A 53-year-old commercial building in Ottawa recently attained LEED Platinum certification, no small feat considering the building’s age, say representatives from the investment management company that owns it.
The downtown building, located at 275 Slater St. just south of Parliament Hill at the corner of Kent St., is home to mostly private businesses in the law, insurance and HR sectors, as well as some federal government agencies. According to Sam Barbieri, SVP of portfolio management and deputy fund manager of LaSalle Investment Management, which has over 1,400 properties globally, including 12 million sq ft in Canada, the 230,000 sq ft Slater St. building received new HVAC and lighting systems, and upgraded elevator controls, to attain LEED Platinum. But given the building’s age and the fact that it maintained 88% tenancy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the upgrades required meticulous planning.
“You couldn’t do an upgrade like this all at once, especially with an occupied building, so it was planned over a number of years,” he said. “If you replace the HVAC system, there are a number of sub-components like supply fans for corridors you would replace. Some of the other major building systems, like elevator controls, were also done car by car.”
The upgrades gave 275 Slater St. an energy score of 87%, and while it aimed for Gold certification, Barbieri says LaSalle overachieved, which, for a building that’s over five decades old, isn’t easy to do. The lighting system replacement program, which began a few years ago, brought in LED lighting on some floors and T8 tube lighting, while the water closet has been made more efficient.
“You always have engineering challenges with older buildings, space confinement challenges,” said Barbieri.
Arguably the building’s biggest achievement is maintaining 88% occupancy during the pandemic, and much like other large REITs, LaSalle is going to implement WELL health standards in response to the pandemic.
“This is one of the properties in which we’re pursuing WELL health certification,” said Elena Alschuler, LaSalle’s Americas head of sustainability. “We’re rolling out an initiative throughout our North American and multifamily properties and it validates a lot of great practices we put in place during COVID.”