Capital Park - 525 Superior
Certifications & Awards
- CaGBC LEED Platinum (targeting)
- Tenant: Province of British Columbia
- Developer: Jawl Properties Ltd.
- Sustainability consultant: Integral Group
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Jon Floyd, Jawl Properties & Kevin Welsh, Integral Group
525 Superior St is a 5-level concrete and steel building that is part of the Capital Park complex, a multi-phase development directly across from the provincial parliament buildings in Victoria, British Columbia which will include 2 commercial office buildings and 4 residential buildings, along with commercial retail and historical building restorations. Sharing a parkade with both the residential and retail complex at 355 Menzies and an additional office building at 545 Superior, it provides office space for the provincial government with a total leased area of 10,896 m2. This building is targeting Platinum certification in the Canadian Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standard.
Green Building Highlighted Features
- Shared parkade with other buildings in the complex
- Proximity to public transit, facilities to encourage carpooling, and electric vehicles
- Dedicated bicycle parking area in parkade with shower facilities and lockers for bicycle commuters, as well as proximity to bike lanes
- Landscaping makes use of drought-resistant native plant species and is optimized for stormwater management
- A stormwater reuse cistern captures stormwater and provides a source of non-potable water for flushing and 100% of irrigation water
- Green roof vegetation reduces stormwater runoff, and heat island effect
- Energy savings through efficient envelope and a shared heating and cooling system between both office buildings with ongoing monitoring of energy usage
- Efficient HVAC system featuring a radiant ceiling heating and cooling system
The building is centrally located in downtown Victoria directly behind the provincial parliament buildings. Housing offices for over 700 employees of the government of British Columbia. In addition to the many restaurants and stores within walking distance of the area, the complex includes a branch of the Victoria Public Library, and a grocery store as part of the 355 Menzies building attached to 525 Superior.
Between the complex’s two office buildings at 525 and 545 Superior St. is a large plaza which acts as a public space where people living or working in the neighbourhood can come to meet, enjoy lunch or a coffee, and simply enjoy the outdoor environment.
The plaza includes a retail pavilion which features a Good Earth Coffeehouse. This public space is designed with 3 distinct water features and a variety of seating arrangements which make use of long-lasting materials that require minimum upkeep and offer a significant lifespan in an outdoor environment, including IPE hardwood, and COR-TEN steel which is designed to seal itself in a thin layer of rust, much in the same way that steel used in bridges does.
The site previously housed surface parking, and a collection of buildings that were built in the early fifties. These buildings were referred to internally as the “temp buildings”, and had greatly exceeded their lifespan. In the 1990s the city established set of stipulations based on public engagement for future development of the property in a document called the Victoria Accord. The accord called for a mixed-use site with “people-oriented” streets, public amenities, and clear views of the legislature. The developers of the site, Jawl Properties Ltd., and Concert Properties are committed to meeting and surpassing the requirements of the accord.
An interesting aspect of the site were the five heritage houses which were each over 100 years old. The houses were relocated within the James Bay neighbourhood and renovated, with three of the houses being converted into multi-suite rental units, and two being sold in their new locations.
A key goal in both construction and site selection was to provide a wide selection of sustainable transportation options.
The site is well-served by public transit with several bus routes passing directly in front of the building on Superior street, as well as the multi-bay Legislature Terminus across the block. Those who work in the building are also served by the extensive network of bike lanes in downtown Victoria. A segregated bike lane running along Superior street in front of the building was also part of the development.
To encourage cycling, the parkade has a secure room with a large capacity for secure bicycle parking. There is also a bike fixing station located within the room, which includes tools to make small repairs or adjustments to bicycles, or to pump air into tires. The bike room is also connected to locker rooms, each with several showers so people can freshen up after their commutes.
Many of the best-located parking spots in the parkade are set aside for those who carpool to work, providing an incentive for people to reduce their usage of single-occupancy vehicles. There are also electric vehicle charging stations available, and conduit was pre-laid to provide additional capacity for more charging stations as electrical vehicles increase in popularity.
