Green Development Strengthens Iconic Ottawa Church

Green Development Strengthens Iconic Ottawa Church


A groundbreaking ceremony in August marked the beginning of new project by Windmill Developments called Cathedral Hill. It also broke new ground metaphorically, as the project will represent very contemporary achievements in terms of sustainability, heritage, advanced architecture and modern partnerships. Built on-site with Ottawa’s historic Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks Street, it will be an answer to some of the church’s challenges, and it will become the landmark that visitors notice first as they enter downtown from the west.

It combines all the elements of modern condominium living and building: Green technology, stunning natural views from a 20 storey tower, sumptuous design of interiors, courtyards and accompanying townhouses, downtown location advantages,

a walkable, friendly neighbourhood and a community-enhancing development partnership.


In some parts of the world churches are struggling to redefine themselves within their community and to survive financially. Windmill Developments has created a model that helps such organizations revitalize themselves while remaining viable and becoming more environmentally responsible too.

Cathedral Hill is good example of this idea in action. The church was able to leverage its real estate and key location, and by partnering with Windmill, will increase both its community visibility and the local population base. The developer benefitted from a perfect location for its latest project and the church received prepaid 200-year lease revenue, and should grow, as new owners move into the area.

Today’s non-profit groups are faced with high utility bills, deferred maintenance, and ongoing operational costs. The funds being used for upkeep might be better spent furthering the core mission of their organizations. BuildGreen Solutions, a consulting arm of Windmill, has developed a unique program aimed at optimizing assets of not-for-profit groups, schools and churches and helping them to turn maintenance liabilities into sustainable funding sources.


In addition, Windmill Developments would have to be considered one of Canada’s greenest builders, and Cathedral Hill one of the greenest projects in Canada. It will be LEED Gold or Silver and is expected to achieve between 40% and 50% more energy efficiency than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings expects from a project with its footprint. It will feature high envelope conservation standards an innovative HVAC system, contemporary water management, and is designed to limit the need for automobile travel.

Cathedral Hill wall sections will be doubly insulated on the inside and on the outside, followed by more exterior insulation, and finally a special cladding material. This achieves overall thermal resistance of approximately R22, far exceeding code, increasing thermal comfort and reducing energy consumption.

Preventing the natural movement of heat toward cooler spaces has traditionally meant adding mechanical heating and cooling, depending on the season. Cathedral Hill’s energy efficient double-glazed Low-E windows are designed to include an insulating barrier, rather than a thermal bridge, between the outside and inside portions of the window frame and between the two panes of glass. This is critical insofar as up to 50% of heat transfer can be via poorly designed windows and doors. Window coatings help control heat gain from the sun in warm temperatures and also keep the heat within the suites in cooler seasons.


The project will employ a rare and highly efficient heat pump process for heating and cooling. The 200-ton system will use Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology to regulate the flow of refrigerant between the condensing unit and each of the indoor units in accordance with the capacity requirements of the building. Because the heat pumps will be centrally located, it will be possible to move heat from one side of the building to another, without îı\002778ˇøÚ‹””>having to use fuel to make more heat. Depending on the outdoor temperature and sun exposure, the VRF system will simply move hot refrigerant to where it is needed.

The system’s inverter drive varies the compressor speed to match the building’s heating or cooling load, which is constantly changing. Partial load conditions prevail for more than 90% of operation time and inverter-driven technology takes advantage of this, so VRF systems produce significant energy savings. There is no refrigerant-to-water heat loss as with a chiller system. This means the compressor can maintain a higher suction pressure for more efficient operation. VRF systems also don’t have lengthy metal ducts that cause heat loss. Instead they save energy and allow each indoor unit to operate individually, with separate adjustment of the environment in each area. In addition, VRF system heat pumps are in the

It is also being designed so that excess heat can be moved, as available, to supplement the domestic hot water heating function, further controlling project energy costs. In addition each suite is equipped with a quiet enthalpy-wheel-based Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).


Digital metres in the suites will connect the user with environmental conditions and the costs they are incurring. This is a more integrated approach to energy management, and has been proven to reduce energy usage. Suites include Energy Star appliances and all common areas will be lit by extremely efficient LED lighting systems, to reduce the electricity load required by the project.

To minimize unnecessary fresh water use, toilets in the townhouses and on the fist five floors of the tower will be flushed using a rainwater harvesting system. A 125 cubic metre rain harvest tank and 132 cubic metre stormwater overflow cistern will be built into the project.

Cathedral Hill is located near the Gatineau/Ottawa bike trail system. Frequent transit service in the corridor is only a few blocks from its front door. By 2017, the LRT will be complete and a nearby station is expected to be included. Windmill is also in talks with a bike rental service and a car sharing service, either or both of which may be incorporated at or near the site.

High envelope conservation standards, an innovative HVAC system, contemporary water management, limited automobile travel; it all adds up to an almost religious sensitivity to our natural environment. And with its modern church partnership, urban living advantages, innovative architecture and heritage aspects, Cathedral Hill truly is ground-breaking.




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