Gatineau considers green certification for new Place des Pionniers build
As planning continues for construction of the new Place des Pionniers building in Aylmer, the city Plenary Committee heard a presentation on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Zero Carbon Buildings (ZCB). The two certification programs were presented by Mark Hutchinson, Vice President of Green Building Programs and Innovation at the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). The presentation was made at the January 31 meeting of the Committee.
The LEED certification program takes a holistic approach to evaluating sustainability across six categories of impact: Location and Transportation, Sustainable Site Development, Water Savings, Energy Efficiency, Materials Selection, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Buildings receive points in each category towards a total possible score of 100. Based on this score, the building is certified at one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The LEED program claims that this holistic approach delivers environmental, economic, and health benefits. “An investment in the quality of indoor environments is an investment in people’s health, productivity, etc.” said Hutchinson.
The ZCB certification program focuses on carbon impact over the lifespan of a building and on energy efficiency. The program claims to offer flexibility, while ensuring a low carbon design. The ZCB program offers two types of certifications: ZCB Design for new construction and major renovations, and ZCB Performance for verifying the performance of existing buildings. Hutchinson said that the ZCB certification process is much simpler than the LEED certification process.
As an example of a ZCB Performance certified building, the presentation highlighted the AMPED Sports Lab just across the river in Ottawa. The private recreation and health facility includes a hockey rink, gym, and a physiotherapy clinic. The facility underwent a complete energy overhaul eliminating all fossil fuel consumption related to building energy use. All energy consumption was converted to electric-based alternatives, including a 136 kW solar photovoltaic array. According to the CaGBC website, the AMPED Sports Lab is the world’s first ZCB Performance certified arena.
Several councillors expressed an interest in the certifications in consideration of the new Place des Pionniers building, which will house the Lucy-Faris library and the Aylmer municipal service centre. The mayor voiced her desire to strike a balance between environmental concern, cost, and timely delivery stating that: “I think what we want is to be able to make a decision that depends on our environmental impact, of course, but also which takes into account the costs and the deadlines so that we are able to produce and offer, in particular in the west of our city in this case, infrastructures as quickly as possible, to the detriment of the environment, but with a view to balance.”
Councillor Daniel Champagne also expressed the need to ensure maximum environmental protection by balancing investments between construction, public and active transport, and waste management. Because building costs increase with each certification level, he suggested aiming to certify buildings at the Silver level. The money saved by not certifying to a higher level could then be invested in reducing other areas of concern, such as greenhouse gases. Hutchinson responded that project dependant, the Gold level of certification would be a prudent investment that would not remove funds from other areas of concern.
Discussion of the LEED and ZCB certification programs was to continue in reference to the city’s building plans at a special meeting of the Municipal Council, which was to be held on February 7, 2023.
Photo credit: Bonnie James
Photo caption: Site of the Lucy-Faris library and Gatineau City offices included in LEED prioritized sites for Gatineau constructions.