Greening Government

Hinton Government Centre, Hinton, Alberta

Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd.

Located due west of Edmonton on the eastern edge of Jasper National Park, the Town of Hinton recently completed the Government Centre, a 3,000 square metre, three-storey office building for municipal and provincial government services. Conceived using an integrated design process involving extensive consultation between architects, engineers, Town officials and community members, the building’s aggressive green agenda addresses sustainability on a number of fronts.

The Hinton Government Centre combines a variety of passive and active approaches to sustainable design, from a low-impact site strategy to material selection to sophisticated electronic environmental controls. For instance, topsoil and seed material removed during site preparation were stockpiled and reused to reestablish native groundcover to absorb surface water and provide low maintenance, drought-tolerant landscaping.

Organized as two blocks on either side of a glazed atrium–one to the northeast housing public functions, one to the southwest accommodating the offices–the building’s massing and orientation respond to the need for glare-free daylighting, which is also supported by raised ceiling heights and narrow floor plates allowing for maximum light penetration. High performance, spectrally selective low-E glazing reduces solar heat gain and winter night-time radiation loss, providing a high degree of visible light transmittance while reducing heat transfer. Operable windows provide natural ventilation, which is enhanced by the stack effect of the central atrium that provides high-level air relief.

Exterior finishes and structure are primarily of wood, selected as a renewable material with low embodied energy. The wood is used to dramatic effect in the locally produced peeled log columns that mark the entry bridge, atrium and outdoor patio. Exposed timber beams, joists and decking in public areas like the atrium and council chamber create a warm, rustic character appropriate to the site’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains.

Supplementing the passive strategies are a number of active systems, such as motion-controlled light sensors ensuring artificial lighting is only used when occupants are present. Computerized electronic controls provide zonal temperature and ventilation control, while diffusers provide individual control of air speed and volume where it is introduced at the floor level of each workspace, decreasing the air pressure required for optimal distribution. This strategy provides a higher degree of comfort and control to individual occupants, and also contributes to energy savings through reduced fan operation and smaller air handlers. This combination of active and passive approaches has the Hinton Government Centre operating at 52% below the consumption levels targeted in the Model National Energy Code for Buildings, an important benchmark in meeting the objectives of Natural Resources Canada’s C-2000 program for sustainable building design. MP

Client: Town of Hinton

Architect team: Vivian Manasc, Mike Woodland, Derek Heslop, Emery Yakowich, Sonny Shem, Deana MacKenzie Werner Jappsen

Structural: Duthie Newbie Weber

Mechanical: Keen Engineering

Electrical: Reid Crowther

Landscape: Gibbs & Brown

Interiors: Manasc Isaac Architects

Contractor: Graham Construction

Energy modeling: Gord Shymko

Area: 3,000m2

Budget: $4.5 million

Completion: March 2001

Photography: James Dow