Green giant

Rising 49 storeys, here's what makes Eighth Avenue Place a LEED Platinum hit

If all goes as planned, the 49-storey Eighth Avenue Place in downtown Calgary will soon become the first LEED Platinum (Core & Shell) high-rise office tower in Canada.

It's one thing to become LEED-short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified. But reaching the highest level, Platinum, is much more difficult in the internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of a high-performance green building.

So what does it take to reach such a high level of sustainability? Here's a look.


"The glass curtain wall system is a huge part of the overall energy efficiency of this building," says Brenda Morawa, president and principal of BVM Engineering Inc. in Atlanta.

"The whole objective is trying to find that sweet spot among having glass that gives you access to not just the daylight but the full views from floor to ceiling, being able to mitigate the heating load from outside to inside with that glass, and then the cost."

The solution is a unitized curtain wall system with dual-pane glass that has solar screening coatings. Within this system, the interior and exterior aluminum mullions are thermally separated to prevent heat transfer. The mullion system was custom-designed and fabricated for the building.

"It is a fully thermally separated system," explains Avi Tesciuba, vice-president of Hines Interests Limited Partnership, the company developing the project, from his office in Toronto. With very little air coming in through the curtain wall, baseboard heating wasn't required around the perimeter of the building.

"You have glass all the way to the floor," Tesciuba says. "You can literally walk up all the way to the glass and use all of that space."

Heating and cooling the perimeter space can now be done using the same overhead air delivery system used to for interior spaces instead of installing a second system.


Another important aspect of energy efficiency is reducing the amount of outside air brought into the building. Again, it's about the sweet spot, the perfect balance between providing high-quality air to breathe and not having cold air to heat.

"We are doing a combination of different things to optimize the amount of outside air and then very efficiently heat that outside air to reduce the operating costs," Morawa says. One of the most innovative aspects is that the building management and control system monitors the CO2 level in the building and the carbon monoxide level in the parking garage. When levels go higher than desired, air is brought in just until the level reaches the right point.

The system also monitors temperature and lighting. It will make automatic adjustments to ensure air quality and operators can make adjustments from a computer, in the building or remotely.


"A green roof is one of the features that impacts the most credit categories," Morawa says. First, green roofs mitigate the heat island effect in summer, absorbing heat so that it's not absorbed into the building. Second, they retain and treat stormwater and reduce the amount of water discharged into the municipal stormwater system. They also provide habitat for creatures like birds, bugs and butterflies.

The garden atop Eighth Avenue Place is thought to be the largest in Canada at 30,000 square feet.


Managing new construction waste is one thing. Managing demolition waste is another. But even with demolition, those involved in building Eighth Avenue Place were able to divert approximately 80 per cent of waste from the landfill.

"It's easier to achieve a higher diversion percentage when you're demolishing a building the way that they demolished the old Penny Lane [shopping centre] complex," says Kim Rishel, manager of Sustainable Building Services, Western Canada, for EllisDon Construction Services Inc. EllisDon is the project manager.

Murray Demolition of Quantum Murray LP performed the demolition, dismantling the old complex instead of just knocking it over. Everything was examined to see if it could be reused or recycled. For example, the ceiling tiles were sent to Armstrong World Industries, which runs a recycling program and uses old ceiling tile in some of its new products.


Sustainable building practices are common in the today's industry. The LEED program promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:

  • Sustainable site development
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials selection
  • Indoor environmental quality

Rishel credits the effort exhibited by Hines, BVM Engineering, the design team and consultants, EllisDon and the subtrades for the sustainability of Eighth Avenue Place.

"Its that collaborative, integrated design process where you have everybody working together all the time," she says.

Designed by Pickard Chilton Architects, Inc., Eighth Avenue Place will feature a two-storey retail podium spanning a full city block. It will also have an atrium winter garden and a 1,143-car, below-grade parking garage. Construction began in December 2007 and should be completed this summer. Future plans include construction of another tower.

For Hines, protecting the environment is actually a secondary goal. Eighth Avenue Place has been built for the people who will occupy it.

"We look at what's important to the tenants and then design around that," says Tesciuba, pointing out things like lots of natural light, great views, high-quality air and thermal comfort. "If we do the things that matter to the tenants, then we end up getting the points that the Green Building Council has on their list."

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