Model green design squeezes most from tight city budget

Niagara Regional Headquarters

The new building creates an urban street presence at a suburban intersection.

The tight budget and schedule requirements of a Design Build contract, combined with the sustainable agenda of a LEED® municipal client set this project apart from others of similar scope and scale. The four-storey office building is an extension to the existing Thorold City Hall, and consolidates operational services for the Niagara Region.

The building wraps around a triangular courtyard which acts as both a ventilation shaft and a communal lobby for the facility. This form creates a strong urban corner in a suburban context at the intersection of Thorold and St. David’s Road, with the entrance addressing the street rather than the parking lot. As a municipal building it was critical that the project be realized as economically as possible and that it be a model of green design for the community.

The building program consists of a variety of office facilities for municipal services, including planning, community and social services, health and general administration. The relatively low budget and tight site encouraged the use of a compact building plan. A broadened public connection between the new and old buildings welcomes citizens into a space that was previously hidden within the parking lot. This link connects the parking lot to the street and to the new central cafeteria and atrium space, encouraging informal interaction between staff and visitors.

Parking requirements were reduced for this project from the local planning guidelines to encourage car pooling and transit use. The headquarters are located close to convenient bus routes, and the region of Niagara is actively encouraging bicycle commuting through the provision of bike racks and showers.

The form of the Atrium maximizes access to natural light, and all workstations are within 7m of either the atrium or exterior wall. Over 75% of the interior spaces receive natural daylight, and over 90% of the interior spaces have exterior views.

High efficiency T8 lighting fixtures with occupancy sensors automatically turn-off lights when occupants are not detected in the space, and light paint colours further maximize lighting efficiency. Light fixtures include both up and down lighting to reduce glare and increase reflected light.

East and west facing windows have perpendicular fins to reduce summer glare. Operable windows occur regularly every 6ft. to accommodate individual control and natural ventilation. “Stack Effect” in the atrium promotes natural ventilation of the central space.

The incorporation of access flooring allows for heating and cooling occurring at floor level to increase the comfort of individual employees and reduce energy consumption.

Potable wastewater has been reduced through the use of half-flush urinals [1.9 L/minute], dual-flush toilets [4.2L/6.0L per flush], low-flow washroom lavatories [1.9 L/minute], low-flow kitchen faucets [1.9 L/minute], and low-flow showerheads [6.0 L/minute]. The half-flush urinals and dual-flush toilets reduce the amount of wastewater required for flushing by 23%. Of the wastewater that is required, 35% is displaced using rainwater collected from the roof and stored in an 18,000L cistern.

The Niagara Regional Headquarters achieves 32% reduction in energy use through the combination of measures including: walls, roofs, and windows with high thermal performance, high efficiency light fixtures and occupancy sensors, efficient air handling units, demand-controlled ventilation, condensing boilers and hot water heaters and pumps with variable frequency drives.

Over 8,000 sq.m of modular flooring is installed in the primary office areas. This fully adaptable system serves as a plenum for heating and cooling air distribution, and also provides for individual air control with vents supplied regularly throughout the space.
The underfloor plenum also accommodates a cable chase for communications, data, and power. Ductwork, air diffusers, cabling, and user access points can be relocated without any demolition activities. In addition, the office space can be reconfigured to adapt to future occupant requirements.

A modular partition wall system defines spaces within three 2,668sq.m open floor plates. The only permanent interior walls constructed in this area of the building are those surrounding stairwells, washrooms, duct chases and service rooms, totaling approximately 370sq.m of floor area. This allows for easy future change of use and replacement of materials. At the end of a building’s life cycle, these adaptable systems can be disassembled and reprocessed on future projects.

Through the realization of this building, the Regional municipality has achieved its objective - to set an example of environmental responsibility and stewardship for its community - both in terms of a more urban typology, and through the architectural language.

Design team: Stephen Teeple, Bernard Jin, Martin Baron, Cheryl Atkinson, David Jensen, Robert Ree, Teeple architects inc.

Project performance:

  • Water Consumption: Water conservation measures result in a 51% reduction in potable water use for sewage conveyance compared to baseline conditions. Projected potable water consumption for the building from municipal or other centralized off-site supply is 247 litres/m2/year.
  • Lighting: Overall lighting power density of 9.42 W/m2, is one-half lower than that allowed by the Model National Energy Code for Buildings [MNECB]. Projected Annual Energy Consumption for Lighting is 28.7 kWh/m2.
  • Energy Consumption: The projected Annual Electrical Energy Consumption for the building is 83.3kWh/m2.
  • Materials: 10% of building material content is recycled, including carpet tile and composite material in the millwork, and over 20% of the building materials are local and regional products, including the concrete, drywall and wood. 97% of construction waste was diverted from landfill. The primary components of diverted materials are asphalt, concrete, wood, metal and gypsum board.

C redits:

  • Client: Region of Niagara Architect Teeple Architects Inc., Toronto
  • Associate Architect: Chapman Murray Associates Architects, Niagara Falls, ON
  • Structural Engineer: Reid Jones Christoffersen Ltd., Toronto, ON
  • Mechanical Engineer: Dordan Mechanical Contractors Ltd., New Hamburg, ON
  • Electrical Engineers: Birnie Electric Ltd., Mississauga, ON
  • Civil Engineer: MTE Consultants Inc., Kitchener, ON
  • Landscape Architect: John A Morley and Associates, Niagara on the Lake, ON
  • General Contractor: Ball Construction Inc., Kitchener, ON
  • Photo: Shai Gil, Toronto


  • Structure: Steel frame and roof trusses with precast concrete Coreslab floors Exterior: Courtyard facade: fibre-reinforced 8mm thick calcium silicate cement panel cladding by Super Panel, Bakor Blueskin air/ vapour barrier, 100mm thick extruded polystyrene insulation, commercial grade Tyvek air barrier. Other facades: BASF Walltite sprayed-on insulation, and Durabond Exterior Wall Insulation System. Exterior lighting full cut-off HID wallpacks by Canlyte-Keene, and incandescent potlights by Canlyte-Lightolier.
  • Interior: CertainTeed Gypsum Drywall [formerly BPB Canada], Glidden Lifemaster by ICI; American Standard toilets with Sloan Upper Cut Dual-Flush Flushometer which can deliver 30% reduction in flushing water [4.2 L/f], American Standard Innsbrook 1.9l Proximity Flush urinals, Delta 596 Innovations Mixing / Sensing Electronic faucets with 0.5gpm vandal resistant spray outlet, Delta modified shower heads to meet the LEED requirement of 1.6 usgpm; AO Smith Cyclone XHE [Extra High Efficiency] water heaters, [Information courtesy Dordan Mechanical Contractors Ltd.]; T8 lighting, compact fluorescent potlights and low voltage potlights all by Canlyte-Lightolier, Occupancy Sensors by Wattstopper, Building Controls by Johnson Controls.
  • HVAC: Raised access flooring containing low-pressure plenum with manual and motorized air diffusers by Nailor Industries Inc., York rooftop air handling units for three main floors, Carrier high-efficiency roof units for classrooms and café and Carrier V.V.T. controls, Lochinvar condensing boilers and hot water heaters [Information courtesy Coanda Incorporated].

extra material not published in the magazine:

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