PCL’s innovative approach to sustainable construction was put to the test when, using low-impact construction methods, the team converted an aging building into a model of sustainability. Here’s how our team of experts revitalized Winnipeg’s Richardson Interpretive Centre. 

Originally built in 1983, the interpretive centre is an interactive facility where visitors can explore environmental science and wildlife conservation. With the building envelope declining in energy efficiency due to Winnipeg’s harsh climate and damage caused by the local squirrel population, a retrofit presented the perfect opportunity to invest in sustainable, climate-resilient building practices.

PCL performed demolition and construction of a new office layout and programming space. The retrofit included the replacement of the roof and all exterior bird strike windows and doors, upgrades to the building envelope – including installation of outbound low-embodied carbon insulation, new cladding and an air barrier to increase the wall R-value – and major upgrades to both mechanical and electrical systems including the addition of a geothermal system.

Integrating sustainable construction methods allowed PCL to meet the client’s budget and schedule expectations while demonstrating the power of innovative solutions. Our team of experts factored in higher up-front costs for sustainable solutions and came up with an innovative plan to salvage approximately 80% of the existing roof insulation and previous cedar wood cladding for repurposing. Approximately 2,500 square feet of existing interior shiplap wood cladding was salvaged and reinstalled as part of the updated interior finishes, including all window and door casings. The existing exterior cedar shiplap cladding was salvaged and used in the construction of the front kiosk. Additionally, several doors, door frames and millwork pieces were salvaged from local demolition projects and integrated into the overall design and construction, further reducing the embodied carbon footprint of the project.

Following the renovations, the Richardson Interpretive Centre has experienced a 36% reduction in electricity consumption. Fossil fuel-free geothermal systems heat and cool the building, while an energy recovery ventilator pulls heat from recycled air to reduce energy consumption. 

The retrofit is an exciting first step in the multi-year FortWhyte Forever development program, which will demonstrate to people across the country that we can all be sustainable leaders in our communities. The completed project provides visitors with a high-performance building in which to share unforgettable experiences while building sustainable relationships with nature.

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