Net-positive energy office building coming up in Ontario

A rendering of the Howland Green Business Centre in Markham, Ontario, the country’s first net-positive energy office building.
Photo courtesy CNW Group/Howland Green Homes

When fully operational, the Howland Green Business Centre in Markham, Ont., will be one of the country’s first net-positive energy office buildings, producing more energy than it will consume. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the three-storey structure will have 5481 m2 (59,000 sf) of office space and two levels of underground parking.

The centre has many innovative features, including enhanced insulated concrete formwork (ICF). The customized ICF has a thermal resistance value of at least R-40, far in excess of any other standard. The building has an R-80 roof insulation—approximately four times more than the code requirement—resulting in blockage of energy transfer, depending on the season.

The fibreglass windows employ low-emissivity (low-e) argon gas with resistance values as high as R-9, thereby exceeding typical triple-glazed window values. The developer, Howland Green, installed high-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lighting with motion sensors where applicable.

Additionally, geothermal technology with automatic load sharing and individual office controls was adopted to heat and cool the building at a fraction of the cost of conventional buildings.

Rooftop photovoltaic (PV) arrays capture approximately 420,000 watts of solar energy and generate about 515,000 kWh of clean, green energy. This helps to offset the structure’s carbon footprint as the operational demand for the entire building will be approximately 430,000 kWh. The generated energy would be stored in a lithium-ion and pneumatic system for future use.

The centre also boasts of an innovative water recycling system, designed to harvest all rainwater and recycle it onsite. Occupants can also enjoy one of the lowest condominium fees because of the energy savings.

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