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May 2014

Teaching old buildings
new tricks

Making existing buildings more energy efficient, reducing their water consumption, and improving occupant comfort is the course curriculum of Smith + Andersen’s Building Assessment and Improvement Group (BAI Group). This highly focused group works closely with owners to assess their needs and implement design solutions to meet their objectives. And, with the existing built environment consuming 30% of North Americas total energy consumption, 60% of North America’s electrical consumption, and 5 billion gallons of potable water a day just to flush toilets [1] – these buildings make good students. Teaching existing buildings “sustainability” not only offers payback, it can attract environmentally conscious tenants – and S+A’s BAI Group helps owners grade their buildings through such programs as LEED® EB-O&M, BOMA-BESt, or Green Globes.

Every building is a new learning experience and Chris Pappas leads the group on this process of discovery. 
[1] Reference: USGBC and CaGBC

Q&A with Chris Pappas 
Building Assessment and
Improvement Group Leader

What is the S+A BAI approach?

It starts with us looking at your building as if it were our own and then deciding how best to make improvements. Of course, we need to learn and understand the owner’s needs (and, more importantly, constraints like budget on occupant schedules) an this initial assessment is an important principle on which to base our recommendations. Site reviews to assess the existing conditions are key to setting a solid foundation for any improvement recommendations. And, as the complexity of projects grow, the BAI Group engages the appropriate internal specialists from S+A to meet the project needs with confidence.

Are any buildings better candidates for assessment and improvement than others?

Certainly older (20+ years) buildings can offer better return on investment. Life cycle is an important factor, but it's important to consider that no building is too small and no project too large. An engineering assessment can reveal and resolve operational inefficiencies even with minimal to no capital infrastructure investments at all. 

What are the benefits?

The benefits are significant and they will be building/owner specific. Reducing operational costs (e.g. water and energy) and improving indoor environmental conditions for the occupant improves the “triple bottom line”. Improving the sustainability “grade” of an existing building gives it a new life in a competitive market by attracting tenants. The assessment and improvement process can address redundancy, increase tenant density, address Code requirements, or simply replace non-operational equipment. The S+A BAI Group will also educate owners on incentives that are available to help offset some of the expenditures.

What else is important in the assessment and improvement process?

Every building is different and the team’s focus has to be customized. Your assessment team has to be able to customize its service to meet the needs. In addition to mechanical and electrical engineering, S+A has specialists in sustainability, building automation systems (controls), lighting, communications, electronic safety and security, and audio visual.

Our sustainable design firm, Footprint, provides services in energy modelling, comprehensive sustainability rating system facilitation and management (such as LEED© EB-O&M) as well as measurement and verification. Whether you are considering a boiler replacement, electrical service upgrade or a full building retrofit, you can be assured that our team will bring the required expertise.

Hoffmann-La Roche
7070 Mississauga Road
Mississauga, ON
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LED Lighting Retrofit
Ricoh Coliseum
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Mechanical Retrofit
1670 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON 
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Exterior Wall Lighting
U of T - Massey College
Toronto, ON 
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Lighting Retrofit
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Toronto, ON 
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