Metro Vancouver Close Up – LEED Certified Firehall in Maple Ridge Goes for Gold in Energy Efficiency

Metro Vancouver Close Up logoFighting fires might take a lot of water, but this Maple Ridge fire hall certainly doesn’t! See how the newly rebuilt hall, along with the Maple Ridge SPCA, uses a variety of innovations to keep water and energy use as low as possible, without sacrificing functionality.

The Number One Firehall in Maple Ridge was rebuilt in 2011 and recently received a LEED Gold certification. That designation highlights a big difference with this building.

Low Flow Firehall

LEED Firehall 7“Firehalls are typically energy pigs,” says Maple Ridge Fire Chief Dane Spence with a smile.

But in this instance, that typical scenario doesn’t apply. Putting the rebuilt hall to the LEED test meant every aspect of the building was rated for its sustainability. Spence highlights some of the key features.

“In this case we do not have any watering system for the plants – they are all drought resistant plants, (and) all the fixtures, the toilets, the sinks are all low flow.”

The building is full of similar energy saving improvements, such as light panels which harness sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

“The firehall gave us a really unique opportunity to look into alternative energies,” says Laura Benson, Manager of Sustainability and Corporate Planning for Maple Ridge. “So we’ve got a geo-exchange heating and cooling system there.”

Energy Efficiency From Above and Below

LEED Firehall 2The firehall has 38 holes 300 feet deep, which allow for a geothermal heat exchange as well as white membrane on the roof to reflect heat.

“The outside of the building, the building envelope is designed to provide as much insulation as possible,” explains Spence.

Spence points out that LEED Certified buildings can play a greater role in the community beyond their own energy efficiency.

“We didn’t just simply want to chase LEED points, but we wanted to have a LEED building in Maple Ridge. We wanted to show some leadership in the community.”

An added challenge for the new firehall was the fact that the building was actually addition to the old firehall.

“In our case we were able to achieve LEED gold,” notes Spence. “And for a building of 20,000 square feet – 10,000 of it new, 10,000 of it renovated, I’m very proud of that fact.”

SPCA Building Another Maple Ridge Standout

LEED Firehall 3Another LEED Gold building in the area is The Maple Ridge SPCA which has such features as high efficiency light and heating as well as rainwater collection.

“This was a great opportunity to partner with the SPCA,” says Benson. “We provided the land, they built the building and having it a LEED gold certified building is just the icing on the cake.”

Maple Ridge mayor Nicole Read hopes that energy efficient design will become the norm rather than a lofty goal.

“I think that looking at ways to build structures that are sustainable, energy efficient. These are things that we need to be doing not as sort of the ideal, but a general practice.”

Saving Energy Without Sacrificing Functionality

LEED Firehall 6Despite all the differences from a traditional building the firehall and SPCA haven’t had any reduction in functionality.

“You don’t realize that the faucets you’re washing your hands with have the low-flow restrictors on it,” says Dane Spence. “You don’t even question it and you’re saving money and it just becomes part of your everyday life.”

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