Alexander Street Community

Alexander Street Community at 111 Princess is a BC Housing project located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The non-market housing project consists of 139 units meant for low-income individuals who have mental health issues. Housing units like this provide safe living spaces for these individuals, while also increasing their independence and stability with on-site life skills programs such as education, training, health and self-care information and training. Portland Housing Society partnered with the City of Vancouver to commit $20 million dollars to this project. Providing housing and support services for marginalized citizens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is the mandate for this BC Housing supported facility for the Portland Housing Society. This supportive housing project provides 139 apartments, a lounge, a kitchen/dining area and office/meeting rooms. In addition to providing affordable housing for those in need, Alexander Street Community also addresses environmental impact by supporting a reduction in both energy use and domestic water consumption.

The mechanical design strategies utilized to obtain a 40% improvement in energy efficiency include:

  • Solar heating and air source heat pumps for building heating system
  • A high-efficiency boiler backup system
  • Fresh air supply with central exhaust heat recovery
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures

Solar heating panels and air source heat pumps provide the majority of heat for the building, with a high-efficiency backup boiler to ensure uninterrupted heat on colder winter days. This collective energy is used to provide radiant floor heat for the suites, tempered ventilation air, and domestic water heating systems in the building. A ventilation unit utilizing heat wheel technology also recovers heat from the exhaust air from the residential bathrooms and transfers it to the incoming fresh air. The contaminated soil and groundwater below the site required the design of additional pressurization and ventilation systems to prevent contaminants from entering the building. The central digital control building automation system monitors the operation of these systems to ensure they are operating efficiently.

Williams Engineering found this project to be challenging, rewarding and gratifying. We are pleased to have been an integral part of this social housing project.