2012 SAB Awards Winning Project - Centre for Green Cities at Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto

The Evergreen Brick Works project transformed an abandoned industrial site in Toronto’s Don Valley into an environmentally-themed community landmark that engages visitors in diverse experiences connected to nature and the city. In collaboration with the non-profit Evergreen, whose national headquarters are located here, a multi-disciplinary team adopted the approach of ‘light touch and loose fit’ to all aspects of the project: site remediation, preservation of 16 heritage buildings, landscaping, water management and programming.

The building retains and incorporates an existing brick wall at ground level - tying it visually to the historic structures around it. Inline Fiberglass provided the high-performance fiberglass frame windows.

The one new building is the Centre for Green Cities [CGC]. This 5,000m2 LEED Platinum candidate uses the existing footprint and walls of a former brick-pressing shed and retains historical references and cultural interventions, such as decades of graffiti. It was critical to embody Evergreen’s mission to bring together nature, culture and community in the Centre’s design.

The overriding sustainable initiative for the building resulted in an innovative and interactive approach to controlling the internal atmosphere. Heating, cooling and ventilation use both active and passive systems. Sensors and e-mail notifications alert users when to open or close windows to maintain optimal conditions.

It was recognized that the most important building feature for the CGC was a high-performance envelope that not only reduces energy costs for the building’s new life span but also improves occupant comfort. Ventilation energy conservation strategies include a high-performance heat recovery system with a desiccant wheel for latent energy, and a glycol run-around loop for sensible energy. Heating is decoupled from ventilation and is provided by an in-floor radiant system on the ground floor and radiators around the perimeter of interior spaces, rather than through the ventilation system. The result of these types of solutions is an electricity and gas consumption reduction of 50%.

The building is not fully cooled, but instead embraces natural ventilation as an energy conserving technique that reduces the refrigeration plant size and improves indoor air quality. Operable windows throughout the office space are augmented by cross ventilation, ceiling fans and three solar chimneys. A single variable speed central air handling unit provides up to 100% outside air and serves the entire building.

The window-to-wall ratio is 23% and the shape of the glazing and the floor plate orientation allowed excellent day lighting features. 90% of the occupied floor area is within 7 metres of operable windows, natural light and views to the surrounding landscape.
The building has a programmable lighting control system that can automatically shut off lights if there is enough natural light in the rooms. This system saves electricity, reduces the cooling load and reduces operating costs. Planning is underway for the installation of photovoltaic arrays that ultimately will meet 100% of the building’s energy requirements. In the meantime, Evergreen purchases renewable energy certificates [RECs] from Bullfrog Power Project Performance.

Projects credits:

  • Owner  Evergreen
    Architect  Diamond Schmidt Architects Inc.
    Co-Landscape Architect  Claude Cormier + Associés
    Master Plan Coordinating Architect  du Toit Architects
    Structural Engineer  Halsall Associates
    Mechanical Engineer  Stantec Consulting
    Electrical Engineer  Stantec Consulting
    Civil Engineer  Aecom
    Commissioning Agent  HFM
    Cost Consultant  Turner & Townsend
    Code Consultant  Leber Rubes
    LEED Consultant  Halsall Associates
    Contributing Artist  Ferrucio Sardella
    Durability Consultant  Trow
    Heritage Architect  E.R.A. Architects
    Transportation Consultant  BA Consulting Group Ltd.
    General Contractor  Eastern Construction
    PhotoS  Tom Arban

Project performance:

  • - Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 494MJ/m2/year
    - Energy savings relative to model building under MNECB = 50 %
    - Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 4,307L/occupant/year
    - Potable water savings relative to model building = 60 %
    - Reclaimed and recycled materials [by value] = 23%
    - Regional materials [800km radius] = 46%

Jury comments: This is a fine example of the reclamation and remediation of a large industrial site that successfully integrates architectural and environmental concerns. The retention and reuse of a disparate collection of existing structures gives the redevelopment a rich and unique character reflective of its industrial heritage. The new Centre for Green Cities building successfully combines a variety of passive design strategies most notable
of which is the innovative approach to natural ventilation.

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