UK’s greenest diplomatic building in the world opens in Ottawa

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The UK government’s new Canadian headquarters is the greenest building within its diplomatic network.

Designed by HOK, the high-performance building is designed to capture passive solar heat, reduce water usage by 40 percent and incorporate locally sourced recycled construction materials. Additional sustainability features of the LEED Gold-targeted building include extensive daylighting, vehicle charging stations and a program to divert 75 percent of construction waste for recycling.

“Our new High Commission, located within the historic grounds of Earnscliffe, not only reinforces our shared history with Canada but also represents a significant investment in the modern UK-Canada bilateral relationship,” said Susannah Goshko, British High Commissioner to Canada. “It is a great demonstration of our shared commitment to environmental sustainability.”

Green elements of the new building include diverting 98 per cent of construction waste away from landfill, and incorporating wood salvaged from the Ottawa River and stone from the original residence coach house into the new design.

The project aims to be economically sustainable by operating at a lower cost thanks to its energy efficiency rating which is currently on track to perform at 18% above the baseline average.

Water consumption will also be reduced through environmental features being incorporated into the landscape design, including native and drought resistant vegetation that mitigates the need for irrigation. Low flow plumbing fixtures throughout the building also aim to reduce annual water consumption by between 25% – 30% above the baseline average.

Modern construction material will create a healthier work environment, including high-albedo roofing materials that will mitigate urban heat-island effects and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) furnishings that provide a healthier environment for staff and visitors.

The British High Commission at 80 Elgin Street was constructed in 1962 and served as the first official offices for the UK High Commission in Canada for over 60 years. In 2022 it was purchased by the National Capital Commission following a decision to construct a new High Commission in the grounds of Earnscliffe.

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