The most energy-efficient apartment building ever built in Manitoba is under construction in south St. Vital.
Phase I of Sherwood Development Ltd.'s the Enclave on St. Mary's Road is the first multi-unit residential building to receive a Power Smart designation under Manitoba Hydro's Power Smart New Building Program, which was launched in the spring of 2011.
To achieve such a designation, a new building must be at least 33 per cent more energy-efficient than a similar building that meets the minimum requirements of the Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 1997 (MNECB 97).
The previous Power Smart Design Standard was 25 per cent more energy-efficient, and Manitoba Hydro said several local multi-family complexes have met that standard.
However, the Enclave is the first to meet the new 33 per cent standard. It exceeds it by eight per cent, said Cory Young, a marketing specialist with the Power Smart New Building Program.
"That's a great achievement," Young said. "It will be a very energy-efficient building."
Young said the bulk of the energy savings is achieved by having a superior building envelope that features more insulation in the foundation and building walls, in the floor of the underground parkade and in the roof. It also has energy-efficient windows, patio doors and lighting systems.
"We generally preach starting with the building envelope," Young said. "That's the primary part of what makes a building energy-efficient."
However, Sherwood Developments is also installing a special heat-exchange system that reclaims heat and coolness (depending on the season) from fresh air as it enters the building, and uses that to heat and cool the building. It also does the same with the indoor air that's being exhausted out of the building.
"So it's a combination of all of these things," Young said.
Fausto Pereira, president of Winnipeg-based Sherwood Developments, said it wasn't easy coming up with a building design that would produce that kind of energy efficiency.
"We spent a lot of time working with Manitoba Hydro and with our own engineers to come up with the right heating and cooling, window, and building-envelope systems... " Pereira said. "It was sort of a multi-pronged process."
At $29 million, the 162-unit, four-storey, Phase I building will cost about $500,000 more to build than if Sherwood had gone with standard energy-saving features, Pereira said. But it will also generate an extra $35,000 a year in energy savings.
Pereira said all eight of the multi-family buildings Sherwood has built in Winnipeg during the last 15 years are above average in terms of their energy efficiency. But not to the same extent as the Enclave.
It started off by switching to triple-pane windows with argon gas and a low-E film on the glass. And then it started add more energy-efficient features, culminating with this building and its special heat-exchange system.
"Each time we built another building we pushed the envelope farther and farther," Pereira said. "And this time, we decided to push it all the way."
The Phase I building under construction at 2000 St. Mary's Rd. is the first of three -- a total of 440 units -- that will be built as part of the Enclave development. The development is geared to tenants 50 years of age and older.
Pereira said the company will work with Manitoba Hydro to see if it can find ways to achieve even greater energy efficiencies with the next two buildings.
"We are committed to energy savings and reducing our footprint on the environment. So all of our (future) buildings will achieve this sort of energy efficiency, or better."
He said an added benefit is that the first building in the Enclave will also emit 540 fewer tonnes of CO2 gas per year than a standard building of that size. That's equal to taking 108 cars off the road each year.
He thinks that will also help attract tenants to the building.
"I think people care to know that they're living in a building that is energy-efficient and is good for the environment."
The one- and two-bedroom suites will feature higher-end finishings -- such as oversized windows, granite countertops, laminate flooring, and a patio or balcony -- and will range from 820 square feet to 1,000 square feet. The one-bedroom units will rent for $1,150 per month and the two-bedrooms for $1,425.
Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.
HERE are some of the energy-saving features of the Enclave:
-- Triple-pane windows with argon gas and a low-E film on the glass
-- Double-pane patio doors, also with argon gas and low-E film
-- R27 insulation in the exterior walls, instead of the standard R20
-- R40 insulation in the roof, instead of R30
-- R40 in the foundation walls and in the floor of the underground garage, instead of R10
-- A heat-exchange system that recovers about 80 per cent of the heat or coolness from the fresh air being drawn into the building, and the air being exhausted out
-- sources: Manitoba Hydro and Sherwood Developments Ltd.