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Spring 2008 Vol. VI, No. 3

Randa Khalil: Platinum Green LEED in British Columbia

Platinum Green LEED in British Columbia

Randa Khalil (BE '81): Khalil's electrical engineering company, RFA Consulting, has just earned Canada's first ever Platinum Green Building Rating for the energy efficient Gulf Islands Operating Center in British Columbia. This is the highest awarded rating by Canada's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design).

Team
Architects: Larry McFarland Architects, Architect Ron Kato
Structural: CW Engineering, John Percival. P. Eng
Electrical: RFA Consulting Electrical Engineers, Randa Khalil, P. Eng
Mechanical: KEEN Engineering, Willy Perez, P. Eng


Buildings are responsible for almost one-third of Canada's annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, closely paralleling energy use. Buildings account for 70 percent of the nation's electricity use(1).

Most buildings in Canada rely heavily on non-renewable sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, propane and nuclear power. Power plants cause other environmental and health problems, including acid rain, smog, and mercury poisoning in lakes and rivers. We can reduce these hazards by curbing energy use through sustainable building technologies, such as solar power generation, and efficient design.

One of the primary goals in the design of the facility was to minimize energy consumption. With its energy-efficient design, The GINPR Operations Centre uses over 75% percent less energy than the Model National Energy Code Reference building.



Building Interior

Geothermal Heating
Ocean


Most building energy is used for water heating, space heating and space cooling. Heat pumps are called "heat pumps" because they move heat from one place to another.

Even cold water contains a great deal of heat; Ever been inside a cave in the summer? The air underground is a constant, cooler temperature than the air outside.

That's the principle behind the geothermal heat pump.


In the winter, it moves the heat from the ocean water into the building while in the summer, it pulls the heat from the building and discharges it back into the ocean.



Titanium Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger concentrates the ocean's energy and releases it inside the building at a higher temperature. The geothermal heat pump doesn't create heat by burning fuel, like a furnace. Instead, in winter it collects the Ocean's natural heat through a series of pipes submersed in the Tsehum harbor.



Titanium Heat Exchanger

Energy Performance

Operating energy is a significant measure of sustainability which enables straightforward comparisons between alternative building technologies. Buildings consume energy for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, equipment and appliances.

Commissioning

This building systems are fully commissioned to ensure that the buildings' complex mechanical systems operate as intended with the highest possible efficiency.

Photo Voltaic Panels

About 20 percent of the building's electricity is generated by a photovoltaic system. This system is connected to the BC Hydro grid, our local electric utility infrastructure. When the building's electricity consumption is low, a net-metering system is in effect. The system provides an average of 35 kW hrs per day, the equivalent of 58 laptops operating continuously for 8 hours.



Lighting

The building is strategically designed to dramatically reduce artificial lighting demand. Natural light reaches every work stations through windows on both sides of the building and on its roof.
Daylight sensors dim hallway lights when sufficient daylight is present, and occupancy sensors turn office lights off when rooms become vacant. The efficient fluorescent office fixtures, suspended from the ceilings, project light up and down, allowing a much greater percentage of the light to be utilized than a typical light system.

Heating and Cooling


Breakdown of typical commercial end use energy
© Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada


Most building energy is used for water heating, space heating and space cooling.

Extracting Heat from Ocean Water

The only heat source for the building is the ocean. Ocean water is piped to heat pumps located in the Operations centre's mechanical room, which extract heat from the water. That heat is then transferred through a titanium plate heat exchanger to the building heating system and to a domestic hot water tank.



Diagram of the GINPR operations centre geothermal heat extraction system

Radiant Heating/Cooling System

A system of plastic pipes embedded in the concrete floors is used to distribute heat around the building. This radiant heating/ cooling system greatly reduces energy consumption.

Exterior Sunshades

Exterior sunshades have been installed over south facing windows to limit the amount of direct sunshine which can penetrate windows. This prevents the building interior from overheating in the summer months.

Building Envelope Performance

The building envelope and cladding system is specifically designed to minimize heat loss.