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World's Most Energy Efficient Building

Our press release of this landmark building:
MHO_Press_Release_May_2016.pdf (1.9MB)

Energy Self Sufficiency

Christopher Simmonds Architect Inc has been commissioned to design the Madawaska Highlands Observatory Visitors Centre. Using a true Zen approach, in tune with nature, the project is designed to be a zero-carbon and a zero-impact building. The 30,000 square foot building will be off-grid, the largest of its kind in the world, producing 100% of its energy from renewables, including photovoltaics for electric power, solar thermal for heating and hot water and ground sourced heat pumps for cooling, heating and hot water.

With one million watt-hours of battery storage, the facility can operate completely off the grid even in very heavy overcast and the shortest days of winter. The innovative building design is ultra-efficient, maximizing the use of ambient daylight, piping it to key areas of the building, using radiant heating and cooling, chilled water cooling and room-by-room CO2 triggered heat exchanges for maximum efficiency. With the use of LED lighting, ultra efficient appliances, HVAC, ultra-low emissivity triple pane windows and highly integrated IT over every aspect of the building, this facility will set a new precedent in building construction.

Collecting rain water with a hundred thousand gallon cistern and processing its grey water and using composting toilets, the facility will not require a well or septic bed.
In every sense of the word, it is the most efficient and environmentally pure commercial building in the world. It will be built to LEED Platinum, the worlds' highest construction standard and meet the Living Building Challenge, the next generation of construction and energy efficiency excellence.

This is even more pronounced when you realize that no amenities have been spared and with over 200,000 people per year expected to visit, this building is a landmark of energy self-sufficiency.

3D animation of the Visitors Centre.

How we achieved this:

— 500 kW of roof mounted solar electric panels --> 100% of our electrical needs
— 2,000 SQ FT solar thermal panel --> 100% of our hot water needs including heating
— Ground sourced heat pumps --> 100% of our heating and cooling needs
— Floor radiant heating and cooling
— 1 MWh battery bank --> for 100% off-grid operation
— Rain water collection --> 100,000 gallon cistern, supplying 100% of our water needs
— Grey water processing
— Composting toilets
— Innovative building design, minimizing energy requirements
— LED lighting, with intensity and color control
— Ultra-efficient HVAC
— Ultra efficient appliances
— Chilled water cooling
— Room by room CO2 triggered heat exchangers
— Efficient use of ambient lighting, bringing in outside sunlight to critical areas
— Ultra low emissivity triple pane windows
— Highly integrated IT for control and monitoring of energy production and usage
— LEED Platinum construction. Worlds' highest construction standard
— Living Building Challenge, next generation building construction standard excellence


©2017 The Madawaska Highlands Observatory, Canada.