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MetroTower III aims to reach new heights for green building

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by Jean Sorensen

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc. has announced that the third tower at its Burnaby MetroTower Complex will carry the highest commercial green rating possible.
MetroTower III aims to reach new heights for green building

Embracing sustainable construction practices is just good business, maintains one of Canada’s largest real estate developers, owners and building managers.

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc. has announced construction of its 25-storey, third tower at its Burnaby MetroTower Complex, which will carry the highest commercial green rating possible.

It is the U.S. Green Building Council’s first Canadian pre-certified LEED Platinum core and shell commercial building structure.

“Initially it is expensive,” said Gordon Wylie, director development at Ivanhoe Cambridge, speaking about the $170 million project that construction manager Ledcor Construction Ltd. started in August. However, cost-savings accrue over time.

“We take a long-term view of our properties,” he said, as the company is a subsidiary of a major Canadian pension fund.

Meeting the LEED Platinum standard added an extra $1.5 million to the building’s cost, but front and back-end benefits are there.

Tenants will decide their own internal fit out, but the core and shell rating will help tenants meet LEED or sustainability policies in-house.

Without any effort, other than registering their projects, tenants can achieve a LEED Silver, Commercial Interior (CI) certification, but with increased attention, there is the opportunity to earn a Gold or Platinum rating for the office.

Wylie pointed to the building’s energy conservation measures that include large windows, light sensors, heat exchangers and a conscious decision to move to renewable energy.

Such features are expected to reduce operating costs by $75,000 annually.

Architect Terrance Wong of Stantec Architecture Ltd. said the building is a bold move that demanded a challenging design able to fit into a 20-year-old master plan.

An example of this is the building’s southwest side, which is curved to maximize the daylight in a popular nearby plaza.

“We didn’t want a building that would cast a big shadow on the plaza,” he said.

Project: MetroTower III
Special significance: First Canadian LEED Platinum pre-certified core and shell commercial structure.
Construction manager: Ledcor Construction Ltd.
Developer: Ivanhoe Cambridge
Architect: Stantec Architecture Ltd.
Landscape architect: PWL Partnership Inc.
Consulting engineers: Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. - (structural)
Cobalt Engineering - (mechanical)
Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd. - (electrical)

The building’s design, utilizes windows with low-e glass by glass manufacturer Viracon. They allow 2.5 times more light into the building, but minimizes heat transfers.

Water consumption is another important design feature.

Runoff rainwater from Tower II will be collected through new piping and along with that collected from Tower III, directed into a cistern, located at the new tower’s base.

“We will use it to irrigate the landscape around Tower III and also for water for the fountain that is a water feature. It also gives us a supply of water to flush the toilets in Tower III,” Wylie said.

Using non-potable water for low-flush toilets added cost, as a second set of plumbing is required to accommodate incoming water.

But, in the long run, as water costs increase, cost savings should accrue.

The landscaping by PWL Partnership Inc., combined with the building’s on-site footprint, will attempt to keep a large number of drought-resistant plants on site.

“We are restoring a lot of the habitat. We have a green roof on site and we have landscaping extending under the office floor plate,” said Wylie.

“We are very sensitive to the environment and we have removed 22 trees from the site and these trees will be replanted on site. There will be a total of 49 trees put back – a doubling of the amount.”

The Metrotown site provides for an ideal opportunity to practice sustainability features, said Wylie.

“We are able to reduce our carbon footprint by about 35 per cent,” he said.

The area is served by rapid transit and has a bus loop near by, which reduced the need for on-site parking.

About 20 per cent of the materials being used in the building are derived from regional suppliers.

“All the lighting fixtures are coming from a local company,” he said and added that 90 per cent of waste materials during construction are being recycled and kept from the landfill.

“We are using recycled rebar and the concrete has a fly-ash content,” he said.

The structure is cast in place concrete. All the wood used in the building’s finishing is certified to ensure it comes from sustainable forests.

Wylie said that Tower I and Tower II already have showers and lock-ups for joggers and cyclers, but Tower III will have significantly larger end-of-trip facilities.

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