2011 SAB Awards Winning Project - Shepard Environmental Education Centre

Located on the outskirts of Calgary, the Shepard wetland is part of a 227ha storm water management initiative to improve the quality of storm water entering the Bow River.  Development of this site also creates an open water habitat for wildlife.  It is a regionally significant migratory and breeding habitat for waterfowl, and will provide important connections with surrounding wetland areas.

Jury Comments: Designed as a constructed wetland for stormwater management and as a public environmental education centre, the project is an extraordinary and beautiful example of the integration of landscape design and architecture. The building treads lightly on the site in a manner that reflects the conservation mandate of the organization while also giving the citizens of Calgary a worthwhile recreational experience. Energy performance is modelled to be 50% better than a building designed under the Model National Energy Code.

In conjunction with the storm water project, Ralph Klein Park was developed as a 28ha open space that will highlight the environmental attributes of wetland environments while providing educational and recreational opportunities. This park is also home to the Shepard Environmental Education Centre [EEC].  The 1,932m2, two-storey building sits on piles within the wetland and is connected to the shore by two bridges. The program includes classrooms, exhibition space, administrative and support facilities, and provides a location for interactive public education on wetlands, water issues, sustainability, and environmental ethics and values. The smaller upper floor contains the offices of Ducks Unlimited, and provides access to viewing terraces and vegetated roof areas.

Because of its very purpose, this building and site must clearly illustrate the larger principles of building within an ecological framework. Given the context of the Shepard Wetlands, the use and conservation of water is the most visible sustainable design theme for the EEC. Composting and low-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and areas of ‘green’ roof are examples of the water conservation methods being used and evaluated. All potable water is supplied from a well on-site and is stored for domestic use and fire protection in a 130,000 litre water tank located just west of the EEC. Water supply for the drip irrigation system to all trees is taken from treated storm water in the wetland.

The building sub-structure and main floor deck are of concrete construction, above which the primary structure transitions into glulam post and beam. Gabion walls of local stone and aluminum-framed curtain walls are the other main materials used.
Energy-conserving strategies for the EEC began with careful building orientation and included a high-performance rain screen exterior envelope, along with specific measures to reduce solar heat gain and glare. Solar panels provide domestic hot water and partial heating for the radiant slab. Operable windows and extensive solar shading have resulted in no requirement for traditional air conditioning. With the exception of doors, all exterior windows are low-E triple glazed. The glazing tint was chosen for its high degree of transparency coupled with superior shading performance.

Artificial lighting was designed with a combination of low-voltage controls, motion sensors and day lighting sensors. Lighting on the outside of the building is connected to both the Building Management System [BMS] as well as to a photocell control system. These measures were designed to maximize lamp life and reduce energy consumption. To maximize life-cycle performance, the building was designed to be both durable and easily maintained. This lead to the choice of a glulam structure as well as the selection of exterior materials such as zinc and composite cement board which can be recycled, require no ongoing maintenance, and have an almost unlimited life span. Also, most of the EEC roof was constructed with a protected membrane system that will provide an extended service life.


    Architect Simpson Roberts Architecture Interior Design Inc, Calgary
    Owner/Developer City of Calgary Parks, Calgary
    General Contractor Graham Construction, Calgary
    Landscape Architect Carson McCulloch & Associates, Calgary
    Civil Engineer CH2M Hill, Calgary
    Electrical Engineer Stebnicki + Partners, Calgary
    Mechanical Engineer SNC Lavalin, Calgary
    Structural Engineer Read Jones Christoffersen, Calgary
    Interior Design Dotted i, Calgary
    LEED Consultant James Love, Calgary
    Photos Steve Nagy, Charles Hope, Calgary


  • - Energy intensity: 960 MJ/m2/year [Includes both base building and process energy]
  • - Local materials by value: 32%
  • - Recycled materials content by value: 18%
  • - Water consumption from municipal source: 0 litres/occupant/year [Includes both base building and process energy]

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