In late 2013, the Factor Four Team worked at understanding the best way to proceed with improving the energy performance of NE1, the last piece of the Factor Four puzzle.
NE1 has been described by many interviewees as “not an ideal building” (air quality, space layout, energy consumption, etc.). To improve the situation, should BCIT keep the building and proceed with a renovation project? Or should BCIT replace NE1 with a new building? What energy performance level would be needed to support the Factor Four initiative?
Problem and/or Opportunity
Based on the selected bundle of energy conservation measures identified (refer to the Factor Four Energy Plan) for all other Factor Four buildings (other than NE1, i.e. NE2 to NE8), NE1 would have to perform at approximately 70 kWh/m2 per year (0.25 GJ/m2 per year) or a total 1,400,000 kWh (5,000 GJ) per year to meet the Factor Four energy reduction target of 75% reduction. It currently performs at 240 to 270 kWh/m2. However, these energy numbers reflect the reality that NE01 is not a comfortable building. If operated to meet the ASHRAE 62.1 and 55 standards for air quality and thermal comfort, the “real” energy consumption is estimated at 345 kWh/m2 per year.
To be certified Passivhaus, a commercial building has to consume annually 120 kWh/m2 or less of primary energy, which in BC is slightly less than 70 kWh/m2 per year. In other words, if NE1 was to perform to the Passivhaus standard, the School of Construction and the Environment (SoCE) could deliver most of its trades and technology programs (i.e.: the ones located in buildings NE1 to NE8) on 25% of its historical energy consumption. SoCE would be operating at Factor Four at the North end of the Burnaby campus!
Because of embodied energy, the Factor Four approach typically gives priority to adapting the existing infrastructure rather than building new. NE1 has recently been surveyed for seismic risk and for deferred maintenance value. The reports show that it would be more economical to demolish NE1 and build from scratch. Such decision is well documented in BCIT’s 2014-2018 capital plan and the Factor Four RPHD report.
So what would be the implications for BCIT if the Institute was to commit to building the new version of NE1 to the Passivhaus standard?
As a first step towards one day maybe getting a new passive NE1, the Factor Four team asked Chris Lum (BCIT student enrolled in the SEMAC program) to conduct a study to identify priority actions and recommendations to further develop the business case for the Passivhaus standard. In his report entitled “Building to the Passivhaus Standard for New Construction Institutional buildings”, Chris looked at:
- What is a Passivhaus building and why pursue the standard?
- What are the implications of committing to building a Passivhaus building at BCIT while meeting the LEED Gold requirement for all new construction and major renovation projects at BCIT?
- Are there real-world examples that can be used for comparison and evaluation?
A summary of the recommendations generated from this study are as follows.
1. BCIT could consider replacing NE1 with a LEED GOLD certified building while meeting the Passivhaus standard. Next steps could include:
a) Perform a detailed costs and benefits analysis, or Lifecycle cost (LCC) study of building to the Passivhaus standard.
b) Perform cost and compatibility comparison in the context of Canadian Regulation and prospective market incentives between a Passivhaus building and conventional building.
c) Conduct an in-depth analysis on the challenges/barriers faced by developers building to LEED certification while meeting the Passivhaus standard.
d) Initiate conversation with BC Hydro regarding the New Construction incentive program to adopt PHPP as a recognized tool for energy modelling.
2. BCIT could further explore what it would mean to position BCIT as an educational leader in Passivhaus design and construction:
a) BCIT could create a PassivHaus implementation guide.
b) BCIT could engage in study tours to interact with experts and visits to relevant sites.
c) BCIT could educate in the form of curriculum development through the SEMAC program or architecture or construction programs.
d) BCIT could develop/offer a formal program on Passivhaus Design and Construction for those who aim to become a Certified Passivhaus Designer/Consultant.
e) BCIT could develop/offer a formal program on Passivhaus Trades Person training.
f) BCIT could consider becoming a Passivhaus accredited building certifier and/or resource hub in North America.
The full set of recommendations can be viewed here.
Project fast facts
Building NE1 to the Passivhaus Standard for commercial building could mean:
- Up to 14,400 GJ per year (approximately 4,000,000 kWh per year) of energy conservation
- Approximately 450 CO2eq per year saved
- Approximately $200,000 per year of energy and GHG cost savings
The full report is available here.
What kind of changes would be needed to get NE1 to meet the set energy intensity target through a renovation project as opposed to building new: