Environmental sustainability was a major requirement of the winning proposal to redevelop the convention centre and counted as a critical measure in the selection of Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects and PCL Constructors.

A green convention facility will significantly reduce the environmental impact on the downtown core by shrinking greenhouse gas emissions associated with facility operations and energy use. The Board of the Ottawa Convention Centre insisted on strong environmental performance and leadership because of its location but also because of a commitment to doing what is right for the future of the planet.

Considerable resourcefulness and creativity on green solutions have been applied to the demolition and construction of the new facility, which began in the fall of 2008. Attention has been paid to reducing 50 per cent of construction waste sent to the landfill by recycling materials such as concrete, steel, gypsum and wood. Seventy-five per cent of job site waste is being recycled through a comprehensive bin storage and pick-up program for steel, wood, plastic, gypsum and cardboard. Food and beverage containers are placed in blue boxes, and a detailed record of all weigh bills will be managed by the LEED consultant on the project.

During construction, the comfort and well-being of occupants will be protected through an indoor air quality program that will prevent moisture and debris from gathering in the HVAC and duct work, protect finished areas from construction debris, and provide for daily clean up to promote a clean and safe working environment. Another critical component will be the installation of materials which create dust, such as drywall and odorous materials, such as paints and sealants, prior to the installation of absorptive materials such as carpet and acoustic tile.

Soil erosion and sediment control on the building site has been a major consideration. A silt fence has been built around the perimeter of the site. Storm drain inlets are protected with fabric that filters silt and sediment, again helping to maintain a healthy work environment.

The design of the Ottawa Convention Centre will also enhance environmental sustainability. Energy savings of 25 percent as compared to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings will be achieved. This will be done through the installation of high efficiency mechanical equipment, a high performance building envelope, recycling of ventilation products, increased insulation levels, variable seed pumps and motors, high performance windows and frames, and occupancy and daylight sensors to reduce interior lighting consumption, and low-flow water fixtures to reduce water consumption.

The facility will also have a thermal monitoring system so that at all times only the required heating and cooling will be on. In addition, one hundred per cent of parking spaces will be under the Ottawa Convention Centre which creates a heating source and increases energy efficiency for the building.

To encourage environmentally responsible maintenance practices, a green housekeeping program will be implemented using Green Seal and EcoLogo certified cleaning products and materials such as paper towels that are made of recycled content. Being in the heart of the downtown core means that access to public transportation and alternative transportation is available. The architects have also provided ample locations for bike racks, and shower facilities for staff who choose to ride bicycles or jog to work.

One of the most distinct green practices in the new convention centre, and a demonstration of serious commitment to environmental protection, is a ‘Green Building Education” program. This will incorporate in a central location an interactive kiosk, signage and a visible case study on how the application of green technology worked in both the construction and the operation of the facility.

LEED certification is administered in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council, and stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Ottawa Convention Centre became the first Canadian Founding Industry Partner of the Convene Green Alliance, a grass-roots organization based in Washington DC represented by numerous industry sectors concerned about the environment.

The Ottawa Convention Centre is scheduled to open in April 2011.

The Ottawa Convention Centre is an agency of the province of Ontario.