The Hélène Desmarais Building has integrated sustainable development principles from the earliest stages of its collaborative design and will continue doing so long after it has opened for business. It is a space for innovation and a model of sustainability that also helps to bolster the collective influence of a strong network of community members.
A collaborative design approach
The design of the Hélène Desmarais Building included a series of discussions with neighbours and the local community.
- Collaboration with the St. Patrick Parish Fabrique
- Discussions with neighbours (2016 to 2021)
- Co-design workshop (January 2017)
- Consultations with various authorities and specialists
Carefully planned architectural integration
- Dimensions planned to enhance the built and landscaped environment of the block where the Basilic is located, with attentions to the concerns expressed by the St. Patrick Parish Fabrique
- Archaeological inventory of the site and the project to commemorate its history
An exemplary building in terms of sustainable development
The Hélène Desmarais Building has integrated sustainable development principles from the earliest stages of its collaborative design.
Fritted-glass windows help save energy by improving thermal insulation in the building.
Over a third of the wall surface area is windows, creating a pleasant environment that is in harmony with the outside world.
The layout of the large staff lounge promotes well-being by encouraging interaction across all departments.
The building was designed to harmonize with the Basilica’s landscaping, with consideration for the concerns expressed during discussions with the community.
Excavations were carried out before construction began as part of an archaeological inventory of the site, which is a significant area in Montréal’s history.
The project respects provincial sustainable development requirements and has been registered with the Canada Green Building Council with a view to obtaining LEED Gold certification.
LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design) certification is awarded to a “green” building, as a way of enhancing the well-being of occupants and the building’s environmental and economic performance through proven and innovative practices, standards, and technologies.
Some LEED features
- 20% of construction materials with recycled content (by value)
- 30% of construction materials locally sourced (by value)
- Materials with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions
- 92% of worksite waste reused or recycled
- Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, with detectors, to cut related electricity use in half
- Windows cover nearly 36% of wall surfaces and are positioned in such a way to create a pleasant environment connected to the outside
- Building envelope 30% more efficient than the reference envelope
- Geothermal system consisting of 30 wells, each 150 metres deep
Annual reduction of greenhouse gases (compared to reference level)
Estimated energy savings (compared to reference level)
Related annual savings
Landscaping to boost biodiversity
- Gradual restoration of the initial canopy over the first few years of the building’s opening: new trees, shrubs, and perennials planted
- Greened walkways, benches, and outdoor terraces
- 3 green roofs
These features and the elimination of the outdoor parking lot help to reduce a large heat island.
Promoting sustainable mobility
The site is just a few minutes’ walk from the main office buildings downtown. It is easily accessible thanks to various public transit, active transportation, and carsharing options.
- Square-Victoria – OACI metro station, Central Station, numerous bus stops and the upcoming Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM)
- BIXI bicycle-sharing stations, bike racks; access to showers and change rooms
- Dedicated parking spots for carsharing electric vehicles, and charging stations
Sustainable in our building… and in our hearts
In addition to the initial collaborative design initiatives, HEC Montréal asked one of its professional teams to define a strategic sustainable development project for the Hélène Desmarais Building. This led to a broader consultation involving some local community players from the Faubourg Saint-Laurent neighbourhood, working closely with the Centre for Sustainable Development. The goal is to make the new building a welcoming and pleasant place open to the community, but also a forum for dialogue.