A Case Study: Achieving Zero Requires Going Beyond Integrated Design

Mike Williams, RWDI

Located on McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) in Hamilton, Ontario, Natural Resources Canada's Canmet Materials and Testing Laboratory is one of the world's greenest buildings. The 16,000-square-meter facility includes a mix of laboratory, office and collaboration program areas.

The project was completed in 2011 and since that time has achieved a LEED-Platinum level of certification and perhaps more importantly has confirmed through an extensive ongoing measurement and verification program that the building is using 64 percent less energy when compared to similar operational laboratories. This presentation will outline some of the key energy conservation measures including a 208 panel solar thermal array, 7,000-square-foot solar wall, district geofield, displacement ventilation, to name a few.

One of the keys to success at Canmet was the realization that the process of integration had to continue beyond the design phase of the project with a collaborative construction process and continue throughout the operational phase of the project. This presentation will discuss some of the tools and methods that were used to ensure continued collaboration throughout the life of the building.

Attendees can hope to take away lessons on how to not only design for high performance but how to realize it.

Learning Objectives

  • Why realizing high performance requires integration beyond design into the construction and operational phases of a project.
  • Energy required to temper outdoor air and create occupant comfort conditions is one of the largest end uses of energy for laboratory buildings in cold climates. Learn how this project first took steps to reduce the demand for heating energy and then leverage alternative supply opportunities to greatly decrease the project's energy footprint.
  • Challenges teams can expect to face when implementing measurement and verification in a complex laboratory facility.
  • Challenges when implementing renewable energy technologies on a large scale (e.g. 208 solar thermal panels, a district geofield and a 7,000 sq. ft. solar wall).


For the past 10 years Mike Williams has been working as a sustainability consultant in the building design and construction industry. Mr. Williams' recent project experience includes work on some of the world's greenest laboratories including the Canmet Laboratory in Hamilton and the SickKids Research Tower in Toronto. Mr. Williams has been invited to speak at a number of conferences including: Construct Canada, Green Real-estate Forum, Sustainable Labs Canada, MIAGreen and the CaGBC National Summit.


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