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Water Today Title October 23, 2020

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Update 2018/12/28
Greening government - Meighen Building


WaterToday first looked into the Federal efforts to "green" their buildings in March 2017. For our latest look, we turn our attention to one of the buildings identified in the government retrofitting initiative, the Arthur Meighen Building.

Built in Toronto in the 1950s, the Arthur Meighen Building is set to be one of the first federal carbon neutral buildings. When complete it will include solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system and will serve as the main Government of Canada building for the Ontario region.
WaterToday (WT) sent email questions to a spokesperson from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to find how the Arthur Meighen Building will become a flagship model that demonstrates the government's commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Our questions and PSPC answers can be found below.

WT - The feasibility study was started in 2015 and the renovations are expected to be complete by 2022, is the building unoccupied while all this work is being done?

PSPC - The building has been unoccupied since July 1, 2018 and will remain vacant while the work is being done.

WT - When the Canadian Green Building Council was brought in midway through the feasibility study, project managers were told to stop and rethink the design with a view to designing a maximum carbon neutral building and create a new path forward. Can you elaborate on what specific changes and measures were taken to meet the needs of this new mandate? What specific steps are being taken to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in the Meighen building?

PSPC - The orientation of the project changed when the Arthur Meighen Building was selected by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) as a project suitable for extensive carbon reduction, making it the first major rehabilitation project to perform a Carbon Neutral Feasibility Study as part of its financial investment decision-making process.

As part of the orientation shift, PSPC developed a greenhouse gas methodology that incorporates carbon reduction considerations in the investment analysis, which allowed the department to balance up-front costs with long-term operational and environmental savings. Several measures that were not part of the original project design are now being implemented to reduce carbon emissions. These include:
  • Installing an extensive rooftop photovoltaic solar system that will provide a significant amount of 100% renewable electricity to the building.
  • Implementing a geo-exchange system that will leverage clean on-site and utility electricity for heating and cooling purposes.
  • Using low-energy lighting and building automation control systems that will further reduce energy consumption and maximize the performance of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
  • Designing a high performance building envelope through increased insulation, higher efficiency glazed windows and an optimized window-to-wall ratio that will reduce heat loss and minimize solar heat gain through the fenestration.

With all these new innovative measures being put forward and the department's desire to reach maximum carbon reductions, the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) took an interest in the project and approached the Department to see if we were interested in being a part of their new Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) pilot program. As such, PSPC subsequently began to work cooperatively with the Canadian Green Building Council as part of their ZCB pilot program.

WT - Geothermal heating is in the plans, what measures are being taken to avoid the issues that arose in an early 80s geothermal project at Dufferin and Steeles where sand was drawn into the system? Also, how is the close proximity of adjacent buildings being dealt with?

PSPC - The vertical closed-loop geothermal system being designed will meet provincial environmental compliance and will use continuous high-performance piping which helps prevent the introduction of any foreign materials into the system.
The geo-exchange system uses a system of boreholes drilled 180 metres directly below the building which will not impact adjacent buildings.

WT - Is the use of radiant floors being considered?

PSPC - Due to the existing building structure and the results in the feasibility study, radiant floors are not being considered for the Arthur Meighen Building.

WT - Wellness is a big part of this renovation project with attention being paid to water, light and energy use. What measures are being considered for water?

PSPC - The project is using the WELL Building Standard which places a high priority on features that impact human health and well-being. One of the most significant requirements of the WELL program is Fundamental Water Quality which limits the amount of contaminants in drinking water. All potable water used by occupants will be treated to ensure it meets the WELL program standards.

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