Green Building

The folks working at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in Sidney BC are smiling broadly these days. That’s because their Operations Centre has just received Canada’s first ever LEED Platinum certification – one of fewer than 10 buildings in the world to obtain this type of certification.

LEED refers to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard developed by the Canada Green Building Council to accelerate the design and construction of “green” buildings. LEED uses a point system to certify buildings: Silver (33-38 points), Gold (39-51 points) or Platinum (52-70 points).

Use of the ocean, sunlight and the region’s abundant rainfall were incorporated into the Operations Centre’s systems during construction. As a result, the building uses 75% less energy than a comparable standard building and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 32.3 tons annually. Some of the centre’s features include an ocean-based heat-pump system, coupled with a hot water radiant heat floor system, to provide heating, rainwater storage to flush the building’s low-flow toilets and a roof-mounted photovoltaic solar system to supply 20% of its energy needs.

To ensure that new office buildings realize savings and environmental benefits over the long term, the Government of Canada is following LEED Gold or better certification standards. Parks Canada Agency’s Operations Centre easily met the LEED Gold standards and, with assistance from a federal initiative reducing greenhouse gas emissions in government operations, the Agency obtained the funding for the upgrades to attain Platinum certification.

“The vision for the Operations Centre was to demonstrate how a building can be designed to respond to its site and environment and, consequently, minimize dependence on outside sources of energy and impacts on the environment,” said Ron Hamilton, Superintendent of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

As project manager, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) also acted in the role of environmental advisor. PWGSC also undertook life-cycle costing, which is particularly useful for evaluating the long-term benefits of energy and water conservation, and renewable energy projects. The project is in keeping with departmental efforts toward greater sustainability, as exemplified by the recent creation of the Office of Greening Government Operations.

“We were very fortunate to have Parks Canada champion their environmental vision, and to have PWGSC contribute their expertise and commitment to the success of this special project,” explained project architect Ron Kato, of Larry McFarland Architects Ltd. “The outcome has exceeded all of the team’s expectations.”

Obtaining LEED Platinum certification is quite an achievement, but it isn’t the only recognition the Centre has received: the building also won the 2006 British Columbia Wood Design Award for High Performance Building for a design that reduces energy, resource use and pollution.


– Public Works and Government Services Canada Press Release, December 2006


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