LEED Silver energy efficiency rating for ACU branch
Al Morin and Garry Mitchell receive LEED Silver plaque
September 20, 2010 - Twenty years ago when the word ‘green’ was simply a colour in the Crayola box, we were building green at ACU. But this fall, the first project we submitted for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) consideration was awarded LEED Silver designation.
With this recognition, our newest branch — on Pembina at Bairdmore — has been recognized as one of Winnipeg’s most energy-efficient buildings. In fact we are one of only six buildings in the city that are LEED certified. Only three financial institutions in the province — all credit unions — have achieved a LEED designation.
“There are four LEED levels— Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum,” explains Garry Mitchell, ACU’s Vice-President of Facilities and Procurement. “Originally we were just shooting for the Certified level, but as we progressed with the build we realized that we were in the Silver range. I’m particularly proud that we managed to reach Silver within budget and without compromise.”
While LEED has set the international standards, Mitchell says ACU has its own homegrown commitment to building green that spans decades. “Conceptually, building green has been something that ACU has done for many years. For instance, when we rebuilt the St. Mary’s branch 20 years ago, we took it down brick by brick, sorted all the materials and donated most of it to Habitat for Humanity.”
“We’ve learned a lot over the years about doing the right thing for people and the environment. You can do some really simple and relatively low-cost things to a building and achieve some fairly large benefits. My favorite so far is the solar wall at the Pembina Branch. It was not that expensive to build and saves lots of energy.” The black solar wall next to the branch entrance is the intake for fresh air, which every building needs. In winter, fresh air has to be warmed from as low as -30 degrees outside to +20 degrees inside. “When the sun shines through the solar wall, it warms the cold air from -30 to -10, which saves an enormous amount of energy trying to warm fresh air.”
ACU’s legacy of building green extends beyond the rigours of LEED and includes some very practical retrofitting of older branches. Reconstruction of the downtown corporate office, which is currently under way, serves as another fine example of reducing, reusing and recycling.
Some green features of our LEED-certified branch
- Regionally produced and recycled materials reduces construction waste.
- Substantial recycling.
- Geothermal heating and cooling.
- Heat-recovery system extracts heat from inside air before it’s ventilated from the building.
- Solar wall supplements geothermal heating.
- Limited windows to the north and west help reduce heat and cold.
- High-efficiency windows.
- Natural light permeates over 70% of the interior work and member spaces.
- Bike racks and showers for staff.