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New sustainability benchmarks in the new Civic development

Site rendering of the new Civic development.

Caring for the planet improves care for patients and staff

The Ottawa Hospital’s new campus aims to integrate health-sustaining features that reduce stress and improve wellbeing for patients, visitors, staff, and volunteers.

“We are very focused on ‘biophilic design,’ an approach to architecture that seeks to connect the people in buildings to their natural surroundings, as part of our approach to wellness” said Jeff Mosher, Sustainability Specialist at HDR Architecture Associates Inc. “Biophilic design will be incorporated into the hospital through ready access to natural lighting, views of nature, natural interior features, and opportunities for both exercise and respite on the site’s beautiful, natural landscape.”  

The new Civic Development team is applying a hybrid of the most modern sustainability models. The environmental benefit of the high-performance building will include cleaner air, reduced energy demand, use of renewable energy technology, and low-carbon fuel sources. The team is exploring opportunities for a future-proof design that aspires to be “Net-Zero Ready.”  

Jeff Mosher, Sustainability Specialist at HDR Architecture Associates Inc.
Jeff Mosher, Sustainability Specialist at HDR Architecture Associates Inc.

Built to be climate resilient during Ottawa’s cold winters and hot summers, the new Civic will utilize best practice climate modelling to assess risk and design for future probabilities to ensure longevity and performance in a changing world. 

Before construction, the soil and water contamination on the site will be remediated to provide healthy, open green space, as well as areas for vegetation and biodiversity – all in collaboration with the National Capital Commission (NCC), aspiring to not just reduce environmental harm but to enhance the ecological performance of its site.  

The landscaping will feature pollinator and natural habitats, and the creation of a protected wildlife corridor through the site that connects Dow’s Lake and the western Rideau Canal to the Rideau River and the Southern Greenbelt areas is being studied. 

Following Bird Safe Design Guidelines released by both the City of Ottawa and the NCC, the project team is exploring how to incorporate ‘bird friendly’ design standards in all openings of the building envelope, including curtain walls, windows, doors and skylights to minimize the risks to birds and bird collisions with lit buildings at night.

“In every reasonable way possible, the new Civic development intends to be a good neighbour by conforming to, or exceeding, City of Ottawa by-laws and NCC guidelines on noise and light trespass to adjacent neighbourhoods and lands,” said Joanne Read, Executive Vice President of Planning at The Ottawa Hospital. “We aim to reduce environmental harm and to enhance the ecological performance of the site, improving the quality of life for the people, and the wildlife of the National Capital Region.” 

The project management team will also focus on water conservation by reducing potable water consumption, protecting the quality of nearby water resources, and preserving the health of the watershed by infiltrating the rainwater and treating pollutants on site.   

The operation of the new hospital will reduce the impact on existing landfill capacity and regional ecosystems, and the broader environment through the reduction of landfill methane and microplastics. 

“The project team aspires to dramatically reduce construction and operational waste, conserve resources, and prioritize sustainability through recycling, composting, device reprocessing, and new conservation programs that reduce operational waste once destined for landfill,” Joanne added. “Environmental sustainability is a governing principle for the new Civic Campus.”