Manitoba Hydro Downtown Office Building

Project Profile: Manitoba Hydro Downtown Office Building

Firm name: AECOM Technology Corporation

Project building name and location: Manitoba Hydro Downtown Office Building Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Type of building and type of project: Office Building New Construction

Project completion date and project duration: Project completed: 2010 Project duration: 5 years


Engineering challenges and solutions:

  1. Challenge: The 22-story cold-climate sustainable is the first of the next generation of sustainable buildings that integrates time-tested environmental concepts with advanced technologies to achieve a living building that responds to the local climate and provides the highest quality of space for the occupants.

    1. Solution: Even in the extreme climate of Winnipeg, the office tower was designed to rely on passive free energy without compromising design quality or human comfort. The tower features a 3-ft-wide double façade curtain-wall system to the east and west, which creates a buffer zone between the interior and the outdoors with manually operated interior windows, combined with automated exterior windows and automated shades. The building also features three six-story south atria that operate as “lungs,” providing 100% fresh air through a displacement ventilation system. Geothermal heat pumps use the earth to heat and cool the structure through pipes embedded in the exposed concrete ceilings. The building’s additional sustainable features include green podium rooftops with accessible terraces and a solar chimney.

  2. Challenge:With a winter design temperature of -31 F, the project location in downtown Winnipeg presented the project team with unique climatic challenges. Winnipeg has the coldest climate in the world for a city with a population of more than 500,000. The temperature is below zero more than 40% of the year. In addition, Winnipeg summers have an average temperature of 95 F, a temperature swing of more than 100 F. The challenge was to design the building to use these elements as an advantage.

    1. Solution: To take advantage of Winnipeg’s solar energy, the building’s triangular shape maximizes exposure to the south, minimizing exposure to cold North winds. The narrow, 33-ft-wide floor plates with 11-ft-high ceilings allow sunlight to penetrate deep into the building, providing natural daylight for 80% of normal office hours.

      The mechanical systems include radiant heating and cooling, displacement ventilation, natural ventilation, and a high-efficiency central heating and cooling plant with a geothermal component. The building is heated and cooled with radiant slabs (hydronic tubes embedded in the concrete), and its displacement ventilation system supplies the office space with 100% fresh air (unlike a conventional building where air is recirculated).

  3. Challenge: To maintain optimal operating conditions, the building needed to automatically adapt to the continuously changing climatic environment.

    1. Solution: The building houses an advanced computer-based building management system (BMS) to coordinate operation of energy management and building systems. In addition to controlling the HVAC system, the BMS monitors stand-alone systems such as blinds, lighting, security, and exterior windows.

      The lighting systems have their own integral lighting level and motion sensors. For the general office lighting, luminaries are suspended from the exposed concrete ceilings with approximately 70% up-lighting to reflect the light off the ceiling. This creates a seamless transition for the occupant as the light source switches from natural to artificial. Light fixtures are T5 high-output fixtures with integral sensors and individual control by the occupants. LED sources have been used throughout to both enhance energy efficiency and promote the client’s commitment to sustainability. The result is an energy-efficient, sustainable office tower in a challenging North American climate..

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