NOVA SCOTIA POWER HEADQUARTERS - Halifax, NS

JURY COMMENT - The transformation of a coal-fired power station on the Halifax harbour to a commercial building employing 600 people made for a compelling story of environmental,
economic and social sustainability. These broad ambitions were reinforced with impressive energy performance, good use of natural light and an innovative envelope upgrade. The project acknowledges its industrial past in the scale and character of the atrium space, and offers public access to the waterfront where none existed before.

The Nova Scotia Power [NSP] Corporate Headquarters occupies a decommissioned generating plant in a prominent location in downtown Halifax, with significant frontage on the public board-walk that lines the western edge of Halifax harbour. The project involved the retention and adaptive reuse of the former generating plant for the headquarters of the provincial electrical utility. The facility houses over 600 staff in approximately 14,600 gross square metres and provides parking for 150 cars.
The project used an innovative construction strategy that involved the reuse of the existing steel structure and exterior concrete cladding where possible, in conjunction with the insertion of floors within the existing volume. Originally designed to support coal bins and turbines, the existing structure and foundations were robust enough to support the new floors.
The project has achived LEED Platinum certification, providing an example of sustainability and design and construction innovation for the provincial and national building industry.
NSP’s ambitions for the project were broadly based, falling generally into four:
Environmental: It was the desire of NSP, as the provincial power authority, to have a visible demonstration of its commitment to environmental responsibility and show leadership in energy conservation through the adaptive re-use of a former generating station.  Elements such as the original steel structure on the interior and chimney bases converted to skylights retain a memory of the original building and its former use.
Economic : Financial analysis demonstrated that renovation of an existing owned building was the optimal solution to meet future space requirements. It provided the lowest life cycle costs when compared to both renting existing, or building new corporate office space.
Civic: This redevelopment of an urban brownfield site demonstrates civic responsibility on behalf of the corporation. An example of urban intensification, it minimized incremental costs of infrastructure improvements.
Social: Relocating but retaining employment within the city, the NSP headquarters supports both the economic and social fabric of downtown Halifax. Materials used were sourced from companies in the region whenever possible in order to support the local economy.
The original building was a large concrete mass that formed a barrier to the waterfront. A portion of the existing structure was demolished in order to introduce an atrium, which connects the city to the harbour.
The project addresses the utility’s desire to be a more accessible organization engaged with the community that it serves; transparent entries on both the boardwalk and Lower Water Street levels welcome the public into the facility. The building design locates animated uses, such as the conference centre, atrium, and café with outdoor seating area, facing the boardwalk.
The building represents the first major use of “chilled beam” technology in Atlantic Canada. The system utilizes [low energy sea] water rather than air to transport cooling thereby lowering energy consumption. Additional energy saving strategies include energy recovery on HVAC, variable speed drives, a tight building envelope, and daylight and occupancy sensors for lighting.

PROJECT CREDITS

  • Owner/developer NSPI - Nova Scotia Power Inc.
    Architect
    WZMH Architects
    Associate Architect
    Fowler Bauld and Mitchell Ltd.
    Structural Engineer
    BMR Structural Engineering
    Mechanical/electrical Engineer
    M&R Engineering Limited
    Civil Engineer
    Terrain Group Inc.
    Landscape Architect  Gordon
    Ratcliffe Landscape Architects
    Interiors
    Figure3 - Interior Design
    General Contracto r
    Aecon Atlantic Group
    Commissioning Agent
    CFMS Consulting Inc.
    LEED Consultant
    Enermodal Engineering
    Photos
    Greg Richardson], WZMH Architects, and Tom Arban

PROJECT PERFORMANCE

  • Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 100KWh/m2/year
    Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB
    = 48%
    Lighting power density
    = 28.3 kWh/m2
    Lighting power density relative to model building under MNECB
    = 45%
    Potable water consumption from municipal sources
    = 2,625L/occupant/year
    Potable water reduction relative to reference building
    = 24%
    Reclaimed and recycled materials [new construction] by value
    = 30%
    Regional materials [800km radius] by value
    = 28%
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