Montreal’s Center for Sustainable Development is a collective of organizations for social justice and ecological change headquartered in a building that is just as green as the group's mission. Commissioned by Equiterre, the building is made from sustainable materials, utilizes many eco strategies and even boasts a beautiful vertical garden and green roof. The new site acts as a think tank, fusing the eco-innovative ideas from nine tenant companies with the purpose of inciting environmental change through the sharing of knowledge.
Equiterre’s new headquarters has helped foster symbiosis through the tenants it has curated to share the new green design space. Sharing their space also attracts a mix of audience, bringing in the members of the public who may not have heard of the other organizations who get to leave the site as new, educated fans. The lobby features a small community meeting room, which can be used for seminars and also showcases the art work of sustainable artist Marie-Claire Blais, whose organic designs are screen printed on sound absorbing material that is stretched around the room in angular panels.
The retrofitted building’s green features begin from the ground and go up. A metal rectangle blocks off part of the concrete floor of the lobby, which is actually a monitoring system for a new experimental concrete. The material replaces the cement portion of the concrete with recycled glass powder, which is monitored with measuring instruments located within and below the slab. The banister from the lobby to second floor is lined with a rich, dark wood that was derived from the St. Lawrence river floor. In the logging industry, around 10% of the wood is lost, as it sinks to the floor in transit to the mill. Once recovered, the salvaged wood, which is over a hundred years old, is more dense and durable than fresh wood, as the water slowly replaces the living material, and creates a fossilization. Rising from the lobby floor and stretching the height of the building, is a self irrigating living wall, which filters air and brings a pop of greenery into the entire building. Automated shades measure solar gain every ten minutes, and self adjust per window pane.
The offices are heated with raised floor heating, which is warmed with hot air located in 12 inch chambers under the surface of the floor, which is controllable by a simple dial. This also keeps employees warmer, as the heat doesn’t have far to reach a seated body, plus saves 15% on energy. The building is heated geothermically, with a 90% recooperation for stalled air located in their top floor air recycling system, which include heat exchangers. Around 80% of the building’s heat needs are met with the 28 geothermic wells that are under the building, and 100% of their air conditioning needs. Rainwater is gathered and recycled, and released in the building’s low flow plumbing system.
In the employee kitchen, Equiterre worked with a woodworking school for troubled youth, as part of their social justice mission. The cabinets are made from FSC approved, Quebec made Russian Plywood, and the countertops are made from recycled glass material. The roof supports a 12,000 square foot green garden which cools the building, filters rainwater, and allows a green escape for employees or the kindergarten which takes residence in the building.
As the ambitious company settles into its new home, it has big plans for the future. An educational LCD Screen system will soon flank the lobby, along with a green material library, inviting passersby to come in educate themselves.