Ottawa’s Green Building Conference Asks Key Questions « The Canadian Headlines Newspaper
The term “green building” may conjure images of avant-garde condos and office buildings designed from scratch to maximize energy and water efficiency and reduce waste, but the organizers of the inaugural Green Building Ottawa Conference are asking how these principles can be applied to existing buildings.
“A lot of green building focus is on new buildings, but most of the buildings that are going to be standing in 2050 in Ottawa are already built,” says Lori Gadzala, executive director of the Canada Green Building Council, Ottawa chapter. Hosted at Carleton’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism from May 12 to 14, the conference’s theme is “retrofit” – looking at how new technology can be added to older structures to make them more sustainable.
The flip side of that approach is considering how building techniques of the past can inform sustainability in the future, she explains. “Historical buildings didn’t need AC because they had natural ventilation. They lasted longer because they used natural local materials like stone.”
The conference is the first of its kind in Eastern Canada, inspired by similar gatherings in Saskatchewan, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax and Winnipeg. Experts will explore materials, policy, technological innovation and case studies. “We’ve got some great green buildings that have already happened in Ottawa, or that are happening, and people want to hear about them – about the successes and the lessons learned,” Gadzala says.
While aimed primarily at industry professionals, including builders, architects, city planners, policy makers, educators and students, many of the issues will be of interest to the general public. “These are the people who are going to help effect change in our community,” she says.
Keynote speaker Edward Burtynsky (www.edwardburtynsky.com) is one of Canada’s best-known photographers, and his striking images depict humanity’s impact on the landscape. “A lot of his focus is on materials and waste.” Gadzala says. “A huge part of the stuff that’s in our landfills is from construction and demolition.” He will present a photo exhibit called In the Wake of Progress as part of a gala dinner on May 13 at the Canadian War Museum.
The next generation of green builders will also be featured. The student winners of the first Ottawa Eco-Logical Competition in March will share their ideas for a new green Canada Science and Technology Museum. Shannon Martin, who just completed her fourth year of architecture at Carleton, is a member of one of the winning groups from the weekend-long challenge.
“It was pretty intense – we only had a day to design the project,” she says. It was her first time collaborating with students from different programs. “They think about things differently; they know different things.”
Her team decided that the concept of flow was key. Their proposed design uses the flow of people through the building to help visitors understand the flow of energy and consumption in that space.
Martin will be starting her master’s in architecture next year, and while she’s not sure yet exactly what type of buildings she’ll design, she knows they’ll be green. “It’s where things are going – at first it was just a trend. In reality every building is going to have to be a green building,” she says.
For a complete agenda, and to register, please go to www.greenbuildingottawa.ca.
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