The Vento

Water and energy conservation highlight mixed commercial / residential

The master plan required an almost full build-out of the site, a former parking lot. Located in an older single-family and store front neighbourhood, The Vento uses sensitive massing and varied exterior finishing materials. Along with 100% of the rainwater falling on the site, water from sinks, showers and bathtubs is stored and re-used for toilet flushing and site irrigation - the first project in Alberta to be granted approval for such. Moreover, the project has achived energy efficiency of 47% as compared to the MNECB.
By Windmill Developments

The Vento is a three-storey mixed use development of 3,613 sq.m, with retail space and two affordable housing units on the ground floor, and 22 two-storey suites above. The project is part of the first phase in the comprehensive redevelopment of a former hospital site in suburban Calgary.
The site chosen by Windmill Developments has many sustainable attributes, including the redevelopment of a former parking lot and proximity to parks, transit and a variety of local amenities within the planned high density, mixed use community known as ‘The Bridges.’
Stringent design guidelines required almost full build-out of the site, presenting challenges both in the mitigation of the urban heat island effect and in the management of storm water. The ground floor retail units extend almost the full depth of the site north to south, their roof slabs forming a south-facing terrace for the shallower residential units above. These accessible terraces are planted with drought resistant indigenous species, and elsewhere the roof is covered in a reflective, low-emissivity roofing material.
With respect to water management, the design response was to create an underground storage cistern and reuse tank enabling storm water to be recycled for toilet flushing, and for excess water to be released into the city system at a controlled rate.
Energy savings are achieved through an integrated approach, including efficient envelope design with R20 insulation, high performance windows, passive ventilation, heat recovery ventilators and radiant flooring in the residential units.
The building received a LEED Platinum certification - the first in Canada for a building of this type.

[Refer to SABMag, Jan/Feb 2007 Issue for more details on this project]

jury comments

The Windmill Development project makes sense on several levels: it shows excellent performance, offers a new urban answer for multi-residential with commercial on the ground floor, and provides very comfortable living space. The two-storey units face inward to give important ground access to an internal courtyard. Thus entries and balconies face the more serene courtyard rather than the busy, urban activities of the street.
The design pays particular attention to water conservation and, overall, the architects have controlled the technology, not the other way around.

Watch a video of the jury commenting on the project on youtube:


  • Architect: Busby Perkins+Will, Vancouver
  • Owner: Windmill Development Group, Victoria and Ottawa
  • General Contractor: Stuart Olsen, Calgary
  • Landscape Architect: Riparia, Calgary
  • Electrical /Mechanical: Keen Engineering/Stantec, Calgary
  • Structural Engineers: Read, Jones, Christofferson, Calgary
  • Interior Designer: Penner and Associates, Vancouver
  • Ecological Consultants: Aqua-tex Scientific, Victoria
  • Green Building Consultant: BuildGreen Consulting, Ottawa
  • Commissionning Agent: Lessoway Moir Partners, Calgary
  • Photos: Justin Lacoursiere, Calgary


  • Structure: Concrete with metal studs.
  • Exterior: Clay brick, western red cedar with clear water-based stain, fibre cement panels; high performance [R5] triple glazing, TPO roof membrane.
  • HVAC: Radiant heating [glycol] from high efficiency boilers; heat recovery systems recover heat
    from the exhaust air to temper incoming air; heat pipe heat recovery separates air streams to prevent cross contamination of the outdoor air with exhaust.
  • Interior: Drywall with low VOC paint, Interface carpet tile, strawboard for cabinets, Forbo Marmoleum Fresco linoleum flooring, bamboo flooring.
  • Building gross floor area: 3,613 sq.m
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