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Bosa goes big on energy efficiency with Burnaby tower

Image of the SOLO district retail hub
Jim Bosa not only expects his company's SOLO District in Burnaby to be a great place to live and work. He expects it to hit standards of energy efficiency that will prove to others the value of working closely with BC Hydro on energy modeling and product incentives.

BC Hydro New Construction program helps deliver plan for significant savings

It runs in the family. Nat Bosa, founder of Bosa Development, has been a central figure in the creation of BC Hydro New Construction Program paves the way to Vancouver's singular look and feel through such projects as Citygate at the east end of False Creek and Portico at South Granville.

Now, son Jim Bosa's company, Appia Development, is transforming a major corner in Burnaby into a hub of residential, office and commercial activity – all of it built to the highest standards of energy efficiency.

While always interested in sustainability, Bosa has never before specifically targeted energy efficiency as a goal in his developments. But for SOLO District, located at the southwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Willingdon, engineering firm Integral Group recommended he look at what could be accomplished by incorporating energy-saving measures from the ground up.

Image of an office space in the Stratus tower

Expected savings to be equivalent of powering 105 single-family homes a year

"Integral told me about BC Hydro's New Construction Program and explained the process, and how Hydro would pay the costs for Integral to do an energy-modeling study," says Bosa. "And they would then be able to give me an estimate ahead of time of the possible energy savings we could achieve with specific energy-saving measures. And the savings were really, really good."

Stratus is a 45-storey mostly residential tower, with one floor of commercial space at the base that  houses Whole Foods. For Phase 1 of SOLO District project,  the energy-modeling study predicts energy savings of just over 1.16 million kilowatt hours per year over a similar building without the same energy-saving measures.

That's enough to power more than 105 B.C. single-family homes for a year. It's also enough, predicts Bosa, to convince a lot of people that they should come to SOLO District.

"Especially for the bigger office tenants, energy efficiency is key," says Bosa. "Government, for example, is required to look for offices that reach the equivalent of at least LEED Gold. And many others, like engineering firms, want that level of sustainability and the lower operating costs they get with good energy efficiency as do many residential owners and tenants today.

"If I want additional marketability, if I want to compete, I've got to be ahead of the curve."

Image from the Sky Villa in the Stratus Tower

Energy modeling study identified big savings via variable refrigerant flow system  

Energy saving measures built into Stratus Phase 1 include:

  • Increased roof and wall insulation
  • High-efficiency window glazing
  • Interior and exterior lighting controls
  • A variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system.

While variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems have been used in Europe and Asia for years – half of all medium-size buildings in Japan currently use VRF systems – they are relatively new here. This kind of system can modulate the output of an outdoor HVAC unit and share heat between multiple heating and cooling zones by transferring wasted heat from indoor units in cooling mode to spaces requiring heating.

"For the right project, a VRF system can provide the ultimate in energy conservation," says BC Hydro Specialist Engineer Bojan Andjelkovic. "The energy-modeling study showed that the VRF alone will help Stratus save over one million kilowatt hours of energy over a year over a conventional HVAC system."

According to Andjelkovic, "energy modeling is the best way to find out what systems are the best match for any new building. Modeling programs can run whole-year detailed simulations to show how a particular building will perform at different times of day and night, and in different climates. You can see what happens if you change a building's orientation, shape, mass, envelope, or if you use different building systems and energy sources."

Image from outside the solo building during development

'It's really exciting to see what you can do today'

For Bosa, the modeling study was certainly an eye-opener.

"The engineers pulled out elements I wouldn't have thought of," he says. "I thought I knew quite a bit about how to save energy, but they found more savings than I would ever have on my own. They showed me the dollars and cents results.

"I've recommended the New Construction Program to other developers. I've told them, you need energy efficiency for marketability, so you might as well take advantage of the incentives BC Hydro offers to do an energy study and install the energy-saving measures. It reduces the pain from having to make the extra investment in those measures. Plus it's just really exciting to see what you can do today."

Find out more about energy modeling and incentives for energy-efficiency measures on our New Construction Program pages, or call 1 866 522 4713.