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Setting the Sustainability Standard

A major renovation of a 1950s federal building targets a sustainabilty grand slam  


An Elevated Design

The AMBR project brings two buildings together into one new cohesive space. The existing structures are representative of a federal building typology and preserving this visual symbol of leadership with a modern interpretation was a priority in the design. A glazed diagonal gracing the front elevation serves multiple purposes – on the exterior it’s a nod to the two buildings that came before, while on the interior it creates a large, double-height, light-filled environment that encourages active use of a feature stair and collaboration in the ample open spaces.

A Government of Canada Flagship Model

As part of its Sustainable Design Strategy, the Government of Canada has selected the Arthur Meighen Building as the flagship model to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a carbon neutral building portfolio by 2030. "This project embodies our commitment to improving how we manage energy performance of federal buildings. Through this and other initiatives across government, we are taking steps to reduce our footprint and green our buildings”, says Steven MacKinnon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

A Deep-Energy Retrofit

As Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) began to examine its aging building stock, a feasibility study determined the current building’s greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by more than 80% through deep-energy retrofits to the building envelope and systems. The 10-storey building dating from the 1950s, located in Toronto, Ontario, will undergo a major renovation to achieve the carbon neutral targets and provide the building tenants with a modern workplace environment through the Government of Canada Workplace Fit-up Standards. When complete, the building will serve as the Ontario region’s main Government of Canada building. DIALOG is lead consultant for this major capital project, and will provide architecture, interior design, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering, and sustainability consulting; with additional services provided by subconsultants. Together, the team will perform extensive base building upgrades including new mechanical, electrical, life safety systems, seismic upgrades, a new roof and improved building envelope – all leading to carbon neutral building performance.

A Zero Carbon Building Pilot Project

The Arthur Meighen Building has been selected by the CaGBC as a pilot project in its new Zero Carbon Building initiative. A zero carbon building produces, or procures, carbon-free renewable energy in an amount sufficient to offset the annual carbon emissions associated with its operations. This certification evaluates energy use within a building and is awarded to projects achieving a zero-carbon balance after twelve months of operations. As part of the pilot program, and one of only 16 selected to participate, the project team will receive guidance from the CaGBC to meet the Zero Carbon Building Standard. Significantly, CaGBC’s program recognizes the challenges of achieving sustainability targets in existing building retrofits. The Arthur Meighen building will achieve this through geothermal heating and photo-voltaic panels.

Aligning with DIALOG’s Own 2030 Commitment

In September of 2017 DIALOG officially joined a growing global community of like-minded firms who are taking action against climate change by signing on to The American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment. The AIA 2030 Commitment is a framework that provides signatory firms with the resources and tools they need to help measure and report on their progress towards answering the 2030 Challenge–a visionary initiative with the aim of offsetting some of the effects of climate change by achieving carbon neutrality in the built environment by the year 2030. At DIALOG, we are passionate about design. We believe it can, and should, meaningfully improve the wellbeing of communities and the environment we all share. To follow through on that promise, DIALOG, in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), has developed a methodology and corresponding set of indicators and metrics to design for community wellbeing. The Community Wellbeing Framework is a tool for designers, and project stakeholders to systematically address wellbeing along a variety of project types and scales.

Project facts

Size: 41,085 sq m
Owner: PSPC
Client: Brookfield Global Integrated Services
DIALOG Services: Architecture, Interior Design, Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Sustainability
Collaborators: RDH, Building Envelope; LRI, Life Safety and Building Code; LEA Consulting Ltd., Civil Engineering
Construction Manager: Urbacon