Forward thinking pays off

Forward thinking pays off



MOE reaps the benefits of completing a green reno by taking home LEED Platinum award

By Greg McMillan

Sometimes it’s a good thing to put the cart before the horse.

Case in point: Prior to relocating about 150 staff members back in 2009, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) decided to complete a renovation to the specifications of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum for Commercial Interiors rating system.

And the MOE’s forward thinking ended up reaping benefits still being felt today.

Not only did the MOE project on the 10th and 11th floors of the Ferguson Block at 77 Wellesley Street in Toronto receive Platinum certification in 2012, but it was also the highest level achievable and the first in the Ontario Public Service, according to Eva Musso, the MOE’s Project Green Team Lead.
Working with Enermodal Engineering and Freeman + Freeman Design Inc., she said the MOE renovation was completed at a cost that was less, on a square foot basis, than other comparable projects undertaken around that time.


David Freeman, Principal, Freeman + Freeman Design Inc., says the MOE took a lead position on working toward obtaining LEED Platinum certification, right from the start.

“The project was expected to be 15 per cent more costly than a typical office build out,” he explained, “however, with reusable wall panels, furniture that could easily be reconfigured, built-in energy and water savings, enhanced air quality testing and monitoring, the additional up front costs will be recouped in 7-8 years and the project will actually produce cost savings over the life cycle on the 10-year lease, from that of a typical office build out.”


To begin with, Musso says, the project achieved a 92 per cent waste diversion rate during the reno process, through the extensive training of tradespeople, a litterless workspace, separate diversion room on site, and extensive monitoring of input materials.


She described green building features found throughout the space that reflect the MOE mission:

  • Each floor is organized into four themes represented by panels – water, air, earth and energy. Features of the space include the use of reclaimed and local materials, such as salvaged wood beams and flooring from 1860s farmhouses.
  • A living wall designed and created in Brantford.
  • Countertops containing 80-100 per cent recycled content, including concrete, glass and shells
  • Real time tracking of energy use for carbon footprint – space is metered throughout with Energy Star equipment.
  • Heating and cooling provided by deep lake water cooling, and electricity.
  • 100 per cent EcoLogo certified alternative electricity.
  • Provisions for bicycle parking.
  • A kiosk providing interactive information about the space for visitors and staff.
  • 90 per cent of all occupants have access to daylight and views.
  • Low cubicle walls and daylighting control sensors and low wattage lighting which adjusts to the amount of light outside – lowers the demand for electricity as well.
  • CO2 sensors installed throughout to monitor carbon dioxide levels and communicate with air handling unit to bring in more fresh air from the outside if the levels are high. 10015-18


Musso added that economic savings have been realized through improved use of natural light, sensor lighting, Energy Star appliances, and low flow and aerated faucets and washroom fixtures.

Freeman stresses that the MOE saw an opportunity to lead by example when it came to the construction of new offices.

“Since the project’s completion the MOE has adhered to the LEED principles and undertaken renovations to the space to maintain the Platinum rating,” Freeman says.  “Walls and furniture workstations have been relocated with no waste, the water and energy savings, through monitoring and controls, have been confirmed, and the staff enjoy the access to daylight and views.


“With a defined goal and commitment, the MOE demonstrated it is possible to achieve the highest standards of green building and sustainability.”





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