Ecology Action Centre Office Renovation

This deep energy retrofit of the Ecology Action Centre office centered around several core themes:

  • improve energy efficiency and occupant comfort
  • increase the amount of group meeting and individual office spaces
  • reinforce strong urban connections with it’s neighbourhood

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the design process consisted of an intensive collaboration between Solterre Design, our consultant team and builders and the Ecology Action Centre HQ Expansion Committee. Solterre’s team held a series of Integrated Design Process (IDP) sessions and throughout the schematic design phase developed a “Green Decision-Making Matrix” to identify primary green priorities.

To create a more welcoming, dramatic and accessible street presence, the western half of the main floor was lowered 42” to sidewalk level. Twelve foot ceilings, large triple-glazed windows and an open plan define this new ground level.  Included in this space is the reception and a 300 square foot community gallery and board room.  Accessed via a half-flight of stairs and inclined chair lift, the upper eastern half of the main floor houses a copy centre, bathroom, kitchen and administration offices.  The existing kitchen has been modified to improve the gathering function for staff while also accommodating a catering function for community gallery and activities. The intent of this renovation is to create a street level forum for the Ecology Action Centre and it’s community.

Minimal changes to the existing second floor and a new third level yielded 50% more office space with the building expanding to 4500 sf in total (not including basement storage and mechanical spaces). New breakout and meeting rooms allow for greater flexibility for project teams. A new stairwell acts as a means of vertical egress, while also being a light filled place for staff to connect and interact on a daily basis.

Exterior walls (R-35) are wrapped in 3” of exterior semi-rigid mineral wool and a new airtight weather barrier improving energy efficiency as well as occupant comfort. A highly permeability wall assembly was designed to maximize long-term durability; we wanted to ensure the wall didn’t trap moisture between the new exterior package and the two inches of existing impermeable rigid foam insulation on the inboard side of existing wall.  A minimum of two feet of insulation was added to the roof (R-75) and insulated steel door cutouts were diverted from the waste stream and used as sub-slab insulation (R-28). In all, the energy model has projected that the renovated three-storey building will use less energy than the existing two-storey structure.