Landmark West Memorial Building in Ottawa is being spruced up and made green in capital efficiency initiative

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Carla Qualtrough, minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, said on June 28 that the National Capital Commission (NCC) has approved concept designs for improvements to Ottawa’s West Memorial Building, a landmark building in the Parliamentary area.

The move means the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) can go ahead with detailed designs, as well as construction on the project.

Improvements to the West Memorial Building are to be made on the visitor entry area, landscaping, and outdoor lighting of the building, and include features that will make the building more energy efficient like increased insulation, triple-glazed windows, and high-efficiency heating, cooling, and lighting options.  

Other features that improve the quality of life for workers and visitors include more daylight access through skylights and windows, and water bottle filling stations both inside and outside the building. The building will also have improved accessibility.

Outdoors, the addition of trees, bicycle parking, and electric vehicle charging stations complete the greening process.

The West Memorial Building has been vacant since 2008 because of health and safety concerns related to the building’s overall poor condition. Demolition work began in 2017, as workers removed hazardous materials and replaced the flat roof, along with protecting heritage finishes.

The historic building will decrease emissions by 55 per cent and increase efficiency by 45 per cent as a result of the changes, resulting in a rating of four Green Globes rating for federal buildings. The Green Globes rating system focuses on key areas like water consumption and decreased energy use. It’s established through the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization committed to speeding up the greening process for buildings.

Government operations are being assessed for sustainability across the board as part of Canada’s commitment under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Supreme Court of Canada building will see its own rehabilitation in years to come. Between the two buildings, the project is estimated to cost more than $1 billion.

The West Memorial Building is part of Canada’s primary Second World War memorial. It occupies an entire city block in Ottawa’s downtown. Construction was completed on the building in 1958, and was designed by Toronto architectural firm Allward and Gouinlock.

“Our government is incorporating greening measures while preserving the historical significance of the building,” said Qualtrough in a press release. She said the changes will also bring Ottawa closer to its goal of being the greenest capital in the world.

EllisDon Corporation was awarded a construction management contract through a competitive procurement process, while design and architectural services were awarded to Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning.

Construction on the West Memorial Building is scheduled to begin in the fall.

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