Sustainable Ottawa construction: “Beacon” projects demonstrate successful environmental and energy savings initiatives

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STAFF WRITER
– The Ottawa Construction News

What makes a “Beacon Sustainable Project?”

Panelists at a Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) Ottawa chapter gathering on Nov. 4 explored the challenges and opportunities in reaching to the highest level of environmental sustainability.

Jonathan Westeinde, founder and managing partner of Windmill Developments, which is developing the Chaudiere Islands Zibi project, said the challenge is to create an appealing, collaborative environment on land where five levels of government have an interest.

Principles include:

• To promote development that celebrates the long heritage of the lands;

• To make the development connect seamlessly with the surrounding community and broader capital region;

• To promote healthy living;

• To promote and provide access to a vibrant waterfront;

• To create a complete community with a broad range of uses;

• To promote and incubate innovation and creativity; and

• To create and enhance views, both to and from the islands.

He said, within the framework of the Barry Hobin designed master plan, there will be diversity in design through international design competitions for the different blocks within the site. However, all the designs will be based on carbon neutrality.

Salus executive director Lisa Ker outlined the progress in constructing Salus Clementine, the first affordable housing project in the continent built to the International Passive House standards. With new materials and different construction methods, building costs are higher and Salus expects to recoup the modest additional initial investment through much lower energy and operating costs than a conventional building.

She said the project to provide housing for individuals living with serious mental illness needs to combine sustainability, affordability, comfort and versatility. “We operate well maintained, affordable buildings. If we want people to integrate into society, our buildings need to integrate society.”

Event organizer Sonia Zouari said Ottawa is the first city in North America to support an affordable housing development to the international Passive House standard: the most rigorous comfort standard that ensures a building is free from draughts, free from cold spots, free from excessive over heating “and provided with a constant supply of fresh, clean air for an incredible indoor air quality. And it does all this with a maximum energy demand of 10 birthday candles per 350 sq. ft.,” she said.

Ottawa Coun. David Chirnechenko says the city should aim to be a Renewable Energy Powered City, achieving 100 per cent renewable energy status by 2050 as the city joins the world in tackling climate change challenges

“It’s a rallying cry around the world,” that leadership in environmental sustainability and climate change is happening at the municipal level.

Renee Gratton, founding director of the Construction Resource Initiatives Council (CRIC) moderated the event at Algonquin College, and concluded the event reminding the audience to: Leave no one behind by ensuring sustainability meeting a basic level of environmental and social standards;

Live within the earth’s safe operating space, while ensuring equitable prosperity and sustainable growth;

Leave assets behind for future generations, by building social, economic, and environmental capital.

The event was made possible through the initiative of CSC Ottawa chapter chair and sustainability advocate Sonia Zouari.

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