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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BANK OF CANADA RENEWAL

With a total floor area of approximately 79,000m², the Bank of Canada complex occupies an entire city block in Ottawa’s central Parliamentary District. The complex consists of the Classical grey granite Centre Building, designed by Morani, Lawson and Morris and opened in 1938, flanked by two modern glass towers and indoor atrium designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in 1979.

By Jim Taggart

Design Intent

The renewal project was designed to maintain the major architectural components of these historically significant structures, while bringing the facility up to 21st century standards for accessibility, fire and life safety, security and seismic performance. In addition, the interior reconfiguration responds to the client’s desire to reinvigorate its operations by fostering a collaborative workplace culture. Moving away from private workspaces to an open environment, the Interior modifications consciously drive a future thinking workplace that will appeal to the brightest and best of the emerging young workforce.

Physical Renewal

The major physical components of the project included complete interior demolition and fit-up of new office space, new structural concrete shear walls and floor slab infills and new staircase configurations. These changes were strategic in nature, designed to meet the functional criteria in the most unobtrusive way possible.

For example, the careful demolition and replacement of the existing elevator and fire stair core in the office towers with new seismically upgraded versions eliminated the need for the more common, but more visually intrusive strategy of storey height steel cross-bracing installed behind the existing glass curtain wall. The perimeter of each tower floor thus became available for the creation of a 450mm deep ‘dynamic buffer zone’ to improve energy efficiency and environmental control.

With the installation of an interior wall of glass, this zone forms the plenum of a double envelope system that improves thermal performance and permits the pre-conditioning of air before it is distributed through the building. While a conventional suspended ceiling might have achieved the same effect, it would have concealed Erickson’s original exposed concrete structure.

The perimeter buffer zone, combined with a new open plan office configuration, meant that a labyrinth of ductwork could be avoided and supplementary heat supplied by radiant panels, discretely located in the coffers of the concrete tree column structure. These low-profile panels leave space for the integration of high efficiency lighting and sprinkler heads within the coffers.

Other new building systems include new roof-level mechanical penthouses and main electrical rooms in the basement. Together, these systems result in overall operational energy savings of 70% over the existing condition, contributing multiple credits to the project’s LEED Gold designation.

Interior Reconfiguration

In the two towers, Erickson’s open-office concept column grid was restored. Open-plan spaces, modular furniture and sit-stand desks, create a variety of ‘me, we and us’ workspaces. The renewal seamlessly integrates power and data for 21st century digital technologies.

Interconnected spaces on the main floor and the level below, allow the Bank to create a new destination for conferences and events. The latest technology, together with adjacent lounges and integrated food and beverage service, provides support to a wide variety of meeting spaces.

Extensive external plaza works include the construction of a new glass pyramid, which serves as the main entry for the Bank of Canada Museum, which was moved from the Centre Block to the site of a below grade loading dock beneath the plaza. This relocation was necessary in part because the public entrance to the museum had been through the atrium, a space now off-limits to the general public due to the security requirements now imposed on the central banks of G-7 countries.

Jim Taggart, FRAIC is Editor of SABMag.

Demountable wall systems used in the Bank of Canada were provided by Teknion

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Client  Bank of Canada
  • Architect  Perkins+Will
  • Structural Engineer  Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Limited
  • Mechanical/Electrical Engineer  BPA
  • Interior Design  Perkins+Will
  • Landscape Architect  DTAH
  • Sustainability Consultant  Perkins+Will
  • Heritage Consultant  EVOQ Architecture (Formerly FGMDA)
  • Construction Manager  PCL Construction
  • Project Manager CBRE Limited/Project Management Canada
  • Photos  doublespace photography

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 of operation)
  • Water savings relative to reference building = 35%

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Viewpoint

University District, a new 80-hectare mixed-use neighbourhood in northwest Calgary, welcomed its first residents in 2018. The masterplan for the community was created by West Campus Development Trust (WCDT) through a public engagement process that set new standards of authenticity and transparency for projects of this type. The process helped WCDT to refine its plans, build trust with stakeholders and attract buyers.

Transparency Builds Trust

The traditional approach to redevelopment has been “design and defend,” where the developer finalizes a plan and then reveals it to the public. The trouble with design and defend is that it can spark resistance and resentment in neighbours and other stakeholders.

Rather than designing and defending, James Robertson, President &CEO for WCDT and his team   adopted a “transparency builds trust” approach.

Stakeholder Working Groups

The land that became University District is surrounded by five established neighbourhoods, the Foothills Medical Centre and it’s also home to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the University of Calgary. WCDT decided to establish relationships with all these stakeholders as early in the process as possible. WCDT recognized early on that you can’t just come into an area in the middle of established, well-loved communities and assume you can build whatever you want.

In redevelopment projects, the developer usually begins to meet the public as part of the land use re-designation application process. For University District, the public engagement project began well in advance of this stage, with a series of Stakeholder Working Groups. Each of these meetings, which functioned more like committees than open houses, focused on a single element of community design.

Each event included representatives from the surrounding communities and the main stakeholders, as well as the WCDT design team. This ongoing interaction was invaluable in building constructive relationships and helping to align the project goals with community needs. 

Each Stakeholder Working Group opened with a review of the decisions made at the last meeting. WCDT set clear deadlines for feedback so that stakeholders understood their responsibilities. When it came time for the City’s public hearing on the land-use re-designation, there was little or no opposition – an unusual situation in a city where redevelopment has often been the source of time-consuming conflict between developers and citizens.

Setting a Collaborative Tone

Next, WCDT held three open house meetings (the last of which was required by The City as part of the redevelopment application process). Breaking with tradition, each open house took place over two or three days, and in multiple locations to suit different stakeholder groups. Participants were offered different opportunities to participate, according to their individual preferences and schedules. WCDT considered it important to change the messaging from ‘the usual ‘Come to this open house to see what we’re doing,’ to ‘Come to this open house to see what we’re all doing.’

At the meetings, WCDT displayed large information boards, and participants placed Post-It Notes directly on these boards to indicate approval, concerns and/or disagreements. The WCDT team would then photograph the boards, compile all the feedback (positive and negative) and report it back to the participants and communities. These notes were also given to the WCDT design team to analyze and consider.

Recognizing that not everyone can attend meetings, and the opinions offered may not represent the views of everyone affected by the development, WCDT also posted an online survey, set up storefront information booths, and wrote letters directly to communities soliciting questions and comments.

This inclusive approach to engagement proved popular with the public. During the approvals process, all five surrounding communities submitted a letter to the City of Calgary expressing their support for the University District Plans – an unusual, perhaps unprecedented, expression of support.

This article, originally published by Smarter Growth, a program of the BUILD Calgary Region initiative, was adapted for SABMag by Maureen Henderson, Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Capus Development Trust.


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