Oxford County opens net-zero energy Waste Management & Education Centre, showcases commitment to 100% renewable energy
Gateman-Milloy celebrated the opening of a modern new facility with its client Oxford County last week. The new building, located at 384060 Salford Rd., Salford, Ontario, was designed and built to meet aggressive energy efficiency and sustainability goals set by the County in 2015; it is anticipated the building will receive Zero Net Energy certification from the New Buildings Institute (NBI) after one year of monitoring. The building will serve as the new Waste Management & Education Centre for Oxford County. Gateman-Milloy was the construction partner on the project, working closely with Oxford County and its other partners, including Michael A. Wilson Architect (Stratford) and Zon Engineering (Cambridge), on construction execution.
“We were delighted to build this exciting project,” says Mike Milloy, President of Gateman-Milloy. “We applaud Oxford County for their leadership in making renewable energy and zero waste a reality, and for the opportunity to demonstrate our team’s sustainable construction capabilities. Our goal is to create all the best places by partnering with our clients to help them realize their visions.”
How energy efficiency drove facility design (from Oxford County)
“The new Oxford County Waste Management & Education Centre is a real-world example of how buildings can be sustainably constructed and operated,” says Peter Crockett, CAO, Oxford County. “It includes demonstrations, resources and information to educate and inspire further sustainability initiatives.”
The new, fully electric building includes a solar photovoltaic system that generates as much electricity as the building consumes on a yearly basis. By incorporating a solar energy system onsite, the annual electrical operating cost for this building is reduced to the fixed charges to remain connected to the electrical grid.
Building performance is designed to meet the 71.5 kWh/m2 requirement of the New Building Institute’s Zero Net Energy criteria. To take things one step further, it was decided that the entire site including not just the newly built facility, but the landfill itself would become a net-zero electricity consumer. Ongoing building performance monitoring will help Oxford County make sure it continues to optimize performance, and will provide valuable energy performance data that will be used to further inform future building designs.
The entire solar photovoltaic system constructed has a designed size of 120 kilowatts, with 24 kilowatts being required to net-zero the building’s energy use.
In addition to utilizing solar energy to achieve net zero, the building itself is designed with energy efficiency in mind. The visually impactful rammed earth walls are 22 inches thick and contain 8 inches of insulation with an R-value of 55. In addition to the heavily insulated walls, there is significant insulation below the floor and in the roof to minimize the amount of electric heating and cooling required.
The building also features triple-pane windows designed to reduce heat loss in the winter, and heat gain in the summer, while allowing natural daylight to reduce the amount of electricity required to power lighting. The building uses highly efficient HVAC equipment for heating and cooling, including two Energy Recovery Ventilators to recover heat energy from the building’s exhaust air and is used to heat the incoming fresh air supply from outside.
Lastly, the building was constructed with a septic system so it won’t be sending waste into the County infrastructure and uses well water so as not to draw on municipal water sources.
Gateman-Milloy worked closely with Oxford County to execute the aggressive goals for energy efficiency with the construction of this building. It was the first project for Gateman-Milloy to achieve the net-zero objective and incorporate such a comprehensive solar energy system.
The building is supported on standard concrete footing, and rammed earth walls serve as bearing walls for the wood framed ceiling. Other wood features were worked into the building’s design to give it a rustic aesthetic, including a locally sourced barn board feature wall.
The building envelope and HVAC plan was a significant factor in reaching the net-zero goal. Ninety percent of the HVAC ductwork was cast in place under the slab to help with net-zero requirements and reduce heat losses and gains. Additionally, all seams in the under-slab vapour barrier, as well as the insulation edges and all penetrations were made air tight. Wood windows were used throughout the facility, but required additional measures (sealing) to ensure air tightness. On completion of construction, the building surpassed the design target of 1.0 air changes per hour at 50 Pa (ACH50). The final value achieved was 0.87 ACH50, which is the average of both the pressurization and depressurization tests.
“This project really embodied everything that the County is looking to achieve with our long-term sustainability goals,” says Mike Amy, Supervisor of Facilities at Oxford County. “The team worked very well together to overcome the challenges of working with high-performance building technologies in order to develop a successful, leading-edge design. It was a great opportunity to learn about energy efficiency and an excellent example of how sustainability can be incorporated into the built environment.”
“This project was a fun challenge,” says Chris Campbell, Project Manager for Gateman-Milloy and lead on the Oxford County assignment. “It gave us the opportunity to showcase what Gateman-Milloy can do for clients who are looking to increase energy efficiency by using sustainable products and technologies in their construction projects.” Chris is a certified LEED green associate and has extensive experience managing projects incorporating green technology.