Ottawa Centre Eco-district: Overview

From BioRegional North America’s Website, a peek at the early planning for this District initiative – an area which sits right beside the Historic Chaudiere Eco-District (now there’s some additional possibilities…). At MTBA we have just discovered the wonderful work by BioRegional, a group that includes heros and gurus like Bob Berkebile and Doug Farr, and colleagues like Jason MacClennan of Living Building and Scott Demark of BuildGreen Solutions. The Ottawa Centre Initiative group includes colleague James McNeil, PP of CaGBC ORC. BioRegional’s Canadian office is in Ottawa; their international HQ is in none other than the infamous BEDZED, the English green building catalyst project.

Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict Initiative, which aims to turn downtown Ottawa into a laboratory for sustainable programs and energy-saving approaches that might someday be rolled out across the entire city. The emerging program will seek to intensify and green Ottawa’s downtown core, building on the neighbourhood’s wealth of existing and proposed green assets, including: 30 certified green buildings in the core; the potential to advance green energy infrastructure during the construction of incoming LRT routes; a fantastic set of proposed new bike lanes under the city’s Downtown Moves study; and a growing local food movement, including a large community garden and numerous Savour Ottawa restaurants. The opportunity to build on these existing assets is monumental. The EcoDistrict will help stimulate innovation that will help local businesses save money, create jobs, and care for the planet. Opportunities to innovate range from electric car-charging stations to sharing district energy and incorporating ecoConcierges in buildings to reduce the footprint of occupants. For further background on this exciting initiative, please read this excerpt from Hilary Samuel’s article entitled Business, NGOs, Community Groups, find Common Ground,” in the Summer 2012 edition of THE VOICE: Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Magazine.

  • Between five million and 11 million square feet of office space could become available in the downtown core over the next several years due to federal relocation and downsizing. McNeil believes this will create an opportunity to upgrade more of Ottawa’s existing building stock to LEED or other sustainability standards. The amount of green certified office space in Ottawa has already increased by 375 per cent in the past two years. If this trend were to continue with new investments in buildings upgrades, Ottawa could become more attractive to companies with CSR (corporate social responsibility) policies that require environmental sustainability to be a consideration when selecting office space. “The potential is to link to the economic development of the city and provide places where these guys want to be.” McNeil said. “Sustainability is good for business, bottom line.” The Ottawa Centre Eco District project would lever existing and planned green infrastructure, including more than 30 certified green buildings in the city core, several green rooftops, and plans for the LRT. The intention would be to create a virtuous cycle by encouraging other organizations to follow suit with their own sustainability initiatives. “This is generally a profile enhancer.” Connelly said, “It could also provide a method and an opportunity for business to get on board. Many companies don’t know how to get started. This project could provide a toolkit for business to easily tag into.” But a shared vision is crucial to make such a project successful. “How we conduct our affairs will fall out of that,” McNeil said. “We need a shared common vision from key stakeholders at every level – from top corporate CEOs to bottom up community support.”