Woodward Avenue Environmental Laboratory

Wastewater testing facility

Low environmental impact and high indoor air quality drive design

The low profile building is clad with cedar siding, brick and stucco that help connect it to its residential neighbourhood
by Greg Sather

Completed in 2007, the new 26,340sf water and wastewater testing facility, part of the City of Hamilton’s central sewage treatment plant, sits in a mixed residential and industrial neighbourhood.
The location presented some unusual design challenges including: how to offset the heavy building systems loads and environmental impacts inherent in this building type; how to minimize the facility’s environmental impact on the adjacent residential community; and how to maximize indoor air quality.
The single-storey wastewater testing facility maintains a low profile in keeping with the scale of its residential neighbours, and the use of exterior materials such as wood siding, brick and stucco further strengthens this connection. The program is arranged in an L shape and consists of four distinct laboratory components with administration offices for plant operations as well as the compliance and regulation divisions.
From the centrally located main foyer, circulation corridors bisect the north and east wings of the building facilitating future expansion. The Laboratory components have been designed for modular inter-connectability. The cabinetry can be moved and rearranged from lab to lab, offering maximum flexibility for future use.
The sustainability strategy began with a comprehensive construction waste management program that promoted extensive recycling during the construction process, and reduced landfill waste by 87%. There was also a great effort made to use local materials [25%] and recycled materials [15%] in this project. The facility was also designed to be completely demountable and recyclable, through construction with bolted connections and use of screws rather than nails.
Because this is a wastewater testing and monitoring facility for municipal water, water conservation was a critical driving component of the project. The site’s landscaping plan incorporates native vegetation to reduce water consumption and restore open spaces.
No irrigation system was installed; instead, all vegetated areas were planted with drought-tolerant species that would also withstand the industrial nature of the site. In turn, the project’s storm water management strategy directed water flow through a series of vegetated swales, bio-swales and sediment ponds helping to return 99% of all site water back into the ground.
All roof water is collected into a cistern and, after being filtered, is sent back to the toilets for flushing. The cistern is equipped with an ultra violet disinfection system which incorporates a UV monitor with audible and visual indicators for proper maintenance and field replacement.
Aerated faucets, low-flow fixtures, dual- flush toilets, and waterless urinals are further measures taken to reduce the amount of water consumption within the building. These measures will result in a water use reduction of over 60% and completely eliminate waste water production.
Energy conservation in laboratories is particularly challenging because of the requirement for 100% fresh air make-up. However, there are many strategies that have been incorporated into the design of the building envelope and mechanical systems that optimize energy performance.
First, an increase in the insulation levels of the building’s walls and roof, along with high-performance fibreglass frame windows [argon filled and double low-E coatings specific to the window orientation] reduces the building’s overall energy demand.
Highly efficient under floor heating and air-conditioning distribution is used in the office areas for better thermal comfort and individual control. Other energy efficient features include condensing boilers, heat recovery ventilators on exhaust air, and high efficiency instantaneous hot water heaters for domestic water.
Window orientation, together with exterior solar control screening to reduce glare, admits abundant natural light that minimizes dependence on artificial light, and reduces the overall lighting power density. Most occupied rooms have natural daylight, operable windows and individual temperature and ventilation controls to maximize thermal comfort according to season, orientation and personal preference. There is a direct line of sight to vision glazing in 93% of all regularly occupied areas.
Attention to indoor air quality further improves occupant comfort. Controlled by inside and outside temperature sensors, motorized clerestory windows in the main lobby automatically open to vent out warm air. This natural ventilation automation helps to delay use of the air conditioning system, especially when there is only a 5° F to 10° F difference between inside and outside temperatures.
Occupancy and daylight sensors control the high-efficiency light fixtures throughout the building. Carbon dioxide sensors monitor the quality of air in specific rooms and the mechanical ventilation system adjusts accordingly.
Perhaps more than any other city in Canada, Hamilton has been associated with environmental degradation and pollution. Now leading by example, the City is committed to rehabilitation and change, and to engendering a new sense of civic pride and environmental stewardship.

Greg Sather, MRAIC, OAA, LEED® AP, is a partner in McCallum Sather Architects.



  • Architect: McCallum Sather Architects, Hamilton, ON
  • LEED Administration: McCallum Sather Architects, Hamilton, ON
  • Lab Design Consultants: Watson MacEwen Architects, Ottawa
  • Mechanical Engineer: Stantec, Toronto
  • Structural Engineer: Vanderwesten & Rutherford Associates Ltd., Ancaster, ON
  • Commissioning Agent: Stantec, Kitchener, ON
  • Construction: Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd., Brampton, ON
  • Landscape Architect: Wendy Shearer
  • Landscape Architect: Ltd., Hamilton, ON
  • Civil Engineer: S. Llewellyn and Associates Ltd., Ancaster, ON
  • Electrical Engineer: Vanderwesten & Rutherford Associates Inc., Ancaster, ON
  • Photos: Insite Photography, Toronto


  • Structure: Wood frame construction with Trusjoist wood and steel trusses and steel roof deck.
  • Exterior: IKO two-ply bitumen roofing and Bakor Blueskin on the walls over Roxul insulation and sheathing, reclaimed brick and western red cedar siding applied as a rainscreen, Durabond exterior stucco system; aluminum storefront windows by Aerloc Industries Ltd. with PPG tempered Solarban 60 glazing, fiberglass frame windows by Inline Fiberglass Ltd.
  • HVAC: See the web version of this article at www.sabmag.net, issue 13 Sept/Oct 2008 for a summary of the HVAC system.
  • Interior: Camino Modular Systems access flooring with InterfaceFLOR carpet tile, Forbo vinyl and Armstrong linoleum, low VOC Pittsburgh Paints, Caroma dual flush toilets, Water Matrix waterless urinals, Delta low-flow faucets, Sterilight Model S24Q water sterilizer, Tagaki tankless water heater; Nysan Greenscreen roller shades on windows; Metalumen lighting and Wattstopper occupancy sensors.
  • Building floor area: 2,447 sq.m
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