Canada’s first ‘Zero Net Energy’ building opens in Oxford Country
Designed to be Canada’s first Zero Net Energy building, the Waste Management and Education Centre has opened in Oxford County, Ontario. The 372-square-metre building, by architect Michael Wilson, features rammed earth walls, wood frame construction, triple pane windows and a photovoltaic array.
The centre supports the County of Oxford’s goals of becoming a zero waste community by the year 2025, and a 100% renewable energy community by the year 2050.
“The new Oxford County Waste Management and Education Centre is a real-world example of how buildings can be sustainably constructed and operated,” said Peter Crockett, CAO, Oxford County. “It includes demonstrations, resources and information to educate and inspire further sustainability initiatives.”
The new building replaces a farmhouse building formally serving as an administrative office, and reclaims the barn’s timber as a feature wall. It includes offices and a regional conference room, and hosts school field trips and displays for public education.
The project aims to provide a comfortable building that consumes very low amounts of energy by implementing Passive House strategies and technologies. All energy used is provided by onsite renewable energy systems. The building performance will be measured against the New Building Institute’s (NBI) Zero Net Energy criteria (71.5 kWh/m2) with a goal of demonstrating that the building achieves Net-Zero performance over a 12-month period. If the building meets this target, it will be the first building in Canada and Ontario to be verified as a Zero Net Energy building by the NBI.
Though still uncommon in Ontario, rammed earth is an appropriate wall system for the land fill building, as it is literally placed in compacted lifts analogous to the layered disposal of waste. To highlight rainwater collection, a single valley of the asymmetrical roof form diverts the rain into a scupper leading to a garden.