Green roof

The building is covered by a 800 m2 green roof made from a pre-grown roll of InstaGreen vegetation consisting of 10 species of sedum, a group of plants well adapted to life on a Quebec rooftop.

Raised floor

The floors in the building’s office spaces are raised, leaving a 305-mm space between the exterior surface of the floor and the concrete slab below. This space, which is called a plenum, houses a ventilation system that delivers conditioned air directly to occupants. This system uses less energy than conventional ventilation because it circulates air at a lower speed and from below, i.e., directly into the space occupied by the employee. 


Gearless machine room-less elevators like the ones at the Centre for Sustainable Development generally use 25% to 35% less energy than conventional elevators. They take up less space, are lighter in weight, and require less motor power to operate. 

Building envelope

The Centre for Sustainable Development has an ultra high performance building envelope with superior thermal resistance that significantly reduces weak spots in the insulation (known as thermal bridges). All windows are triple pane with two layers of low-emissivity coating.

Geothermal heating and cooling system

The 28 geothermal wells that lie 152 metres underneath the Centre for Sustainable Development supply the building with 100% of its cooling needs in summer and 100% of its heating needs. For each unit of energy used to circulate the fluid in the system, three or four new units are created. There is also an auxiliary natural gas heating system, if necessary.

Energy efficient lighting

Windows are positioned and sized to optimize natural light and outdoor views. Automated tools (light intensity and motion detectors) and efficient lighting devices with low mercury bulbs (T5 and LED) significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed in the building. Ecotect software was used to maximize and measure the amount of natural light in regularly occupied areas. The project also controls for light pollution. 


Rainwater recovery

A cistern harvests rainwater, which is redirected to the building’s toilets. Such measures are expected to reduce consumption of drinking water by 55% and of wastewater by 58%. 

Waterless and low flow plumbing

To prevent leaks and reduce water consumption, the low flow faucets are equipped with infrared sensors for automatic shut-off during soaping and after rinsing. Dual-flush toilets use 3.4 litres for a quick flush, 4.8 for a full. The waterless urinals also save significant amounts of water. 


Living wall

A 400-plant colony vertically mounted on a 5-storey wall over a duct that “inhales” air so that microorganisms living on the roots can feed on pollutants in the air, acting as a natural air filter. 

Toxic emissions (VOC and formaldehyde)

The Centre for Sustainable Development is aiming for four LEED credits for low-emitting materials: adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, flooring systems, and composite wood and agrifiber products. The low gloss paint used in the Centre contains no more than 50 g/l of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Conventional paints of a comparable type can contain four times that amount.

Choice of Ecological Materials

Supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs)

De 10 à 20 % de la masse du ciment The Portland cement used to make the building’s concrete contains 10% to 20% fly ash, a residue recycled from coal-fired power plants. The building also features two experimental concrete slabs (fitted with monitoring equipment) made in part with powdered glass from recycled bottles.

FSC-certified wood (Forest Stewardship Council)

The Centre for Sustainable Development is aiming for the LEED credit requiring that at least 50% of the new wood used in the building comes from FSC-certified forests.  

Materials with recycled content

The Centre for Sustainable Development is aiming for the  two LEED credits requiring that at least 15% of the materials used are made from recycled content. The drywall is made from 99% recycled materials and the fiberglass wool insulation from 70%. The counters of the building’s five kitchenettes are made from 93% recycled glass. 

Waste management

At least 90% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills.   

Wood reclaimed from rivers

Log driving has harmed many of our rivers, littering the bottoms with sunken logs. Some companies now make it their mission to clean rivers by retrieving the logs for resale. The yellow birch used to cover the railings on the staircase in the atrium and on the 2nd floor walkway come from the bottom of the Georgian Bay.