Our Head Office is a continuation of MEC's efforts to enhance the social and environmental aspects of its buildings.
Through inventive design features, MEC staff is encouraged to feel part of a larger community. Open spaces, meeting places, and connection with people and nature are emphasized. The building consumes a lot of natural light but otherwise is a low-impact consumer.
Very little is hidden; finishing materials are minimized to reduce embodied energy and remind us always of the mechanisms we build to provide us with comfort. The building is a collection of old, new, unconventional, and funky. It's a calm place, easy to live in. Above all, it shows a careful balancing of the needs of staff, members, and nature.
There is a secure bike room, and shower facilities to encourage green commuting by staff. And ample meeting rooms reduce the need for travel to off-site meetings.
Our staff kitchens stock organic fair trade coffee which uses no pesticides and supports fair trade for coffee producing regions. And the used grounds and filters can be thrown into our on-site composting programme as we strive to reduce our solid waste consumption.
Adaptive reuse of a structure provides the greatest conservation of embodied energy, and keeps the maximum amount of material out of the landfills. So we decided to convert an old auto parts warehouse into an office space.
We salvaged the stair handrail, slat wall, doors, exit signs, fire alarm bells, fire pull-stations, fluorescent light fixtures, sprinkler system, and Venetian blinds from the existing building. While the paging system, telephones, dishwashers and refrigerators were reconditioned and transferred from our old Head Office.
In an effort to divert potential waste from the landfill we also employed used lumber for rough carpentry and bike room walls; reconditioned workstation dividers with 100% recycled fabric; and refurbished some 1950s and 60s vintage chairs and lamps for use as resource area furniture.
The reception floor is built of tongue and groove fir, salvaged from the roof of a demolished warehouse. Farmed maple highlights in the stairway raises awareness of ecologically and socio-economically sustainable harvesting methods.
Exposed concrete floors, ductwork, cable trays, and ceiling reduce the use of interior finishing materials. While clear galvanised corrugated metal siding and clear anodised aluminum provide a durable exterior finish and reflect light away.
We locally sourced our light reflectors, fluorescent fixtures, and furniture to reduce the embodied energy and pollution in transport of materials, and where possible, the drywall contains recycled content.
Our air conditioning system is designed to a higher set point during the cooling months so that mechanical cooling loads are cut by almost 50%. And CFC-free refrigerant was used in the system to reduce pollution and produce minimal greenhouse gas emissions with 0% ozone depletion.
The argon gas filled double-paned windows have low emissivity coatings so, along with the high performance glazing employed in the skylights, they minimize heating and cooling loads by reducing winter heat loss and summer solar gain.
The need for artificial lighting was reduced, even on overcast days, by new windows and skylights that were punched into the exterior of the building, complimented by light reflectors that bounce daylight deep into the building core. However, where artificial light is needed, bare aluminum fluorescent light fixtures are fitted with daylight sensors to reduce energy consumption. And the washroom lighting is controlled by occupancy sensors.
When constructing this building, we wanted to reduce the release and circulation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the primary cause of sick building syndrome, so we used water based glues, low VOC paints, formaldehyde-free medite (MDF) millwork, wool carpeting, and natural ventilation through operable windows.
When designing the landscaping around the building, we increased the urban green area and used native plants which require less water and pesticides, and only require irrigation in drought conditions.
We provide filtered drinking water for our staff and our low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce our overall water consumption.