Government building achieves LEED gold

PWGSC's Douglas Jung tower promotes sustainable operations
Friday, October 11, 2013
By Iain MacFadyen

Public Works and Government Services Canada’s (PWGSC) Douglas Jung Building recently achieved a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating in the category of Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EB:O&M). This marks the first LEED EB:O&M certification for the federal department.

The Douglas Jung Building is a 19-storey office tower located at 401 Burrard St. in downtown Vancouver. Built in 2001, it is in close proximity to all major public transportation routes and the popular Port of Vancouver waterfront. The building is a multi-tenant office with underground parking, ample bicycle storage and a small cafe. Occupants can enjoy extracurricular activities such as yoga, meditation, fit camp and circuit classes that are provided by volunteers on their own time.

PWGSC collaborated with the building’s two major tenants – the Department of Fisheries and Environment Canada – to attain the LEED status. Through a number of workshops, the team was able to engage building tenants in various sustainable initiatives, including waste diversion of 75 per cent and diverting all electronics, batteries and furniture items from landfill.

LEED EB:O&M requires significant buy-in from management, operations and tenants. Achieving LEED gold is no easy feat and highlights the level of commitment to environmental performance from all involved.

The service provider for the Douglas Jung Building, SNC-Lavalin Operations & Maintenance, ensures the building runs as efficiently as possible. The office tower has achieved an Energy Star rating of 93, which indicates the building is more energy-efficient than 93 per cent of its peers in North America. In addition, water savings of more than 25 per cent were achieved with low-cost upgrades to faucets, cutting the consumption by 75 per cent. SNC-Lavalin has implemented a comprehensive commissioning program to further improve the building’s energy performance.

Some of the green features of the building include:

  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures;
  • Eighty per cent of new equipment purchased is Energy Star certified;
  • Reduced mercury in lamps;
  • A green housekeeping program;
  • Sustainable purchasing policies in place for facility alterations; and
  • The building exterior and hardscape program uses eco-friendly products and techniques.

There is an extensive program to encourage staff to use alternative modes of transport. The location of the site means there are a number of public transport options. There are also incentives to encourage staff to use alternatives to single occupancy vehicles. The programs have resulted in more than 96 per cent of employees using alternative modes of transport.

The key to the success of a LEED EB:O&M project is effective tenant engagement. One of the most important elements to attaining sustainability objectives is to explain the systems and targets to occupants, and communicate how the specific programs will benefit them. This communication helps make the implementation process go smoothly and allows for tenant input, not only making the programs and policies specific to the building but ensuring buy-in from tenants. Whether it’s through setting up a green team in the building or existing communication channels, successful projects bring tenant groups to the table early, seek their feedback and allow their input in the decision-making process.

A motivated site team is key to pursing and obtaining LEED EB:O&M certification. It is important that the team is not only committed to the effort but is also excited to work on the project. Keys to motivating a team include a high commitment level from senior management, tenant willingness to participate and an explanation of how the process will improve building operations. A team that is motivated and passionate about sustainability is more likely to develop innovative strategies, streamline documentation efforts and maintain new programs.

Iain MacFadyen is manager of buildings sustainability services for MMM Group in Vancouver. MMM Group is an industry-leading Canadian program management, planning, engineering and geomatics firm. The company was the LEED consultant on the Douglas Jung Building.

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