Vancouver Convention Centre Offers More Than a Green Roof

The Canada Green Building Council and BC Hydro are working together to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings in British Columbia through energy conservation. The two organizations have launched a joint effort to improve the design, construction and operation of buildings in this province.

The Vancouver Convention Centre

With the world coming to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion had to be spectacular. And sustainable.

Thanks to BC Hydro’s High Performance Building Program, this task was a little less daunting. BC Hydro helped build in energy efficiency from the ground up. And it’s anticipated that the kilowatt hours of energy saved per year will be equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power 220 homes for a full year.

Covering approximately four city blocks with 40 percent built out over the water, and all of it covered by a six-acre green roof – the Vancouver Convention Centre has added not only style but sustainability to its iconic status.

Expanding the Convention Centre and Adding a New, Energy-Efficient Icon to Vancouver’s Waterfront

The effect was immediate: as soon as the Vancouver Convention Centre opened in 1987, its five-sail design came to symbolize Vancouver as a vital, attractive and exciting waterfront city.

This April, the centre is poised to add a new element to its iconic status: a 1.1 million square foot expansion – 40 per cent of it built out over the water and all of it covered by a stunning six-acre green roof – developed to the highest possible standards of energy efficiency.

“Five years ago, the first concern of convention planners was security,” says Warren Buckley, President and CEO of BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), the Crown Corporation that manages both the Vancouver Convention Centre and BC Place Stadium. “Now, that’s dropped to number two. Today, they say tell us about your sustainability – they want to know how green we are, and it’s absolutely vital for us to be able to offer a sustainable facility.”

Planning began for the convention centre’s expansion many years ago, as soon as demand for conference space began to far outstrip what the existing centre could supply. But sustainability, says Project Manager Dave Walker, was always an essential part of the planning process. “From the beginning, we knew we wanted to build a sustainable building and to achieve LEED® Gold standard”– which is why the planners signed up for BC Hydro’s High Performance Building Program at the very start of the design process.

More about the expansion

The new space:
• covers approximately four city blocks
• connects to the original centre by a 200-foot glass-enclosed walkway
• includes a six-acre green roof with over 400,000 indigenous plants, more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space and 52 break-out meeting rooms
• an on site black water treatment facility that will produce enough water to irrigate the roof and flush toilets, and
• is expected to generate an additional $107 million a year in delegate spending

Built-in energy efficiency

The High Performance Building Program provides financial incentives, resources and technical assistance to help developers of new commercial and multi-residential building projects build-in energy efficiency where it can make the most difference: from the ground up.

“Nothing beats having energy efficiency built-in from the outset,” says Dave Walker. “It’s a lot less expensive than having to re-design your whole project later because you suddenly realize you should have done it in the first place.

Also, through the BC Hydro program, we received more than $200,000 in financial incentives – and every dollar helps, of course – but more than that, Hydro also brought us their knowledge and expertise in identifying and evaluating design options.”

High performance inside and out

Energy-saving measures completed as part of the Vancouver Convention Centre expansion project with the help of the High Performance Building Program include:

• upgraded (R18) roof insulation
• variable speed drives on pumps, so they don’t run at 100 per cent when they don’t need to
• high efficiency lighting
• premium efficiency transformers
• daylight sensors applied on all perimeter spaces
• heat-recovery chillers, recovering waste heat that provide significant steam energy savings, and
• demand-control ventilation, where spaces are ventilated only when they are occupied.

“We anticipate that we will save a total of 2.2 million kilowatt hours of energy a year,” – equivalent of providing electricity to 220 homes for a full year- says Dave. “We will also produce about 750 to 800 tonnes less carbon dioxide each year – equal to removing 146 average cars from the road – than a conventionally designed centre.”
Courtesy – Canada Green Building Council

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