A Smart Building

April 14, 2003
Because the recently completed BC Gas building is a vital operations center, rigorous standards were employed in its design and construction. But merely rigorous was not enough for the Canadian utility company. Their standards incorporated strict environmental practices as well as sensitivity to the people who would work in the facility.

As a result, says Warren Shott, BC Gas facilities manager; “it’s a smart building. Because of the construction strength—using architectural-grade concrete and rebar­­­—it is designed to serve as a post-disaster facility. This same construction has high insulation value, too, so we save energy. The building cools down easily at night in warmer months and retains heat comfortably in the winter.”

Light shields over the exterior east-west windows are another clever use of design, exciting both visually and functionally. The gleaming, high-tech fixtures look a little like giant sunglasses—which, Shott says, is basically how they function.

Inside, light shelves on the southern-exposed windows bounce sunlight deep into the interior. “The people working inside this building are never more than 20 feet from a natural light source,” Shott notes.

The building’s lighting configurations, along with numerous construction elements—the four-atrium structure, open floor-plan, and natural ventilation—all contribute to substantial energy savings while enhancing employee comfort and efficiency.

The intelligent design and far-reaching thought that characterize the structure’s architecture extend to its interior as well. “We wanted an atmosphere of casual interaction,” Shott says. To address this need, interior designers Seeton Shinkewski Design Group Ltd. designed an open plan, establishing workstations and enclaves with comfortable mobile furniture where informal meetings could take place. Varied color schemes and lighting patterns help define these areas.

The work and meeting spaces are further defined by the carpeting. “We really like the carpet,” Shott says. “We did our homework—it didn’t take long to figure out that carpet tile was the way to go.”

The 20,000 sq. yds. of carpet tile covers raised-access flooring, which conceals the building’s cables. Removing and replacing a square of modular carpet is a simple process, a decided benefit in a busy office building. “I like the day-to-day practicality of working with tile,” Shott says, “and everyone loves the colors—changing colors at various places helps with way-finding.”

He adds that a major selling point for Shaw Contract’s modular tile was the complete sustainability of the product: the Eco Solution Q® nylon face and EcoWorx PVC-free thermoplastic backing can be recycled into more nylon face and more backing. “We take the environment quite seriously,” he says. “The company has a very strict environmental policy and very high standards.”

And finally, the clincher in favor of Shaw Contract was its service. Shott has great confidence in his reps, Meryl Dyson and John Vreugde, and the flooring contractor they worked with, Maxwell Floors. “I knew working with Shaw Contract meant the carpet was going to be right on time, no problem,” he says. “There was a delicate balance to the timing of everything, but we didn’t have to worry about the carpet. Two thumbs up to Meryl, John, and their team!”

From carpet to light shelves, soft movable seating to reinforced concrete—the elements all add up to making the BC Gas Operations Centre exactly what Warren Shott says it is: a smart building. With a distinctly human touch.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...

The Benefits of Migrating from Analog to DMR Two-Way Radios

Are you still using analog two-way radios? Download this white paper and discover the simple and cost-effective migration path to digital DMR radios that deliver improved audio...