Enermodal Engineering, based in Kitchener with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, was recently named one of Canada’s 50 Greenest Employers, and also named to the Top 35 Employers for New Canadians, by the Top 100 Employers program (the full list of winners is available at http://www.canadastop100.com/environmental/).
“As a consulting firm that only works on sustainable buildings, demonstrating that we have a green workplace is increasingly important to current and potential employees and our clients,” says Stephen Carpenter, president of Enermodal Engineering. One of the elements that set Enermodal apart from the competition was the fact that the company’s green initiatives are employee drive. Enermodal has an Employee Sustainability Committee made up of volunteers from every division of the company. The committee meets once a month and proposes corporate green initiatives to management. These initiatives range include the employee lifestyle incentives – such as $1,500 to $3,000 towards the purchase of a hybrid vehicle or free bus passes and low-flow shower heads.
Some of the other contributors to the award were the fact that Enermodal has certified five times more LEED Canada buildings than any other firm, pledged to go carbon neutral as a Gold pledging partner with the non-profit Sustainable Waterloo, and works in four LEED Platinum offices.
One of them, their new LEED Platinum-candidate Kitchener headquarters, called A Grander View, received the Environmental Achievement award from the Grand Valley Construction Association at the GVCA awards gala on April 23.
“The Grand Valley Construction Association members work on a huge number of interesting projects every year, so to be recognized in what we consider one of the most important categories – Environmental Achievement – is great news,” says Carpenter.
A Grander View is applying for three LEED Platinum certifications: New Construction, Commercial Interiors, and Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. The building uses 82 per cent less energy than a conventional office, and projected total building energy use is 65 kWh/m2 of floor area compared with the Canadian average of 400 kWh/m2.
Wildlife habitat will be enhanced through landscaping composed entirely of plants native to the region. Employees are encouraged to appreciate the out-of-doors through a third-floor terrace and gazebo on the riverbank, as well as adjacent garden plots. And Enermodal is working with the City to extend the Walter Bean Grand River Trail through the property.
Ventilation air is delivered separately from heating and cooling functions (a departure from typical designs) to ensure occupants receive excellent indoor air quality without over- or under-heating. Another energy-saver is the ICF (insulated concrete form) construction technology Enermodal selected, in which the building walls are a “sandwich” of concrete and insulation (the insulation replaces traditional wooden forms). The result is an airtight and well-insulated building.
Lighting is often the largest energy operating cost in office buildings. In the Enermodal office, vacancy sensors will automatically turn off lights when a room is not in use, while daylighting sensors will automatically close exterior blinds to decrease glare and cooling loads. The building features a central atrium topped by photovoltaic (PV) cells that will generate electricity. Also, a narrow building footprint (only 12 metres across) will maximize natural daylight and minimize electricity use. The minimal amount of energy Enermodal’s office will consume is to be supplied by green power, while offsets will be purchased to cover employee transportation – making Enermodal’s operations truly carbon neutral.
Office designers paid particular attention to selecting building components that reduce resource consumption—the amount of raw materials used to build the office. The building will be clad with stone salvaged from a demolished church. Other resource-wise materials include recycled paint, countertops of recycled paper, and slag (a by-product of steel manufacturing) as a replacement for energy-intensive cement.
The other winner of a GVCA Environmental Achievement award was Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc.’s LEED Gold candidate headquarters in Cambridge – a project for which Enermodal served as LEED consultant, energy efficiency engineer, and building commissioning agent. A complete list of winners can be found at http://dcnonl.com/article/id38592.