Green IS the new black, how we’re working on it.

A very detailed post on what is going to make the Deep Bay Field Station so “Green”  Taken together it’s a pretty impressive list.  But the key really is the integrated approach to design so that the building is more than the sum of its parts. The other key part is making all these features accessible for education and leadership and doable for other projects.  Coastal sustainability is key to maintaining quality of life on Vancouver Island and this project is intended to be a significant resource for VIU’s mission to provide support and leadership.

Skunk Cabbage

Read on for much more

Background on our Sustainability Mission

The VIU Deep Bay Field Station, currently under construction, has been designed utilizing the latest “state of shelf” technologies in energy conservation as a green facility with anticipated LEED® Platinum accreditation.  This flagship, public facility will host and engage audiences on a range of sustainability issues and will provide an ideal platform, and special opportunity, to advance and enhance green energy design, and energy conservation to audiences in the mid-island and beyond.

The Deep Bay Field Station is currently being constructed on a 3 ha waterfront lot in Baynes Sound on Vancouver Island – the heart of the BC shellfish industry.  The facility itself will be architecturally unique, embracing and integrating green energy design, reflective of the unique physical location and of the shellfish industry.  McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd., who designed the first platinum LEED® certified building in Canada, has been engaged on this project and has designed a building with special purpose venues that can accommodate the simultaneous delivery of multiple shellfish and coastal ecology related programs.

To ensure that BC’s coastal citizens derive the greatest benefit from our energy and conservation projects, our engagement programs emphasize public involvement and effective communications.  Our model of bringing together several communities of practice – academics, engineers, industry- together with First Nations and other rural coastal communities is unique in BC and has proven to be most effective. This project will showcase and promote, energy efficiency and conservation technologies suitable for rural communities.

VIU’s new Environment & Sustainability Manager, Michele Patterson has been out to tour the Deep Bay site twice now, and she has commented that:

“The Deep Bay Field Station building is an example of the kind of social and environmental innovation that showcases Vancouver Island University’s deep commitment to sustainability.  The field station will help to advance knowledge, understanding and research at VIU, and also support sustainable regional economies.  VIU’s Environment & Sustainability Office, (based on the Nanaimo Campus), was launched in January 2010.  Our mandate is to reduce VIU’s environmental footprint, and to work closely with the communities we serve in supporting initiatives that improve human and natural wellbeing.  I look forward to working closely with the Deep Bay team in the future.”

The following describes the principles and details that are going into the design and construction of this project.

Existing Sustainable Design Principles

Principles established to guide the project have been established and include:

  • Demonstrate best practices to raise public awareness of issues affecting coastal environmental health
  • Protect the foreshore from negative impacts from human activity
  • Protect and enhance riparian and species-at-risk habitat
  • Protect and respect archaeological resources from development impact
  • All planting to be indigenous species only
  • Utilize natural resources of the site: Sun, Wind, Rain, Ocean
  • Restore damaged ecosystems resulting from previous land tenure
  • Safeguard the quality of ground, surface and marine water.

Existing Site Master Plan and Site Infrastructure

The site master plan has been developed in direct response to these principles, and features a deeply integrated approach to the challenges of the steeply sloping site. Design strategies include:

  • Restoration of riparian and fisheries habitat in damaged (by previous owner) r areas in conjunction with local community groups
  • Replanting the site with indigenous plants to establish and/or repair the many ecosystems found on site
  • Sand and peat from building excavation activities are being mixed with chipped wood waste from construction  to create topsoil onsite  for landscaping and native species replanting
  • Local, natural products are incorporated in construction plans such as the crushed oyster shell parking lot instead of non-porous paving materials
  • Development of a complex integrated strategy to meet the challenges of the water cycle for domestic, waste, storm, and fire suppression through rain water harvesting and storage.
  • Domestic Water: The aquifer underlying the site will be used for domestic (potable) water.
  • On-site tertiary treatment of all water used on site.  The tertiary biological treatment area will reduce the BOD, TSS and TN concentration to less than 10mg/L.  The tertiary filtration and UV disinfection area will reduce colloidal material followed by UV disinfection to reduce fecal coliform bacteria to non-detected levels.  The use of constructed wetlands will provide further polishing of effluent prior to release.
  • Reduction of water use through recycling -use and rainwater harvesting  Rain water will be harnessed and stored for use in low flow water conserving faucets and dual flush toilets thus minimizing the potable water used in the sanitary waste system.
  • Integrated storm water management including the creation of ponds and manufactured wetlands
  • An implementation strategy which includes the incorporation of VIU student input into the project where appropriate, training experiences and on going interpretative functions
  • Reduction and recycling off all waste materials from construction where possible.

Building Passive Design Features

  • Natural ventilation –  the building is designed  to take advantage of natural ventilation, Mechanical ventilation heat will be recovered through a rotary heat exchanger.
  • Daylighting: the building’s occupied spaces are designed to be naturally lit, not requiring artificial lighting during daylight hours.
  • Engineered wall assembly to minimize thermal heat loss.
  • The building structure has been designed to utilize common grades of lumber and innovative composite beams as a structural deck system for the floor and roof assemblies. Wood has a much lower embodied energy content that steel.
  • Sanitary Treatment: the on-site tertiary treatment is designed to set standards for local treatment of waste in coastal areas with critical requirements on clean seawater to support shellfish resources.  This will involve tertiary on-site treatment as well as final polishing wetland.
  • Water Recycling: Rainwater water will be collect and stored in a reservoir tank mounted at the upper end of the site. This system will charge a gravity powered fire suppression system (sprinklers)
  • Limiting use of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) during construction

Wood First

  • The building design embraces a wood first policy.  Notable components are 1) structural fir laminated beams have been used  for  the building skeleton,; 2) a solid wood sub-floor consists of a high percentage of pine beetle wood in solid wood slab construction, 3) interior  finishes are largely Douglas fir, 4) Building Sheathing includes cedar panelling.

Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Clean Energy Systems

  • Energy Performance Model developed
  • Heat Recovery: a central air system will recover much of the energy in exhaust air and systems designed to recover heat from mechanical equipment and drain water will contribute to the low energy consumption
  • Geo-Exchange Ocean Heating – A heat exchanger and heat pump system will be employed to extract heat energy from seawater pumped ashore for research activities to heat the building and supplement domestic hot water
  • Wood fired biomass boiler as geothermal heat backup system using onsite wood.
  • Hydronic radiant heat distribution coupled with displacement ventilation
  • High efficiency lighting to reduce lighting loads
  • Smart sensors monitor occupancy and daylighting to operate energy systems
  • Building Commissioning: The building will be fully commissioned by an independent commissioner to insure operating efficiency

Quantitative estimate on greenhouse gas emissions

During the design development process an energy analysis was conducted to determine the predicted energy efficiency.  A reference building based on the requirements of Natural Resources Canada’s (former) Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP) was used to compare to various design options.  The final design anticipates that GHG emissions are estimated to be 54.6 tonnes/year, a 15.5 tonnes/year (22%) reduction compared to the baseline building design (70.1 tonnes/year).  The current building design is expected to provide a decrease in annual electricity use by 44 MWh/year ($2700 annually, a reduction of more than 75%).

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