Windermere’s new net-zero Fire Station 31 celebrated its grand opening last weekend, marking a significant milestone for Edmonton’s push towards sustainability and community safety. Situated in a rapidly growing suburb, the station’s unique design, energy efficiency and commitment to service comes together via an integration of natural and architectural elements.
At the core of Windermere Fire Station 31’s design lies the principle of net-zero energy consumption, whereby the building generates as much energy as it consumes. This feat is achieved through features such as a geothermal field with 35 boreholes, facilitating energy exchange for heating and cooling, and a south-facing sloped roof optimised for capturing the sun’s rays. The roof, adorned with a 382-panel solar array, boasts a rated capacity of 143kW, which not only showcases advanced engineering but also contributes significantly to the station’s self-sufficiency.
Another pillar of Windermere Fire Station 31’s sustainable design is its planned building envelope. Engineered to reach net-zero energy consumption, the envelope features walls with an R-value of 35 (compared with the standard R-20 for typical house walls), coupled with R-50 roof insulation and R-20 under-slab insulation. This envelope ensures minimal heat loss, eradicates thermal bridging, and contributes to the station’s energy-efficient operations.
Honouring its architectural ingenuity, the station was awarded the 2018 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence and is now on the path to securing LEED Gold certification. Windermere Fire Station 31 was brought to life by PCL’s Special Projects division.
“We are proud to partner with the City of Edmonton to deliver its first net-zero building,” said PCL Edmonton’s district manager, Jason Portas. “Our project team was exceptional in bringing this environmentally friendly design to fruition.”
Edmonton commits to net zero
Amid the City of Edmonton’s commitment to halving emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Windermere Fire Station 31 emerges as a vital step towards fulfilling this pledge. The station stands as an example of marrying environmental consciousness and climate resilience, setting a precedent for future construction endeavours in an era marked by the urgency of climate change.
“The new Windermere Station is a great example of how we are getting greener as we grow,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi at the opening. “This needed infrastructure will serve a local community, but also all of Edmonton as we strive to reach our goal of becoming a net-zero corporation by 2040.”
Windermere Fire Station 31 is described as a unity between function, form and sustainability. Through the collaboration of the city, project teams including S2 Architecture and gh3, and PCL Construction’s in-house sustainability team, the station maximises solar energy generation while minimising heat retention. The station’s design, including the strategically inclined south-facing roof with its solar array, has been crafted to optimise solar capture in Edmonton’s geographical context.
Embracing sustainability as a shared goal, the station’s geothermal field – designed and built by a multi-disciplinary team including architectural, civil, construction and geothermal experts – underlines the station’s commitment to energy efficiency.
“This station has been a significant project for Edmonton Fire as we continue to meet the service needs of Edmontonians and our growing city,” said Edmonton Fire Chief Joe Zatylny. “In the coming years, Edmonton will be home to two million people, and this station will play an important role in ensuring the safety of both our growing city and our firefighters.”
Covering an area of 1,520m2 (16,400ft2), Windermere Fire Station 31 features three fire engine bays, offices, sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and a dining area. Its capacity to house up to 12 firefighters promises heightened community safety in the fast-growing south-west of Edmonton.