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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

My Sustainable Day-Cation in Burlington Day 2: Green Buildings

After my ride in, it was time to park my two-wheeled companion at one of City Hall’s secure bike lockers and get out to take a look at some of the Green Buildings in the community.  It seems like Green Building features are really starting to gain traction all over the GTHA, and with good reason: building a more efficient building is not only good for the environment, but it generates significant cost savings throughout the lifetime of the building as well.

Burlington has really recognized the value of promoting Green Buildings in the community, and has seen significant advancements made in the past few years, with some truly impressive projects being brought online recently within the City.

A few of the more recent developments within the City portfolio of buildings are the Tansley Woods Centre, Fire Station #8, The Burlington Centre for Performing Arts and the Appleby Ice Rink expansion.  Tansley Woods has so many great features that it can easily fill an entire post by itself, so stay tuned for a future post focusing on the Green features there, but for this post, I’d like to focus in on the Fire Station, mainly because most municipalities have at least one, and they have some unique features that present major opportunities for savings.

A shot of the Solar Panels atop the Tansley Woods Centre. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at this great complex a little bit later.

Fire Stations are unique buildings in the municipal portfolio in that many of them are occupied 24 hours a day.  This means that things like lights, temperature control and electricity are running much more than a typical municipal building, many of which are vacant at night and can have many of the energy-using features turned off.  Knowing this, it’s easy to see why fire stations pose both a significant challenge and a significant opportunity for municipalities to reduce their ecological footprint and save money while doing it.

Solar Panels generate electricity at Fire Station #8

Recognizing the value of building a fire station to Green Standards, the city of Burlington set a target of LEED Silver for their newest fire station.  By improving the insulation of the building, using a more efficient HVAC system and incorporating design features like a solar wall and a 10kW Solar PV array, the Fire Station actually ends up using 60% less energy than a comparable building designed without Green Building standards in mind.

Fire Station #8, which, despite being painted red, is really actually quite Green. So Green, in fact, that it is LEED Silver. So it's a Red building that is so Green it's Silver. Confused yet? Good.

But as I’ve pointed out before, it’s not just municipalities getting in on the Green Building trend.  As the City focused on greening their new buildings, all sorts of new developments were taking place within the community that really pushed the sustainable building envelope.  Starting in 2009, Burlington saw at least one new LEED Gold Certified building become operational each year.  In 2009 it was the Union Gas building (stay tuned for a post focusing on this great facility), in 2010 it was the ever-sustainable Mountain Equipment Co-Op (more info here) and in 2011 McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business and the Royal Botanical Gardensnew atrium both completed Gold level certification.

I always enjoy going into MEC wherever I find one, because every store is so well designed.  In addition to carrying all sorts of products that I absolutely love (I really can’t wait for camping season…), each store also features a self-guided tour to the sustainable features of the building.  The Burlington Store features some great features like occupancy and daylight sensors, high-efficiency T5 fluorescent light fixtures (which I’ve discussed previously here) and a high-efficiency, state-of-the-art heating, cooling and ventilation system.  Scattered throughout the store are little plaques that describe the features of the building,  a simple form of educational outreach that can be so powerful, and can really get people thinking about how they can reduce their own impact on the environment, and maybe save a few bucks while doing it.

MEC's impressive Burlington Store. Photo from SAB Mag Online.

So after visiting MEC, I have to say that I’m ready to spend some more time outside, and I know just the place to do it.  Tomorrow, we head to Central Park in Burlington to talk Local Food with some of Burlington’s most passionate, energetic people.  Stay tuned, it should be fun.

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9 Comments on “My Sustainable Day-Cation in Burlington Day 2: Green Buildings”

  1. Michelle April 17, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Been enjoying these posts and all the great environmental features in Burlington. Can’t wait for the rest of the week. Great examples to share.

    • cleanairpartnership April 17, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks for the comment, I’m pretty excited about the rest of the posts too!

  2. Bryan September 12, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Post very nicely written, and it contains useful facts. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing environmental features in Burlington:green buildings. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement. Thanks for sharing with us

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