Track 2: Sustainability and Conservation of Built Heritage in the Americas
This unsolicited proposal for a “deep green” rehabilitation of the Official Residence of the Canadian Prime Minister creates a showcase of savoire-faire, “green” technologies and heritage conservation approach to illustrate the nexus of, and interconnectedness of cultural and natural conservation. It makes best use of existing resources, and, through its new interventions, conservation and sustainability treatments, takes the property to a zero-carbon level of environmental responsibility, while protecting heritage value.
As part of a national dialogue on the high costs of deferred maintenance, this proposal was developed in response to certain media coverage which called for dumping the venerable but vulnerable historic house into landfill. Instead, this proposal found the value in the existing, leveraged embodied energy and embodied carbon, and returned the place to what it was primarily intended to be, through all its years of changes over time: A single-family home. By restoring the original use and removing the accumulated additional requirements of an Official Meeting Place/Residence, this Federally Recognized Heritage Building rehabilitation plan avoids significant alterations and loss of historic fabric. To provide for the growing list of “official functions”, the 1970s pool building (non-heritage) is dismantled and the parts reused to construct a new nearby pavilion which interprets contemporary Canadian design in a sympathetic way to the historic place, through scale, materials and form. The existing building is thoughtfully rehabilitated, while interjecting a triad of new interventions (that replace/reinterpret previous lost or degraded character-defining elements) that help the historic building better relate to the complementary new structure.
Rehabilitation of the historic home and a new official wing will feature a “whole building ecology” approach, guiding a selection of strategies which work together to regenerate the natural environment and enhance the heritage values. This presentation will focus on the 24 preservation and 24 sustainability strategies which include: working with the historic design intent and inherently sustainable features; installing onsite renewable energy systems where appropriate; maintaining landscape elements to moderate the microclimate; capitalizing on past interventions; rainwater collection and greywater recycling.
The proposal goes beyond the straight real estate or government requirements investment, to one of great educational, cultural, environmental, conservation and ‘Canada branding’ value. That multiple investment is one that really pays back in very big dividends, far beyond just housing the Prime Minister’s family and official functions.
Standards guiding the project design include:
- “Building Resilience: Practical Guidelines for the Sustainable Rehabilitation of Buildings in Canada” (MTBA Associates, 2016);
- “The Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada” (Parks Canada, 2011);
- The Zero Carbon Building Standard (Canada Green Building Council, 2017).