2014 AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory, Hamilton

An exceptional project that combines high performance and rigorous planning with interesting, well lit and beautifully detailed interior spaces. These types of buildings generally have high energy intensity, which makes the achievements of this project even harder to ignore.

Natural Resources Canada chose to relocate its CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory from Ottawa to Hamilton to be closer to the steel and manufacturing sectors it serves through metallurgical research and testing. LEED Platinum certified, this new project raises the bar for industrial buildings in Canada.

Fundamental to passive strategies for energy reduction is a high-performance thermal envelope for walls, foundations, roof and triple glazing. Orientation of the long axis on the south and north side offers more readily harvested daylight and thermal control through specific solar shading and glazing selections.

Daylight and occupancy sensors automatically phase lighting and blinds to reduce electrical energy use. The glazing and solar shading strategy at the perimeter drives light deep into the space with the use of light-transmitting glass while customized solar shading reduces glare.

The guiding principle to the mechanical, electrical and renewable systems are maximized energy efficiency and reduction of energy waste. The vast roof allowed for extensive renewable source installations, including 209 solar thermal collectors to harvest heat.
Thermal energy, collected in solar tanks within the penthouse, is used for radiant and domestic water heating. Collectively the tanks have 180,000 litres of hot water storage capacity, which equates to three days heating for the building. Any excess thermal energy is discharged to a 152 m deep, 80-borehole, ground source system.

The building is charged with 100% fresh ventilation air, which is decoupled from the heating and cooling system to harness further efficiencies. Utilizing a displacement ventilation strategy, air is delivered through access floors or low-level diffusers. Ventilation pre-heat is provided by a solar wall which is able to increase incoming air by 16°C on a typical day in January. Set at an angle of 52°C to optimize collector efficiency, the solar wall doubles as a roof for the penthouse space. Tracking of actual performance ensures the building continues to act as a “Living Lab” for the entire design and construction industry.

Owner McMaster Innovation Park
CANMET Material Technology Laboratory, NRCAN
Diamond and Schmitt Architects
Structural Engineer
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
Integral Group [Cobalt Engineering]
LEED Consultant
Integral Group [Cobalt Engineering]
Building Envelope
Commissioning Agent
Civil Engineer
AJ Clarke And Associates  
General Contractor
Landscape architect
GSP Group


Concrete and masonry construction with radiant heating and cooling piping buried in the ceiling slabs; high-performance insulating glass, zinc and cement composite siding. A solarwall heats incoming fresh air, solar thermal roof collectors heat water for radiant systems supplemented by geothermal. Bamboo flooring by Smith & Fong Co. supplied by Taproot Distribution , polished concrete floors.

Energy Intensity [building and process energy] = 289 kWh/m2

Energy Cost Savings Relative to reference building under MNECB = 79%

Regional Materials [800 km radius] by value = 44%

Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 30%

Construction waste diversion = 84%

Potable water consumption [in-building + irrigation] = 876L/occupant/year

In building potable water use reduction = 87%

Irrigation potable water use reduction = 100%

This article was published in SABMag issue31

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