate the building in a manner that would ensure another 90 years of life while respecting its heritage aspects. While the existing material pallet of stone and bronze has stood up well over time, the mechanical, electrical systems, and exterior windows needed complete replacement and the seismic performance needed significant upgrading.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Client  Public Services and Procurement
  • Architect  NORR Architects and Engineers
  • Heritage Architect  FGMDA
  • Structural Engineer  Adjelelan Allen Rubeli
  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: NORR Architects and Engineers
  • General Contractor:  Ellis Don Corp
  • Photos:  Doublespace Photography

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) =  213 KWhr/m²/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1 2007 = 34%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 5,458litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 64%
  • Recycled material content by value = 20%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 20+%
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 87%

Viessmann supplied solar hot water roof panels. The atrium links the reconstructed 1927 and 1959 lobbies to the spaces above via escalators and a sculptural stair. The Nedlaw living wall biofilter is 8.9 m wide x 4.4 m high and removes VOCs from the atrium area, creating 4,000 cubic feet of virtual outside air per minute. Uponor radiant heating systems are used in selected perimeter floor areas. 

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Bank of Canada Renewal, Ottawa, ON

Existing Building Upgrade Award | Perkins+Will

Jury comments: This major rehabilitation and revitalization project, driven by quantitative issues of obsolete infrastructure, poor energy performance and related carbon impacts, and an outdated working environment, has been addressed with aesthetic sensitivity and restraint. Innovative structural upgrades enabled the restoration of the integrity of this 1970s office tower by Arthur Erickson,  while the 1930s centre building and its immediate surroundings  have been transformed into valuable new public amenities.

Located just west of Parliament Hill in Downtown Ottawa, the Bank of Canada Head Office complex comprises 79,500m² of offices and operation spaces. The original Centre Building was built in the 1930s; the twin office towers and connecting atrium being added in the 1970s. Completed in 2017, this project included the comprehensive renewal of the existing complex, including some reconfigurations and additions to the program.

A new museum invites and educates the community about the Bank’s role in the Canadian economy. The pyramidal glass entrance pavilion and the enhanced public realm that surrounds it form an abstraction of the Canadian landscape and functions as an accessible, multi-faceted public realm throughout the year.

Major drivers for renewal were the performance and infrastructure deficits of the facility, energy upgrades and carbon reductions, and modernization of the workplace. Within the towers, floor plates and waffle slab ceilings were restored to their original open plan concept.

The renovated towers were designed to be modular, allowing for a diverse range of uses so that each contains a combination of private and collaborative spaces.

The Centre Building accommodates both offices and conference facilities, while the atrium provides a variety of social spaces.

The design looked to maintain as much of the existing building infrastructure as possible, to lower both costs and negative environmental impact. Passive design strategies include revealing floorplates, allowing for deeper daylight penetration and greater access to views to the exterior and atrium.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Client:  Bank of Canada
  • Architecture/Interior Team: Perkins + Will
  • Civil Engineer: Novatech Engineering Consultants
  • Electrical/Mechanical Engineer: BPA Engineering Consultants
  • Structural Engineer:  Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Limited
  • Project Manager:  CBRE Limited/Project Management Canada
  • General Contractor:  PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
  • Landscape Architect:  DTAH
  • Food Service/Commissioning Agent:  WSP
  • Heritage ConsultantEvoq Architecture
  • Building Envelope:  ZEC Consulting
  • Building ScienceCLEB
  • Sustainability Consulting Team:  Perkins + Will
  • Security:  LEA
  • A/V:  Engineering Harmonics
  • Acoustic:  HGC
  • Cost Consultant:  Turner & Townsend
  • Lighting:  Gabriel MacKinnon/Perkins + Will
  • Code & Life Safety:  Morrison Hershfield
  • Photos:  Younes Bounhar

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy intensity = 183 kWh/m² /year
  • Energy savings relative to reference building = 44%
  • Water consumption = 4,645L/occupant/year (based on 250 days operation)
  • Water savings relative to reference building = 35%

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Sustainable Energy and Engineering Building

Insulated precast concrete façade contributes to energy savings in landmark building

Simon Fraser University’s new, five-storey Sustainable Energy and Engineering Building (SE3P) in Surrey, BC represents the University’s first major step in expanding beyond its Central City campus to become a distinct academic precinct within Surrey’s growing and revitalized City Centre neighbourhood.

By: Venelin Kokalov

Funded in part by the Federal Government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), this distinctive 16,000 square metre (173,000 square feet, excluding single-level underground parkade) facility is purpose-built to house the new Sustainable Energy and Engineering (SEE) program which offers an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to energy engineering education to support the clean tech, renewable and sustainable energy sector.

With a building program organized around a light-filled central atrium and sweeping staircase punctuated with trees at varying levels, SE3P comprises teaching and research labs; collaboration and study spaces; faculty, graduate and administrative offices; recreational rooms; undergraduate and graduate lounges, student services, and plant maintenance facilities. When fully operational, approximately 515 students and 60 faculty and staff will use the building. Its 400-seat lecture hall, situated on the southwestern portion of the ground floor, will serve the full SFU Surrey campus as well as the broader Surrey community.

The project’s fast-track delivery method necessitated a significant overlap in the design and construction phases. Utilizing prefabricated precast concrete elements for the façade became a key consideration, not only for ensuring long-term durability and reduced maintenance, but because it also enabled the building to be closed in quickly to meet the tight construction schedule.

As a result, SE3P’s compelling architectural expression is a unique façade composed primarily of framed alternating strips of energy-efficient, undulating precast concrete double wythe insulated panels and reflective glazing. Drawing inspiration from the geometric pattern of electrical circuit boards, the precast concrete panels also symbolize the technological subject matter that will be taught within the building.

By fabricating the exterior finish, thermal and moisture protection, and interior finish off-site as a single pre-assembled system, the project’s schedule, performance and energy-saving goals were maintained while mitigating on-site construction noise and debris. The heavier precast concrete elements with reflective glazing help to animate the façade and are juxtaposed with the transparent glazing at the building’s ground plane which extends the outdoor public realm into the interior public space, engaging the local community.

Venelin Kokalov is Design Principal at Revery Architecture Inc.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Owner Simon Fraser University (SFU)
  • Architect  Revery Architecture Inc.
  • Structural Engineer  WSP
  • Mechanical Engineer  The AME Consulting Group Ltd. (AME Group)
  • Electrical Engineer  AES Engineering Ltd. (AES)
  • Building envelope  Morrison Hershfield Ltd.
  • Precast Concrete Engineer  Kassian Dyck & Associates
  • Contractor  Bird Construction
  • Precast Concrete Supplier and Installation SureClad a subsidiary of Surespan Structures, a member of the Surespan Group
  • Photos  Courtesy of Revery Architecture. Construction photos by Surespan Construction Ltd.

Variable air volume (VAV) units, diffusers, registers and grilles were provided by E.H. Price (Price Industries). Other HVAC equipment, namely split air conditioning units, fan coil units, and chillers were provided by Daikin.

The building uses CES light sensors, manufactured by PLC Multipoint, Inc. of Everett, Washington.  The sensors measure the amount of daylight in each space so that the building’s Energy Management System can minimize the use of artificial lighting, saving energy and money while creating optimal work environments. 

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