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Green Building in Toronto

MEC began operations in Toronto in 1985. We moved to our present location on King Street in 1998. The 42,000 square foot facility was built using 55% recycled materials, including wood recovered from Montreal's Marconi building, and from the bottom of the Ottawa River.

Toronto Store. Photo: Amamda Dhalla

The building is an important milestone in our Green Building Program, as we moved from a traditional building framework to a less energy-intensive approach. With the lessons learned here, we've made many of our other buildings more environmentally friendly.

Material

Clay brick, concrete block, and Owen Sound natural stone facings are locally sourced to reduce energy consumption for transportation. Long service life also decreases waste.

Reclaimed timber in the entry and skylight assemblies was recovered from buildings and log booms. To divert waste from landfills, the concrete contains 50% blast furnace slag, a by-product of steel manufacturing. It also requires 75% less energy to produce than conventional cement. The wallboard too is made of waste that would otherwise be landfilled: it's Desulphogypsum (DSG), a by-product of coal-fired thermo-electric power stations.

Building walls and roof are insulated with Rockwool, made from fibres spun from melted minerals and bonded with various binders. This particular Rockwool has 50% recycled content and provides insulation above the Model National Energy Code standard.

Maple flooring is sourced from a supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, using ecologically and socio-economically sustainable harvesting methods.

We like the look of natural materials, so the wood and concrete floors are exposed. Minimal floor and ceiling coverings reduce material consumption. Where carpet is used, it is sectionally replaceable tile, placed without adhesive. Where we use paints, finishes, and adhesives they have low or no volatile orgainic compounds.

Energy

A roof garden is planted with indigenous meadow plants, flowers, and grasses that don't require frequent watering. The plants offset C02 generation, and the soil helps insulate the building to reduce heating requirements.

A 1kW photo-voltaic electrical generation system is installed on the site, although it is not a significant power source, it raises awareness of renewable energy.

Skylights run the length of the building. This reduces the need for energy-consuming artificial lighting. Energy efficient windows are double glazed. A microscopic metallic coating on the glass surface between the panes reduces radiant heat transfer, saving energy in air conditioning.

Energy consumption is minimized through the use of natural ventilation. To optimize airflow, clerestory windows are electronically operated. In common areas, of course, the staff can open the nearby windows.

Energy efficient windows are double glazed. A microscopic metallic coating on the glass surface between the panes reduces radiant heat transfer, saving energy in air conditioning.

Fluorescent lighting uses electronic dimming ballasts. They are controlled by photocell sensors that increase or decrease light depending on the amount of natural light available. EXIT signs are lit with high-efficiency LEDs, and occupancy sensors control lighting in washrooms and offices.

Covered bike parking encourages the use of bikes for trips to MEC.

The building is overall 35% more energy efficient than required under the Model National Energy Code.

Water

Water consumption is reduced through low-flow, pressure-assisted toilets and faucets.

Planters on the second story terrace contain hardy shrubs, and are watered with an efficient subsurface drip system.

Planting of street trees increases urban green areas and captures water to reduce demand on urban infrastructures.