Modeling and consulting services to help create the greenest lab in Canada
The CanmetMATERIALS building is a 167,000 sq. ft. materials research and development centre in the McMaster Innovation Park (MIP). The facility is home to 100 staff who conduct research to drive advances in the production and use of materials derived from metals and minerals. Its labs perform functions ranging from casting and metal-forming to industrial radiography, material imaging, and computer modeling.
CanmetMATERIALS and the MIP, the developer and operator of the lab, share a strong commitment to sustainability. They set out to develop a facility that would enable advanced research while exemplifying leading-edge sustainable design practices. The goal was to use innovative approaches to make the building as sustainable as possible, and ideally to earn LEED Platinum – the highest level of LEED certification.
The building’s designers approached our sustainability team for a range of services to help them meet their ambitious green objectives; our contributions included energy modeling, LEED consulting, exhaust re-entrainment, and performance measurement and verification.
Achieving LEED Platinum certification for a large metallurgical facility with intensive energy needs demanded close collaboration across all project teams: the architects (Diamond & Schmitt), builders (Ellis Don), the owners and operators (McMaster Innovation Park), and our sustainability specialists.
RWDI played a critical role in helping the project partners shape and quantify their green objectives. We worked with the designers and builders to apply advanced tools and thinking to goals such as:
- harnessing the climate at the project site to drive down energy and water demands. For example, we helped to optimize the orientation of the building – and also supported the selection and testing of a high-performance building façade – to maximize daylight while moderating energy needs.
- fulfilling the building’s remaining energy and water needs by harnessing the sustainable-energy potential of the project site, at both the district and building level. For instance, the building is connected to a district “geofield” that provides geothermal heating, while a 700m2 solar wall preconditions ventilation air to moderate its temperature.
Other green design features included large horizontal shading on the west façade, 208 solar thermal panels, heat recovery on all exhaust air, radiant in-slab heating and cooling, and displacement ventilation.
We also performed a range of measurement and performance-verification functions to ensure that we understood exactly how the building was behaving and whether its sustainable design features were performing as intended. Developing a precise understanding of how much energy and water the building was using at different points in time – and with different activities and numbers of occupants – helped us to optimize the facility’s use of renewable resources.
In addition to providing measurement, building-performance, and green design guidance, our sustainability team played a significant role in steering the entire project through the LEED certification process.
The CanmetMATERIALS research centre earned LEED Platinum certification soon after it opened in 2011, becoming the first full research laboratory to earn the Canadian Green Building Council’s highest honour. In total, we were able to demonstrate an energy use reduction of 46% over the Canada Model National Energy Building Code. The centre has since been recognized with a number of other awards, including a Canadian Urban Institute Brownie Award (2013), an Ontario Concrete Award in the Institutional Building category (2012), and an American Institute of Architects Committee of the Environment Top Ten Award.
The facility has been operating successfully since it opened, and remains among the greenest buildings in Canada.