Chapelview affordable housing project in Brampton, Ont. is making history as it becomes the first LEED Canada Platinum affordable housing building, and one of only about a 15 LEED NC Platinum buildings in the country. Through the initiative of the Region of Peel, Martinway Contracting, and Enermodal Engineering, Chapelview is expected to achieve 50 per cent energy savings and 46 per cent indoor water savings compared with a conventional multi-unit residential building. Chapelview, designed by HCA Architecture Inc., consists of six levels of underground municipal and residential parking and 15-stories (200 apartment units) of housing targeted for people with disabilities and low-income seniors and singles.
“This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a group of individuals really taking the initiative to meet a lofty, but attainable goal that results in the best possible building for the environment, community, and individuals living there,” says Steve Kemp, Division Head, Energy Performance Group, Enermodal Engineering.
Rewarding Synergies: Affordable Housing and Sustainable Design
Enermodal is finding many rewarding synergies between green building design and the affordable housing sector. The developers of affordable housing are committed to maximizing occupant comfort, indoor air quality, and building durability, while minimizing utility costs-and these interests coincide with good green building design.
While there is an incremental cost increase for LEED buildings, this cost is offset in two to 15 years by decreased utility costs. Affordable housing developers, who pay utility bills, can certainly reap the benefits of lower electricity and water use as affordable housing projects are designed to last over 30 years.
Although planning for the $40 million project began in 2003, it was in 2006 that Martinway’s John D’Angelo became familiar with LEED and offered (to the Region of Peel (Peel Living) and the City of Brampton) to make Chapelview a LEED certified building at no additional cost. In fact, D’Angelo’s intent was not just to achieve LEED certification but to aim for the highest level. “The benefits are not just from a sustainability perspective but also for the thousands of individuals who will experience the highest quality of life who otherwise would not even have a place to rest their heads at night,” says D’Angelo.
Fundraising for the incremental cost of going green was undertaken as part of Martinway’s pre-existing Corporate Sponsorship Program where corporations and trades donate products, discounts, or resources to affordable housing projects. Once the project’s LEED Platinum goal was set, D’Angelo began to receive additional unsolicited calls from new corporations wanting to be involved with Chapelview.
“We hope the tenants will see the work that was put into giving them the highest standard of living and, as a result, will encourage them to have respect for the building and take care of it,” he says.
Every suite at Chapelview has an independent ventilation system, which, combined with an airtight building envelope, proper levels of insulation, and weather stripped suite doors ensure the very best air quality for residents. The transfer of air and odours between units is minimized by this superior ventilation system. The ventilation system evacuates stale air and replaces it with fresh air.
The suite ventilation system’s fan runs continuously, ensuring fresh air is brought into the suite and distributed to each space through duct work. Stale air is exhausted from the kitchen and bathroom. By turning on the bathroom light, or turning on the kitchen range hood, the speed at which fresh air is brought in and stale air is removed is increased.
When residents require higher levels of ventilation, each suite has operable windows.
Here Comes the Sun
Suite window size was based on balancing the need for sufficient daylight with the need to minimize energy loss (heat in winter and cool in summer). The windows are double-glazed, low-e, and argon-filled with insulated spacers. The aluminum frames incorporate very large thermal breaks that reduce both heat loss and the potential for condensation. Although the window selection resulted in higher costs, it is offset by decreased utility costs as a result of minimal heat loss through windows.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in most furniture and interior fit-up materials, and have been proven to be harmful to the environment and occupants. Urea-formaldehyde is commonly found in wood products, and is considered a toxic substance. The design requirement of having no added urea-formaldehyde in composite wood and agrifibre products (e.g., cabinetry, particleboard) helps to reduce the exposure of VOCs to occupants.
At Chapelview, all paints, coatings, and glues used inside the building contain very low levels of VOCs compared with conventional materials. This decreases health concerns for the construction team who apply these materials, as well as for building occupants. In addition, green housecleaning products are included with each resident’s move-in package. Green cleaning products are phosphorous-free to reduce negative impacts on local waterways and resident health.
Smart Water Use
One of the easiest, but most effective, ways to reduce water use in buildings is to use low-flow fixtures for faucets, toilets, and showerheads. The front-load laundry washers also saves water. Particular attention was paid to the showers on this project. Aerated showerheads use a small hole to introduce air into the water spray, increasing the velocity and decreasing water supply required.
The Material Point
Every material used in the construction of Chapelview was selected with an eye to environmental impact. High-quality (and long-lasting), recycled materials were used: all wood in the building is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, doors are made from a wheat-based product, spray-foam insulation is made from soya and recycled plastic bottle. Further materials include, 100 per cent recycled drywall, and recycled carpet was specified.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an organization certifying wood that comes from forests that are maintained and harvested according to the highest standard of environmental stewardship; therefore, all wood used in the suite cabinetry at Chapelview is FSC certified.
Shared, Green Amenities
Hallway lighting is controlled by occupancy sensors to save energy. Half of the lighting turns off when no one is the hallway for an extended period of time; once someone enters the hallway, all lights will turn on.
A tri-sorter waste disposal is provided in the building. A chute on every floor can be operated to change the path of materials to waste, recycling, or organics. This innovative receptacle reduces the amount of recyclable or compostable material sent to the landfill.
All Chapelview landscaping uses only native plant species, and this includes the green roof on the twelfth floor. The green roof reduces the stress on the city’s stormwater system by absorbing some of the rainwater that falls on the roof, water which would otherwise end up in the stormwater system. The green roof also increases green space and this helps to reduce the urban heat island effect.