June 2019

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Sustainable Design PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMA PETER/COURTESY B+H ARCHITECTS Rethinking the future of sustainable design strategies by NATALIE BRUCKNER T oday's high-performance buildings are a direct result of well-imple- mented sustainable design strategies. While cost is always a consideration for owners and developers, there is an understanding that sometimes spending more upfront can not only provide savings over time, but also positively impact air quality, well-being, and lead to a regenerative future. "Over the past year, occupants of this planet have become increasingly aware that climate change is challenging our ability to sustain life as we know it on this planet. The UN has indicated that we may only have 12 years to correct the problem or life on the planet will be doomed. The Paris Accord on Climate Change has been signed by all but two countries," says David Driscoll, director, Parkin Architects Limited. "One aspect of sustainability being stressed is the need for building longevity. This is a function of built- in future proofing. The buildings being built must be easily adapted to new uses as they age. That means the structure should be robust and non-intrusive, the mechanical and electrical infrastructure should be accessible and upgradeable, and the spaces should be open, flexible, and adaptable," he says. While LEED and Green Globes have proven to be a success, municipalities like Toronto are also doing their part by introducing new regulations that force owners and developers to construct more energy efficient buildings. "These incentives give credit for a wide variety of sustainable initiatives," says Driscoll. A great example of a Parkin project that show- cases not only sustainable design strategies but a client's understanding of its importance is the new York Regional Police, No. 1 District Headquarters in Ontario. "This project was required to be designed for LEED Silver certification, however, when the design began the client asked about the possibility of Passive House certification. We engaged a Passive House consultant to give both the client and our staff a four-day Passive House training course. "Both the training and the design of this build- ing has been enlightening for us. Access to sunlight and rigid adherence to the five Passive House prin- ciples has informed the building's form more than we would have imagined. We are hoping to produce an extremely energy efficient building, if not the first Passive House police facility in Canada." Net Zero Ready, Set, Go Mark Bessoudo, manager of research at WSP, says his company is seeing increasing awareness being shown in sustainability by the real estate sector. "There's now an opportunity for these successes to be translated into the infrastructure sector as well," says Bessoudo. "Several infrastructure-scale sustainabil- ity benchmarking tools and frameworks have recently entered the market, including Envision, RELi, and GRESB Infrastructure. Large infrastructure projects in Canada that want to receive funding from the fed- eral government will now have to undergo a 'Climate Lens Assessment,' which guides them towards low- carbon and resilient design and operation." The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is also continuing to push the market towards low-car- bon and zero carbon building design, and in 2019 WSP co-authored a report with the CaGBC called Making the Case for Building to Zero Carbon. "It pres- ents the business case for designing new buildings to zero carbon in six different cities across Canada," explains Bessoudo. "The report doesn't just focus on how to get buildings to zero carbon now, but on planning for the future with zero carbon ready build- ings – that is, buildings that are designed to make the switch to all-electric systems and become zero car- bon once the electricity grid lowers their emissions to zero. This also requires on-site renewables and high-performance envelopes to lower the thermal energy demand intensity [TEDI]." Increasing transparency and disclosure of build- ing performance data, of course, is essential to the future of this sector, and Bessoudo says that in 2019 Ontario's Energy and Water Reporting Benchmark (which also requires disclosure of carbon emis- sions) was expanded to include more commercial, industrial, and multi-unit residential buildings. To encourage transparency, the CaGBC also recently launched their "Disclosure Challenge," which asks participants to disclose the energy, water, and carbon data across their building portfolios. More commercial property owners are also becoming interested in how to meet or exceed energy targets. Leslie Peer, principal at RJC Engineers, says that these owners are now making triple bottom line decisions and approaching RJC to help them meet BC Energy Step Code 4 standards. The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard that provides an incremental and consistent The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, Mohawk College, Hamilton, ON. J UNE 2019 | 19

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