270 Albert St. reduces energy by 25%, earns Canada’s first LEED v4 title
November 7, 2016 - The commercial building at 270 Albert St. in Ottawa, Ont. is being celebrated for its high degree of energy efficiency. After reducing its energy use by 25%, it has been recognized as Canada’s first project to be LEED v4 certified (the latest LEED green building program).
By Renée Francoeur
Asset and property managed by Blackwood Partners, 270 Albert St. is a 14-storey, 164,000-sf office tower that had previously undergone several major retrofits since the building was constructed in 1975.
It was replacing the chillers that made the biggest difference when it came to cutting energy costs, said Merv Cundell, property manager of 270 Albert with Blackwood Partners Corp.
“We went from the 350-ton chillers to four smart chillers, which are very highly-efficient,” he said. “That enabled us to downsize the size of our condenser pump and our chilled water pump. The condenser pump was 75 horsepower and we brought that down to 25 and the chilled water went from 40 to 25 horsepower and there are variable speed drives added, too.”
Cundell added they were able to downsize the condenser pump as well because they put a new cooling tower in, replacing the natural draft one before that was “like an antique”.
“That was a huge savings just on those pumps alone. I saw it in my electrical bills right away,” Cundell said.
New chillers also meant less floor fan runtime as the building was able to cool quicker. This was a hidden savings Blackwood didn’t even originally calculate, Cundell noted.
“Before on a hot July day, we’d have to start the system up at 2 am. Now we can start it up at 6 and we can reach where we want to be in an hour or less. It’s really quite amazing.”
Blackwood also switched the domestic water pumps to variable speed domestic water pumps for more savings and retrofitted all lights to LEDs, going from 32W fluorescent bulbs to 25W bulbs.
Additionally, 10-minute timers in all washrooms and motion sensors on the two basements levels help keep the lights off.
“We talked about putting in an automated system for the floor lighting but we have guards 24/7 so they turn the lights off when the cleaners leave and back on in the morning,” Cundell explained. “They do floor rounds so if they find them on, they just flick them off. Works better than the sensors really and less maintenance this way.”
The first thing Blackwood did when it took over the building in 2008 was look at how to up the energy efficiency and put it in the capital plan, Cundell said. And they’re not done yet. He couldn’t share any specifics but said they would be working on even more tightened energy use upgrades in the near future.
Overall, the operations team at 270 Albert reduced energy use by 25%… and this was even after an energy audit in 2013 found the multi-tenant building already operating efficiency, according to the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). The latest upgrades resulted in an energy use intensity of 20 ekWh/sf and an Energy Star score that placed the building in the 91st percentile amongst its peers.
Crediting its close partnership with LEED consultants WSP Canada, Blackwood Partners also said the entire project—from initial planning to performance verification and documentation—was completed in just over one year.