2012 SAB Awards Winning Project - Karis Place - More Than A Roof, Vancouver


Karis Place is a partnership between More Than A Roof Housing Society, BC Housing, and the City of Vancouver. It provides rental housing as part of the Provincial Homelessness Initiative, which focuses on providing safe, secure and supportive housing in response to the current homelessness crisis in Vancouver.

Glazing is Sunguard superneutral 68 on clear by Guardian Industries . The building addresses the street with a generous canopy and glazed entrance. The project uses CRL-U.S. Aluminum 2200 Curtain Wall System which offers reduced sightline for low to mid-rise projects and complements insulating glass efficiency with thermally improved interlocked thermal spacers.

The project is located in the city’s Downtown South District. Restrictive zoning governed the form and height of the building which consists of a five- and six- storey podium with an 11-storey tower above. The ground floor is given over to extensive amenity space with the remainder of the building accommodating 106 single residential units.

In addition to representing a welcome commitment to social sustainability on the part of two levels of government, this project was also mandated to achieve a LEED Gold standard of environmental performance - including a minimum of four energy credits and a maximum of 10% of end use energy from fossil fuels.

With a limited social housing budget, it was clear early on in the design process that the design and the sustainability measures had to be simple and practical as possible to provide the non-profit operator with a low-maintenance building.

The design team established the sustainability strategies through a series of integrated workshops, extensive energy modelling, and costing exercises. This process resulted in, among other things, an envelope design that breaks with the current practice for Vancouver residential buildings of a fully glazed envelope.

Instead, Karis place has only 37% glazing on its exterior walls, the remainder being clad in a thermally-broken, brick veneer rainscreen behind which is continuous exterior insulation. Despite smaller areas of glazing, all suites have ample daylight, and lighting power density is reduced in accordance with ASHRAE 90.1 2007.

Among the energy conservation strategies employed were: ground-source heat pumps, heat recovery ventilation, in-suite in-floor radiant heating and solar shading on the south and west facades. As a result of these and other measures, eight energy credits were obtained and, with only back-up heat requiring natural gas, the building uses no fossil fuels during normal operations.

Life cycle issues were important to the client and BC Housing has the long-term lease on the land for 60 years. The interiors of the building were constructed with lightweight steel framing and the units were deliberately built larger than the minimum to facilitate possible changes in use over time.

Projects credits:

  • Architect  Neale Staniszkis Doll Adams Architects
    Structural Engineer  Fast + Epp Structural Engineers
    mechanical Engineer  MMM Group [Mechanical]
    Electrical Engineer  MMM Group [Electrical]
    Sustainability  Recollective
    Building Envelope  Exp. Services Inc.
    Commissioning Agent  KD Engineering
    Lanscape Architect  Pery + Associates
    General contractor  VanMar Constructors Inc.
    Photos  Derek Lepper

Project performance:

  • - Energy intensity [building and process energy]  = 340MJ/m2/year
    - Energy savings relative to MNECB  = 52%
    - Potable [municipal] water consumption = 20,988 litres/occupant/year
    - Local materials [800km radius] by value = 20.5%
    - Recycled material content by value = 16.5%

Jury comment: A difficult program and a modest budget made the pursuit of meaningful sustainability goals particularly challenging in this project for the hard-to-house. The solution successfully integrates the architecture with the environmental performance ambitions through careful envelope design and a variety of passive strategies. As such it provides an example, not just to other publicly-funded housing projects, but to market condominium
developments as well.

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