jh•architecture Office Design

Challenge Accepted.

Environmental Stewardship on a budget.

Project: Office Design

Cost: $120,000

Size: 110 sq. m.

Status: Completed 2015 with expected Certification in Spring 2016.

Collaborators: Termobuild Canada, Lapas Consulting Engineers Limited.

Client: James Hettinger

jh•architecture’s new studio space in Burlington was designed and built to meet the standards for Petal Certification with the Living Building Challenge 3.0. The Living Building Challenge is a certification program that advocates for proven performance rather than anticipated outcomes. The program is not a check list but a philosophy to understand the inter-relationships of environment, social and economics of how to build. Our studio is expected to be the first Living Building Challenge Petal Certified renovation in Eastern Canada.

To achieve Petal Certification, the studio focused on three performance areas or “petals”; Health & Happiness, Materials and Beauty. These three “petals” allowed us to create a vibrant and engaging workspace. The studio space is both a research lab for future projects and an example of our commitment to environmental advocacy.

Petal research began prior to and during schematic design and was continually updated throughout construction to ensure that all requirements were adhered to by sub-trades involved in the construction. Our firm recognizes that the construction industry is one of the largest producers of waste that is taken to the land fill. To ensure that we did our part, our project demonstrated an on-site sorting of construction materials to minimize the amount of material ordered and received in packing material; over 95% of all construction material was recycled to the local Regional landfill.

The open office concept with a street exposure seeks a greater dialog with the public and invites the passerby to see the activities within. Meetings and design sessions are held around a desk exposing the street to our collaborations. The highlight of the interior space is a commissioned wood panel feature wall made from ash wood that was weakened by an invasive insect and by the 2013 ice storm. Other custom wood furnishings and details are also added throughout the space. A salvaged and refurbished island counter that came from a pharmacy constructed in the mid 1800 is used as an office lunch station.

The indoor environment of the space is a large part of the design; lighting, temperature and air quality are carefully monitored to ensure occupant comfort and health. LED light fixtures and blinds are controlled by Daylight controls creating a smooth and automatic transition of light as daylight levels outside fluctuate. An integrated HVAC system uses the existing precast concrete planks for the distribution and for mass heat storage. Throughout the day heat is released allowing the furnace to run during non-peak hours of electricity. All materials and paints were specified to have zero VOC and indoor air quality testing was completed prior to moving and after nine months to ensure that a healthy indoor environment is being maintained. The studio office space will always remain a work in progress as we continually learn how we can educate and promote for environmental sustainability within current construction practices. Find out more about the Living Building Challenge, please see http://living-future.org/lbc