When Evergreen took on the challenge of converting a derelict brick-making factory into a community environmental centre, including a LEED Platinum headquarters, some speculated that we had bitten off more than we could chew.
Almost 14 years later and with Evergreen Brick Works a bustling, award-winning destination, the final construction milestone was finally achieved this summer: The Centre for Green Cities received LEED Platinum accreditation, the highest measure of efficient building status.
This is the first ever LEED Platinum accreditation in North America granted to a community centre on a heritage site and a floodplain. We are so grateful to the many brilliant and dedicated partners—from architects, to construction workers and developers, to our financial supporters and many more—who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to realize Evergreen’s ambition.
But now that we’ve reached our ultimate goal, the really exciting challenge is how we maintain, manage and eke out maximum efficiency from the Centre for Green Cities. To do that, we turned to Evergreen’s facility manager, Colin Jones:
Congratulations! How does it make you feel to be the manager of a LEED Platinum building?
It has been interesting going through the process. It’s a unique facility because it is a commercial building sitting on top of an events building, on a community centre-like campus.
What makes the building so efficient?
The walls have are rated R40 for insulation. In terms of window to wall ratios, we’re at 40:60, which is ideal to let in maximum natural light, but also to control how much heat or cool air can escape outdoors.
I can use natural ventilation up to about 24 or 25 degrees celsius if the humidity is lower than 70 percent. If the humidity is above that, the computer—which looks at wind speed, rain, temperature range and humidity—won’t let me flip it open.
We can also do daylight harvesting. Sensors up on the ceiling dim the lights when the sun comes down on the perimeter of the building. Interestingly, the design of the dimming system mimics the natural ability of your iris to open and close.
What could someone else wanting to build a LEED Platinum facility learn from us?
We are a little different from most commercial buildings, but the bottom line efficiencies are seen on the balance sheet. If you’re building from scratch you can do it but if you are retrofitting, it’s kind of hard to get to Platinum.
The controls of this place are quite unique and because it’s a small building it has to be controlled precisely. If you’ve got a great big building and something goes wrong it takes a lot of time to feel the effect. Whereas in a small building, you always have to anticipate what’s to come. That is why I am always looking ahead; I have to know what events are going to be in the building and the weather forecast and such.
Another interesting consideration is the behaviour of the people in the building. We’re encouraged here to wear sweaters in winter and more cool, loose fitting clothing in summer. Adapting ourselves to dress according to our own personal comfort gives me a broader range to work within to attain the ideal temperature for everyone.
Do the solar panels on Building 14, Café Belong and Evergreen Garden Market, actually power the charging station for electric vehicles?
They are tied into the exact same panel; the solar panels generate electricity back into the grid and that part of the grid also hosts the charging stations. So when you plug-in your car at Evergreen Brick Works, electrons from the sun are charging your car. Maybe not completely, but it is getting a boost from the sun.
Finally, is it true that you can control the building while at home in your pajamas?
I can control the building automation system and the lighting system from anywhere, as long as I have access to Internet.
To learn more about the building features at Evergreen Brick Works that helped give us our LEED Platinum status, visit the Green Design Exhibit in the Centre for Green Cities, or take the Green Design tour on August 23.