To achieve a high level of energy efficiency while maintaining occupant comfort, Manitoba Hydro Place maximizes the use of passive energy technologies while minimizing the use of active energy systems.
Passive systems (i.e. south-facing winter gardens, natural daylighting, and the solar chimney) take advantage of the environment and natural processes to reduce energy usage. Active systems (i.e. dimmable, programmable fluorescent lighting) help maximize the effectiveness of passive systems and supplement them as required.
In a typical office tower, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) is a combined system, where the ventilation air is warmed or cooled to the desired interior temperature. A large portion of the ventilation air is often recirculated through the building to save energy, which may result in a stale, stuffy environment.
The 115-metre-high column rises above the top of the building on the north side. It is key to the passive ventilation system of Manitoba Hydro Place, relying on the natural "stack effect" of a chimney to create a draw of air out of the building.
In winter, exhaust air is drawn to the bottom of the solar chimney. Heat recovered from this exhaust air is used to warm the parkade and to preheat the incoming cold air in the south winter gardens. In summer months, warm air is exhausted directly out of the solar chimney.
Six large water features provide more than just decoration in the building. Four of the water features are located in the building's south winter gardens, and 3 are an impressive 22 m (72 ft) tall with water flowing down 280 mylar cables. The water is collected at the bottom of each feature for reuse.
The water features humidify or dehumidify the air in the building depending on the season. During the summer months, when the water is colder than the air surrounding it, the water absorbs additional moisture, lowering the humidity of air entering the workspaces. In winter, the water is warmer than the air in the winter gardens. This allows moisture to evaporate more easily into the air, providing humidification.
Two smaller water features regulate humidity in the main gallery. These features have water cascading down a granite surface, replicating the spillway of a hydroelectric generating station.
The design of Manitoba Hydro Place is proof that an extremely energy efficient and sustainable building can also be one that provides an unsurpassed work environment for its occupants. Staff moving to 360 Portage Avenue will enjoy one of the most healthy, vibrant, and productive workspaces in the world, while also contributing to the revitalization of downtown Winnipeg.
The design of the building is where it all begins. The expansive glass curtain walls on the east and west facades provide an airy workspace full of natural daylight. Operable windows on the interior curtain wall, combined with exterior wall vents controlled by the Building Management System, provide employees with a great degree of control for their own ventilation requirements during spring and fall.
Even during winter and summer, the building is supplied with 100 per cent fresh air, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, improving productivity and health. State-of-the-art workstations and ample meeting spaces ensure that employees are able to both collaborate and work in isolation as required.
Stairwells linking floors in the winter gardens provide a degree of vertical connectivity, creating neighbourhoods of work that contribute to enhanced employee productivity. And the fact that more divisions and departments are now being brought together in one location will also reduce travel time to meetings and help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The end result? Higher productivity, lower costs, environmental benefits, and better service for our customers.