Our biggest opportunity (and challenge) is in rethinking the remainder of the site - which we had previously designed as an central parkland fescue prairie landscape. We had originally focused our efforts on creating reasonably authentic plant communities (grasses, wildflowers, some shrub planting) over maximizing urban agriculture opportunities. Now we are looking at the potential for these same plants - as well as new plants - which contribute to the imperative.
The past 5 years have seen a significant drop in the cost of solar PV modules. A module that cost $2.50/watt in 2009 is now available for under $1/watt. This has significantly changed the way in which solar systems are now engineered. It’s no longer about maximizing the individual module; it’s about maximizing the total amount of energy your roof can produce, even at the expense of less output per module.
We’ve entered into the next phase of the process—how exciting and scary, all at the same time! We went from figuring out HOW to do the work to actually DOING the work, which means our group will be even busier over the next few months! Just as things are getting cued up for chaos, I will be stepping back from the working group and into a whole new world of chaos … motherhood!
Construction is pushing ahead rapidly here onsite. Over the past few weeks, the main focus has been the boring of the geothermal wells, foundation work and the preparation for the assembly of the superstructure.
At first, the Mosaic Centre was an idea. Could they build a commercial building a better way? Could they build something that actually makes employees live healthier lives? Could they build it in a way that gives back to the environment rather than take? To be honest, the first time I heard about it, I didn’t fully understand what it all meant.
Christy and I are fairly practical when it comes to undertaking large engineering projects, as this is what we do in our day jobs. We also understand commercial financing strategies because we have owned and leased-out properties of the like for quite some time. Admittedly, we were rookies in commercial building construction. So, when Christy and I set out to actualize our dream of building the perfect workplace for our family, we naturally expected there to be some challenges in obtaining financing for our first-of-its-kind project...
Back in the old days people would dress for the weather, put another log on the fire or head to the beach to deal with extreme weather variations. Today, we adjust a thermostat and expect an immediate response and thermal gratification regardless of the capital, energy cost and GHG emissions required to support our high expectations of comfort.
You cannot design a net zero building without a detailed Energy Model to accompany you throughout the design process. Nor can you design a geothermal system without a detailed energy model providing a clear picture of the loads extracted and rejected from the ground. You also need an energy model for the LEED submission process. A casual observer might naturally assume that this energy model is always done by the same person. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.
Wow, who would have thought contracts could be so much fun! In setting up the tri-party agreement for the Mosaic Centre, we had to start from an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) template that was provided by Hanson Bridgett, a legal firm from the U.S. In Canada, we typically use the Royal Architectural Institute of Canadaís (RAIC) standard contract document for an agreement between owner and architect and then facilitate a separate contract between owner and contractor. So when we are asked to use something different, the fun begins.
Work is moving along steadily here at the Mosaic Centre. The freezing temperatures over the past few weeks have allowed us to work without fighting the mud and soft soil conditions. This has improved efficiencies as well as the general mood onsite; nobody likes playing in the mud for 10 hours a day. Who would have thought the return of winter would be such a blessing!!