LEED Platinum certified senior’s residence provides high quality of life

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© krista jahnke photography

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Designing green buildings for over 20 years, sustainable design is fundamental to Ottawa-based firm CSV Architects. Designing environmentally friendly and healthy buildings for the not-for-profit and affordable housing sector is just one of the ways they put their expertise to good use. The addition to the Kings Daughters and Sons (KDS) – a senior’s residence which provides a high quality of life on a modest budget, is a prime example of this.

“Our seniors deserve to live in communities and buildings that are good for them and that can help them,” said Anthony Leaning, Principal at CSV Architects.

Central to the KDS vision was the integration of residential suites with health-related support services. In order to address the specific needs of the senior residents and to facilitate aging-in-place, a generous ground floor space was included in the design where a range of care and nursing services will be accommodated to provide additional supports for seniors. All of which would make use of environmentally friendly building materials and features for maximum energy efficiency.

To achieve this, CSV set ambitious targets for sustainable design and energy performance. With a full-time, in-house energy modeller who provides real-time, energy assist throughout each phase of a project, CSV was confident they would meet their goals. What CSV proposed was a space so efficient, it would use 25 per cent less energy, which could land them a LEED certification through Canada Green Building Council – an incredibly difficult green building standard to achieve.

“We knew that we had a reasonable chance to meet our targets given our prior experience with LEED certification, the Passive House standard, and other energy efficient affordable housing projects in the past,” said Leaning.

The company believes that exemplary LEED performance can be attained at minimal or no additional cost.

CSV accessed funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Co-investment mortgage funding which requires a combination of affordability, accessibility, and a minimum 25 per cent reduced energy use over Code.

“We had confidence that this was achievable, and indeed we met this threshold in the building design,” Leaning said.

The project also utilized the Enbridge Savings by Design incentive program which provides early energy modelling and a project team workshop. CSV has participated in this program for a number of projects and recognizes that the minimum thresholds for the incentives are met with little difficulty.

At the KDS project, the design included:

  • Exterior envelope which basically meets the minimum Code compliant assembly for insulation value.
  • Windows are standard double glazed with the most appropriate low-e coating for the climate and orientation, considering winter and summer performance.
  • Air-tightness system which achieved close to Passive House levels using standard materials, best practice detailing and installation – with the performance verified during construction using blower door testing before the cladding was installed, and at completion.
  • The HVAC system used available conventional equipment in a design that complies with Code requirements for heat recovery, and minimum direct ventilation rates.
  • Living rooms and bedrooms were supplied with ASHRAE compliant fresh air while return air was exhausted from bathrooms and kitchen area.
  • Recirculating range hoods and heat recovery on exhaust air were used. Heating was provided using a 2-pipe fancoil system, with terminals in each suite that rejected heat for cooling back into the 2-pipe loop.

A commissioning agent was retained at the start of the project and provided a high level of quality control on the results at a very modest cost.

Not only can sustainable design be achieved at little additional cost, green design is also good for organizations and companies. Reducing waste is not only good for the environment, it’s economical and can have a direct impact on the bottom line.

“The project demonstrates that superior environmental performance doesn’t have to be expensive,” said Leaning. “What is needed is a commitment to sustainable design and more care in the design and construction process,” Leaning concluded. “We consider this additional effort to be worthwhile and it has contributed to CSV’s reputation in the industry as leaders in sustainable design.”

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