“Canadians consume too much and most of it is wasted. Less than 10 percent of the energy we generate is actually used in the purpose for which it was intended. Most of it goes up in smoke. Our economy is fully one-third less energy efficient than the United States and only half as efficient as most European countries.”
—Originally published as a foreword to Sustainability within a Generation: A New Vision for Canada by Dr. David Suzuki
The last few years have seen a massive swing in the architectural design industry toward green and sustainable concepts and practices. The industry is geared towards improving and evolving building products, processes, and design techniques in order to constantly improve the environmental aspects in the new and renovated structures being built today.
Passa Associates Architect decided a number of years ago to pursue the sustainable route at a time when it was diffi-cult to convince owners and contractors to break with the norm and institute sustainable principles in the buildings they were erecting. This article highlights some of the significant projects that they undertook and attempts to explain how the use of new technologies, constantly evolving sustainable design practices, and ground breaking “green” building materials with every new project can be reflected in the energy efficiency results that constantly improved with each new project. It is this desire to improve upon what’s been done previously that is paving the way to a greener future. The calculations evolved through energy simulation software created a quantifiable system identifying how high performance energy efficient building can be achieved. This resulted in buildings with reduced green house gas emissions with the goal to grow into “living buildings” giving back energy when able.
Two of the first energy efficient green projects by Passa Associates Architect (PAA) were elementary school projects for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB). Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Elementary School was completed in April 2004 and was determined to be 39.5% more efficient than the Canadian Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB) while St. Christopher Catholic Elementary School was completed in August 2005 at 59.5% more efficient than the MNECB making it the most energy efficient elementary or high school in the Province of Ontario and fourth most efficient in Canada.
These projects were followed by a Fitness Centre Addition to the University of Windsor in which the firm dealt with further complicated building encapsulation details utilizing techniques for daylight harvesting. The last project mentioned in detail is the renovation of an existing “brownfield” industrial hospital linen building for use as the Glengarda New Facility, a school for Glengarda Child & Family Services of Windsor, Ontario. This project has been determined to be 65.2% more efficient than the MNECB.