The landscaping around the building is designed to limit the amount of water required to keep the plants healthy. Species were selected to be native and drought-tolerant, reflecting the west-coast environment that the building is located within, while being beautiful to look at throughout the seasons.
Further water efficiencies are gained through a rainwater reuse system. This includes the installation of 2 large cisterns located at the parkade level with access via large submarine-like hatches. The combined capacity of these cisterns is 1,437,000 litres of water. This water provides 100% of the on-site irrigation, in addition to non-potable water uses, such as flushing-water for toilets and urinals. This reduces the water demand on the city’s infrastructure. The cisterns are shared with 545 Superior St.
Additional reductions in water use, far beyond what is in a typical office building is achieved through the use of low-flow fixtures.
Stormwater runoff is also reduced by the extensive use of vegetation on the rooftop. The green roof plantings are fed by purple piping which indicates that any water needed for irrigation is coming from captured stormwater. However, when it is raining the plants are also able to capture much of the stormwater directly. All of the remaining stormwater that is not captured by the cisterns is filtered/treated before discharge into the city stormwater system to enhance downstream water quality.
Materials and Resources
The outside of the building is clad in terracotta with a gray zinc accent. There are bands of red, and this accent colour connects the building to the red brick which is ubiquitous in this historic neighbourhood. The interior of the building features natural finishes, including wood, steel and a tile that looks like stone, to reflect the materials of the west coast.
The building contains a significant amount of glass. This not only provides clear views, but also introduces a significant amount of daylight into the building which reduces the need for additional lighting.
The rooftop of the building makes use of a high-reflective roof surface. This is referred to as a high-albedo roof surface, which means that less sunlight is directly absorbed by the building. Not only does this reduce the energy required to cool the building, but it means that the building contributes less to the urban heat island effect, which is when cities have higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas due to darker surfaces absorbing more solar energy in the form of heat.
During construction the contractor and sub-trades were engaged with to carefully manage the diversion of construction waste, as well as judiciously controlling erosion and sediment on the building site. Materials selected for the building were balanced to receive at least 20% recycled content.
Since the extensive use of glass on the building exterior provides as much light to the interior, the level of lighting is greatly reduced which provides significant energy savings.
The two commercial buildings in the Capital Park development are able to achieve further energy savings by sharing a number of mechanical and electrical elements for efficiency. The rooftop penthouse on top of 525 Superior St. contains condensing gas boilers, heating and cooling water storage tanks and air to water heat pumps which provide the primary heating and cooling for both 525 and 545 Superior St.
The domestic hot water is produced by 98%-efficient condensing gas boilers which provide a reduction in the amount of natural gas used to heat the domestic water used inside the building.
In order to ensure that the energy efficiency of the building was continuously optimized, the owner implemented an ongoing monitoring of energy and water usage throughout the building. This includes collection of data showing the energy usage per tenant.
While the project does not include photovoltaic cells on the rooftop, extra capacity was included in conduit to the rooftop in anticipation of this being an option in the future.
Indoor Environmental Quality
When walking into the building visitors pass over a Pedigrid system. This nearly 2 inch thick architectural grid system is specially designed to lightly scrape shoes and trap dirt, water, mud, and snow in the recesses below, reducing the amount of contaminants that can enter the building.
The building envelope provides a great reduction of noise from the busy street outside, and this is immediately apparent once inside the Atrium. The building uses a heat recovery ventilator, (HRV), to provide 100% fresh air to the space, meaning that none of the air in the bulding is recirculated. The air is filtered through MERV 13 filters, which remove exterior particulate matter, such as dust and pollen before it can affect the indoor environment. Low volatile organic compound (VOC) emitting materials were selected and installed throughout the building, to further ensure air quality.
The heating in the main lobby is provided by an in-floor radiant heating system. This is done through a network of pipes which were installed in the floor during construction. The rest of the building uses a radiant heating and cooling ceiling panel system. Rather than heating or cooling circulating air, radiant heating provides direct heat in the same way that sunlight or a campfire would. This is a very efficient method of heating or cooling, and provides an additional level of comfort. This building is the first full deployment of a functional radiant heating and cooling ceiling panel system in western Canada.