Strong Links

Freybe Gourmet Foods, Langley, British Columbia
Robert Burgers Architect

When Freybe Gourmet Foods required a new facility for the production of its international award-winning natural food products, the primary concerns were to produce a product efficiently, while providing a healthy workplace that addresses a variety of environmental issues. Responding to the task, Robert Burgers Architect addressed a multitude of challenges such as product flow, health issues, workflow systems for service delivery, and the coordination of a list of consultants in order to incorporate highly-specialized equipment, environmental and sustainable design.

The final design and completed building illustrates that private, industrial projects can meet and exceed the standards and expectations of the public sector in addition to demonstrating the inherent value of architects in coordinating complex projects involving the environment, the workplace and the necessary efficiency of an industrial building.

The selection of materials for Freybe had to address the issue of flexibility for future expansion and recyclability of the components of the building. When the application of a tilt-up construction system was suggested, the architects conducted a study comparing the cost of the tilt-up method of construction versus a more refined version in steel. Avoiding the use of tilt-up concrete panels, the architects developed a framework of structural steel for columns and beams to satisfy the functional requirements of the building while remaining within the overall budget of the project. The resultant building was one where the exterior and interior walls and ceilings consist of galvanized steel and insulated panels of up to 40 feet high. The R-values for the walls and ceiling exceed, and in several cases are more than double, the acceptable standards. In the end, all materials are fully recyclable and allow for a total flexibility to add to or change the building when required.

Another issue addressed in the project is the consumption of water in the factory. Wastewater is collected, treated and released to standards exceeding local specifications. Organic materials are separated, treated and used as a component for fertilizers. A bio-filtration system employing ponds, reeds and other planting materials filters the water from the parking surface and rooftops. Over time, the treated water is released into the nearby salmon-bearing Maja creek. The system was developed with the support of Environment Canada and has become the standard for the remaining properties adjacent to the creek.

The building’s mechanical considerations include a considerably more costly ammonia-based system that was chosen over an alternative freon system for its greater energy efficiency and human and environmental safety. The architects were able to link the various mechanical components such as air handling, steam, vacuum, hot and cold water, electrical services and refrigeration to increase the mechanical efficiency of the building. Through the introduction of a mezzanine floor, heat, refrigeration, steam, air, vacuum, and power are provided to each room and piece of equipment without interfering with room functions.

Other environmental issues such as smokehouse odours that are generated during the production process are contained so that neither contaminants nor odours are released into the atmosphere. Services are fully adjustable to any changes and future expansion. As a result, all the mechanical equipment exceeds the new Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) standards for energy efficiency and particle emissions. Overall, the architects stressed the importance of functionality in the development of their aesthetic sensibility toward this industrial building.