This is my very first blog assignment as Miss Teen Red Deer-World 2013 and it is sponsored to us girls by the wonderful people at Tiocoat! The challenge was to focus on “green buildings”, and the amazing things that the builders and architects of these places are doing for society! Tiocoat brings to light concepts such as a flat roof or “white roof,” things that a lot of people are not aware of. I’m going to talk about Red Deer’s very own green building and the unbelievable things that this place has done not only for Red Deer, but it’s employees. It’s truly remarkable.
What exactly is a “green building“?
A green building refers to a structure that is both resource efficient and environmentally responsible in their environment. All components of the building process are taken into consideration when classifying it as “green.” These components include the demolition of the previous structure, construction or renovation of the structure and the recycling or use of the waste. The main purpose of implementing green buildings in our cities is to reduce the overall impact of the built environments and pollution on human health and living. This is done through activities such as installing energy and water efficiency procedures, reducing waste and pollution, and the protection of worker’s health hence improving productivity in the workplace.
New to Red Deer, we have our own “green building!” Berry Architecture + Associates has completely transformed the old “Bowladrome” building into an environmental innovation in our city! Visiting the building myself I was amazed to see just how innovative this place was. 96% of the existing building’s original structure was reused in the remodeling of this building. The reasoning? Reusing buildings requires fewer materials and creates less demolition waste. Therefore, the environmental impact that this renovation caused, including transport and manufacturing, were greatly reduced. On top of this, almost all existing furniture was re-used as well. New furniture can release harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can trigger headaches, nausea and fatigue.
The new Berry Architecture + Associates building is also LEED certified under the Green Building Council. What is LEED? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Originally a rating system created by the US Green Building Council, in 2002, Canada’s Green Building Council adapted the system for use and practice in Canada. This system can be applied to commercial and residential development, as well as new buildings or entire neighborhoods. The purpose of the LEED system is to encourage a “sustainable approach to design” which places heavy importance on human and environmental health in our world.
A few other interesting and innovative aspects of this amazing building is that it is located in the heart of downtown Red Deer, which was taken into consideration when choosing a location for this project. By being located downtown, the building is within easy walking distance from a wide variety of services that employees would otherwise drive to from work. Such as banks, stores, restaurants, parks and public transit sites. Also, if employees choose to bike to work at their “green” office, the builders at Berry Architecture has included bicycle storage as part of their plan. As well as showers and change rooms to make cycling an even more desirable option for employees. Another focus of this LEED green building is the Green Roof, which serves a variety of functions. The permeable surface filters and collects storm water to reduce polluted runoff and it reduces the urban heat island effect. (A metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding area due to human activities.) The green roof is also used as a work space for employees as well as a vegetable garden! Also, education on green buildings takes place up on the green roof where people discuss building practices and environmental issues.
On average, Canadians spend 90% of their time indoors, so the people at Berry Architecture + Associates believe that it is very important to design a building that is both safe and comfortable for people indoors. This includes monitoring and preserving air quality, temperature and even lighting…
In this very special building, all printers and photocopiers are enclosed and have a separate ventilation. Materials such as carpet and ceramic tiles used inside the building have very low levels of VOC’s as well as all paints and finishes. Individual thermostats allow employees to adjust the temperature to suit their own personal needs which only helps with the comfort aspect of work. Which also increases worker productivity and well-being. Another unique aspect is that smoking is prohibited within 7.5 meters from the building which is 50% further than the standard restriction.
As if the list could get any longer, but this extremely impressive building also works to preserve energy and maintain a clean atmosphere. Buildings, as we all know, can consume a lot of unnecessary energy. Therefore, it is imperative to reduce that energy as much as we can. In the Berry Architecture building daylight and motion sensors have been installed to ensure that lights are not left on accidentally or unnecessarily. There is also an abundance of natural lighting within the buildings interior. Another innovation is the condensing boilers and heat recovery which reduce fossil fuel consumption costs by 35%. As in many green buildings, there are solar panels installed on the green roof to provide the building with hot water, eliminating the need for energy to heat water. The buildings overall electricity comes from 100% renewable resources like wind power, provided to the building by Bow Valley Power. Also, the building includes a VAV (Variable Air Volume) box that makes the air conditioning system much more efficient. It allows much less energy to be used up by fans that direct air throughout the building.
A key component to a LEED certified building is that the building must use 20% less water, at least, than the average building of the same type and structure. Therefore, the Berry Architecture building uses rainwater and grey water rather than potable water in their toilets and fixtures such as faucets, showerheads and dishwashers are all highly efficient. Also, there is native vegetation on the green roof which is much more water-efficient and when needed, it is watered with collected rainwater. Recycling bins, much like the ones we use in our homes are a small but powerful way to also make a difference in a building much like the Berry Architecture building. Recycling bins allow us to easily collect and separate materials. (ex. paper, plastics, metals, bottles and cans.) There is also a compost bin located on the green roof which allows for organic materials to be sent to the landfill.
At least 50% of the construction waste from construction was either salvaged or recycled.
I am extremely proud of the green building we have in Red Deer, and I would like to thank Berry Architecture + Associates for their innovations in this field and for being trailblazers in a city that craves change like this. I believe that this building has triggered some serious interest in Red Deer, and I firmly believe that there will be much more buildings like this popping up all over Red Deer. I would also like to give a humongous thank you to the people that participated in “Green Deer,” a movement in the city of Red Deer to clean up after the winter garbage. It has truly not gone unnoticed. Red Deer is back to looking it’s most beautiful self, a clean and healthy place to play, walk or run outside without stepping over garbage everywhere.
Thank you for taking the time to catch up a little on my blog. I hope you learned something new! I know I did!