Two very big buildings made of glass one just received a LEED Platinum designation and labelled the most energy efficient building in America (adjacent photo) and the other is becoming fodder for cynical engineers worldwide; building scientist Ted Kesik called it "architectural pornography" – so why the hypocrisy since they’re both made of glass?
We’ve not seen the energy reports on the Aqua Tower (AQT) (we may never see them) but the published results for the Manitoba Hydro building (MHB) are stated here, “The building's target was for a 60 per cent reduction in energy consumption compared to the Canadian Model National Energy Code for Buildings. The goal was to attain LEED Gold certification. It proved to be even more efficient than anticipated, achieving reductions in energy use of over 70 per cent. In May 2012, Manitoba Hydro Place received LEED® Platinum certification, making it the most energy efficient office tower in North America and the only office tower in Canada to receive this prestigious rating.”
So what`s the difference? In the case of MHB it hired indoor climate and energy engineers TransSolar to evaluate the energy and indoor environmental quality of numerous models before the integrated design team selected the one offering the best opportunity to meet the client’s objectives of an energy efficient indoor climate. This process took years of preconstruction planning (started in 2002) ultimately resulting in the double façade building (think a building within a building) having opening windows on all of its office tower floors, conditioned with low temperature radiant heating and high temperature radiant cooling; ventilated with a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) with heat recovery - boosted by inline fans in the under floor displacement air system and augment by the solar chimney for pulling draft on the entire structure. The HVAC and domestic plant is a geothermal system powered by hydro and assisted with peaking natural gas boilers. What is so great about this building is the attention given to the mechanical and electrical system and how the architecture flows around it to enable its peak performance – it’s truly ingenious and inspiring and a huge credit to the architectural and engineering teams.
On the other hand, “The Aqua was named the Emporis Skyscraper Award 2009 skyscraper of the year and was shortlisted in 2010 for the biannual International Highrise Award”, perhaps a result of the architectural focus that left the mechanical and electrical engineering teams the responsibility of making the building work – this classic approach is repeatedly demonstrated as being flawed in a world concerned about sustainability.
As we have said over and over again in this journal and in industry publications – first let the engineers and interior designers create the DNA for the building and then use architecture to enable these systems to operate at peak performance.
This inverted process is the DNA of our upcoming cross Canada Tour hosted by Uponor – who by the way supplied the radiant heating and cooling system for the LEED Platinum Manitoba Hydro Building and the radiant heating and cooling system for the LEED Platinum NREL Research Facility and many other high performance buildings.
You’ll not want to miss this course – it will change how you do buildings.
Sign up soon for our five city Canadian Tour hosted by the Uponor Academy:
Sept. 17-19 Edmonton, AB
Oct. 29-31 Halifax, NS
Nov. 19-21 Vancouver, BC
Nov. 26-28 Toronto, ON
Dec. 3-5 Montreal, QC
If you want to know more about this course call us at 403.278.8481