Vancouver Convention Centre offers more than a green roof

The foyer of the new Vancouver Convention Centre benefits greatly from daylight, one of many energy-efficient features in the building.

The green roof, billed as the largest in Canada, tends to steal the show. But the new Vancouver Convention Centre is much more than a big building with a fancy hat.

With the help of BC Hydro's High Performance Building Program, the facility – which debuted last weekend with a wildly popular open house – will save a total of 2.2 million kWh of energy a year over conventional designs.

That's the equivalent of providing electricity to 220 homes for a full year.

Energy-saving measures include:

  • upgraded roof insulation;
  • variable speed drives on pumps, so they don't run at 100% when they don't need to;
  • high efficiency lighting;
  • premium efficiency transformers;
  • daylight sensors applied on all perimeter spaces;
  • heat-recovery chillers, recovering waste heat that provides significant steam energy savings;
  • demand-control ventilation, where spaces are ventilated only when they are occupied.

To determine which energy saving technologies would make the most sense for the Convention Centre, BC Hydro worked with consultants to take the building through a number of modeling exercises. The backbone of the High Performance Building Program, modeling takes the facility in the early planning stage through various scenarios that look for the maximized energy savings in heating, cooling and lighting and compares the results to the costs of investing in energy efficient technologies.

"Modeling tells you how the system works as a whole," says Bojan Andjelkovic, a specialist engineer with BC Hydro who works on a team that currently has 25 High Performance Building Program projects on the go, many including high-profile facilities throughout the province.

"The only way you can design a high performance building is to go through stringent modeling programs. It shows you how doing something like increasing the shading on the building by adding trees can have an impact on many other parts of the system."

The High Performance Building Program is the only program in the province that offers financial incentives, resources and technical assistance to help developers of new commercial, institutional and multi-residential building projects build in energy efficiency where it can make the most difference: from the ground up.

"The biggest benefit of the modeling process is that it helps the customer make educated decisions from concept to design stage. This is an important stage to get involved because everything is still fluid," adds Bojan.

The Convention Centre first sought BC Hydro's energy-saving expertise three years ago when it began to develop the facility's design.

"Nothing beats having energy efficiency built-in from the outset," says Dave Walker, the Convention Centre's project manager. "It's a lot less expensive than having to redesign your whole project later because you suddenly realize you should have done it in the first place."

The media's home for 2010

Next February, people around the world will get a close look at the Centre's new space when it serves as the International Broadcast Centre for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. This is expected to be the building's peak use period, and to help with the reliability of power supply, the building has fully redundant backup circuits.

About that green roof

The largest green roof in Canada, and the largest non-industrial living roof in all of North America, stands as the most innovative feature of the new Convention Centre. The roof covers six acres and is landscaped with more than 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses from the Gulf Islands.

Designed to provide natural bird, insect and small mammal habitat, the roof acts as an insulator and is expected to reduce the roof's summer heat gains and winter heat losses.

The building was designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects and is on track to qualify for LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Canada Gold certification.

Source: BC Hydro News