Today the Honourable John Gerretsen, Minister of the Environment for the province of Ontario, and the Honourable John Baird, Canada’s Environment Minister, joined Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien to announce their joint support for a leading-edge green convention centre in the nation’s capital. They also issued a call for all future redevelopment projects in Canada to consider the environment in every aspect of design, construction and operation.

“Going green is the way of the future,” said Minister Gerretsen “It’s vitally important for competing in the new economy of the twenty-first century where high-skilled, high-paying jobs are based on leading-edge business practices that protect our environment. The plan for the new Ottawa Convention Centre is an excellent example of the kind of visionary thinking everyone needs to be doing. ”

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.

“The new Ottawa Convention Centre will be a great example across Ontario and Canada of a major project which is meeting the environmental challenge,” said Minister Baird. “As Regional Minister for Ottawa and as Canada’s Environment Minister, I am pleased that the federal government has already announced it is providing $50 million in support for this important fixture in our great city. Ottawa will really be getting a ‘two-for-one’: a new Convention Centre and an environmentally-friendly addition to our city.”

Considerable resourcefulness and creativity on green solutions are expected to emerge in the proposals next month from Ellis Don and PCL Constructors, both competing for the contract to redevelop the convention facility. The result will mean that the new building will achieve substantially better performance in energy efficiency, conservation and waste reduction, indoor air quality and water efficiency than is currently available in the existing facility. These efficiencies will in turn reduce operating costs in a new facility.

“The City of Ottawa is proud to partner with the governments of Ontario and Canada and invest in such leadership in environmentally sustainable redevelopment,” said Mayor O’Brien. “We are particularly proud that our city will be host to a new facility that sets a standard for new convention facilities everywhere.”

Required in the proposals are solutions for energy efficiency and an innovative design for ventilation and air management systems that recover energy from stale air before it is exhausted from the building. Windows will need to be double glazed, gas-filled, air tight and thermally insulated. Mechanical devices and motor drives in the building will need to run at variable speeds so that when they are not needed, devices are slowed down or shut off.

“The building will provide an extremely healthy environment for all who enter it,” said Jim Durrell, Chair of the Board of the Ottawa Convention Centre. “It will be sealed up very well, without off-gas emissions from the building materials associated with buildings of the past. These odours contain volatile organic compounds which are not healthy for humans or the environment.”

The new facility is expected to use materials that are regionally manufactured or recycled to contribute to the local economy but also avoid pollution associated with transportation. The finishing products such as carpets, millwork, and paints will be low in volatile compounds, and in the summer, air will be pre-cooled as it enters the building, and pre-heated in the winter.

The proponents have been asked to come up with a solution for gathering storm water to be recycled for toilet use and irrigation. The facility may also have its own water filtration plant, again to reduce waste, re-use and recycle. The roof top will have garden areas where for example, in time, herbs can be grown, flash frozen, and used in the preparation of meals on an ongoing basis. This will complement several major new innovations that will be introduced in the commercial kitchen in order to reduce waste and substantially improve energy efficiency.

The OCC also intends to implement a comprehensive waste management program, replete with advanced collection and sorting plans. Another feature of the post-occupancy environmental plan is an advanced green housekeeping and maintenance regime that will ensure that the building continues to operate in a healthy and environmentally friendly way for all visitors, staff and exhibitors.

In their work on the new convention facilities, proponents are encouraged to come up with some of their own environmental innovations, but are required to achieve LEED certification. LEED, which is administered in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is North America’s leading third party green building rating system.

“The Ottawa Convention Centre has always had an interest in environmental leadership,” said Patrick Kelly, President, Ottawa Convention Centre. “In 2008, we became the first Canadian Founding Industry Partner of the Convene Green Alliance. The Alliance is a grass-roots organization based in Washington DC represented by numerous industry sectors concerned about the environment. As a Founding Industry Member, we have joined other leading destinations and multi-national hotel chains in shaping the future of green meetings while people gather to exchange ideas. We are very proud to continue this commitment in the new facility. ”

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