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Wilkinson Project: East Port’s new green building

The Wilkinson Project, a Dartmouth, N.S. warehouse that’s part of the Canada Green Building Counc...

The Wilkinson Project, a Dartmouth, N.S. warehouse that’s part of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)’s zero carbon building pilot program, has signed its first tenant ahead of its anticipated spring 2018 opening.

The Wilkinson Project in Dartmouth, N.S., being built by East Port Properties, is part of the CaGBC Net-Zero Carbon Buildings pilot project.

The Wilkinson Project in Dartmouth, N.S., being built by East Port Properties, is part of the CaGBC zero carbon buildings pilot project. (Rendering courtesy East Port Properties)

“The industrial real estate market in Canada is a huge opportunity that LEED was missing simply because it is difficult to certify a spec building when you don’t know how it will be used,” said Judy Wall, president of East Port Properties Limited, which owns The Wilkinson Project.

“We found a way to manage some of the energy costs of warehousing through simple changes — a better building envelope, more efficient mechanical equipment and automation of mechanical and lighting systems — all of which benefit tenant costs.”

East Port believes the real estate industry can have a major impact on lowering greenhouse gas emissions through reducing energy use.

It’s on a mission to educate tenants and brokers about how added costs in making warehouses more environmentally friendly, which are covered by increased rents, can be offset by lower utility bills.

Features of The Wilkinson Project

The Wilkinson Project is located on Wilkinson Avenue in Dartmouth and will include five multi-tenant warehouses totalling approximately 300,000 square feet.

The buildings will be equipped with windows and skylights for maximum use of daylight, LED lights with motion sensors, and the use of automation and energy-efficient ventilation systems.

The first 60,000-square-foot warehouse will feature a tight and well-insulated building envelope, heat recovery ventilation and a central in-floor heating system supplied by air-to-water heat pumps with a peak-load natural gas boiler. A net-metered solar photovoltaic system will offset the cost of both fuel sources to provide the tenant zero (or near zero) heating costs for typical building use.

Future warehouses will keep same standards

The future warehouses will keep the same standards, according to Wall. She said East Port might also try to achieve net zero energy use in different ways as new regulations are put in place and new technologies are developed.

“The challenging part of this is not about the engineering, it’s about the regulations in place as to how much electricity can be generated and sold to the grid in Nova Scotia,” Wall said, “and how to set up the whole project within those currently regulated limits and still have it make financial sense.

“What is unique in our approach to developing a warehouse is our engagement with the tenants from the design phase through to occupancy in order to assist them in lowering their costs.

“We don’t just lease a box and walk away for five or 10 years until renewal, we keep the engagement throughout the term because the goal of the owners is to have a sustainable asset that delivers everyday value to the tenants.”

TFI International to be first tenant

Montreal-based transportation and logistics company TFI International Inc. is the first tenant to sign on for The Wilkinson Project, taking 30,000 square feet.

The CaGBC’s zero carbon building standard is Canada’s first green building program to make carbon emissions the key indicator for building performance. There are 15 other projects, aside from The Wilkinson Project, involved in the pilot program.

Participants have access to a group of professionals for advice and guidance. CaGBC will also hold quarterly technical sessions with participants in order to provide networking and learning opportunities, as well as a platform to discuss the challenges and possible solutions involved in reaching net zero carbon.

“Awareness is always the first step toward understanding how to make things better,” said Wall.

Other green East Port developments

Dartmouth-based East Port has developed millions of square feet of office, commercial, research, industrial warehouse, parkade and recreational facilities, primarily in the Halifax and St. John’s, N.L. areas, since 1981. It’s also had a long-standing commitment to sustainability and reducing the environmental footprints of its buildings and activities.

East Port’s 351 Water Street recently became the first LEED Gold-certified building in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was also the first new office building constructed in St. John’s in 25 years and the first in the province to be heated and cooled by sea water.

Beclin Business Park, in Mount Pearl, N.L. is the first business park in the province to be LEED-certified. It’s also the first LEED-certified multi-tenant industrial campus in Canada.

“That’s a whole lot of green thinking, including natural lighting, high insulation values, managed energy and recycled building materials,” said Wall. “The Beclin Business Park was built in less than five years and has added 250,000 square feet of industrial space to the market.”

Bluefrog 130, located in Dartmouth’s Bluefrog Business Campus, won its fourth straight Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) LEAP Award in the “Building Performance, Low Energy Leader – Medium Building” category in May.

“Bluefrog 130 is one of four low-rise buildings in the Bluefrog Business Campus built for and around people, with daylighting, superior indoor air quality and efficient energy use inside the buildings, and surrounded by walking trails, wildlife, lakes and a community garden on the grounds of the campus,” said Wall.

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