Great green building

There’s a green giant sleeping in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood — a 25,000-square-metre Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and the first retail building in Canada to comply with C2000 Green Building Standards.

The standards, released in 2000, promote energy efficiency, minimal environmental impact and the health and comfort of the building’s occupants.

According to MEC, worldwide building construction consumes three billion tonnes of raw materials annually. Similarly, the construction of 185-square-metre home can contribute up to 3,600 kilograms of waste to a landfill.

Canadian Geographic Education recently toured Ottawa two-storey MEC building to see first-hand how this retail space used reclaimed materials to cut down on waste and energy consumption.

The building was converted from a 40-year-old Chinese grocery store. Remnants of the grocery store, like the original flooring and steel supports, have been kept and re-used. By weight, 75 per cent of the old store was incorporated into the new space.

The floor on the second level incorporates wood salvaged from a barn on the Bruce Peninsula in Georgian Bay, Ont. Each piece of wood needed to be stress-tested to before it was installed. The wooden beams that support the roof are made from Douglas fir that was also reclaimed, this time from lost log booms at the bottom of the St. Lawrence River.

Of all the materials used to build MEC Ottawa, 80 per cent came from local sources, no more than 500 kilometres away.

Watch the video above for more of MEC Ottawa’s sustainable and energy-efficient features.