The New Era of Sustainable Design Strategies

June 12, 2017

Award Magazine, June 2017, by Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli

Net zero has become a bit of a buzz word in the sustainable buildings market. However, experts in the sector will tell you that while net zero energy goals certainly have their place, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes when it comes to sustainable design strategies.

Zero carbon, Passive House, increased thermal performance, convergence and integration, and increasing collaboration between the industry and government; these are just some of the key strategies currently underway to help owners and developers reach their goals to make buildings more efficient.

It is fair to say, sustainable design strategies are changing relatively quickly here in Canada and as a result, this is altering the dynamic in how those involved approach a project. “There has been a realization that in order to achieve a sustainable design it has to be a full team effort. The owner, architect, engineers . . . they all have to be on the same page and working together,” says Curtis Loblick, senior project manager at Williams Engineering Canada.“This is extremely important when we start to talk about projects such as net zero. Each decision, whether that’s from the architect, owner, mechanical or electrical engineer, has to work in harmony. As do the technologies, which need to speak and work with each other,” says Loblick.

Two examples of teams combining strategies for the good of the project are Meadows Community Recreation Centre and Library in Edmonton (LEED Silver), where Williams acted as the civil, electrical and mechanical consultant, and Jasper Place Library (LEED Gold), where Williams provided mechanical and electrical consulting engineering services. However, for Loblick, his focus is on existing building renovation and strategies to reduce consumption and cost. “I’m starting to see more requests for energy audits to see how we can reduce the greenhouse gas footprint. We can keep building new, but whether we build it net zero or not, we need to look at the bigger picture. We have a stock of existing buildings and we need to look at ways to make those more efficient through controls, implementing analytics and monitoring such things as space temperatures and air handling units.”

Read the full article AWARD Magazine: Building-Resiliency