Office fires are devastating for many reasons. Even in the absence of injury companies organizations often face considerable setbacks when equipment and facilities are damaged or uninhabitable.
A few years ago a fire in an air handling unit building designed and constructed by Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd. destroyed one of the structures buildings air handling units shutting down the system. Luckily for those inside opening windows allowed the building to be operational again in 24 hours. what Manasc Isaac principal Vivian Manasc refers to opening windows as a signature practice of the company.
We focus a lot on the building envelopeâthe exterior walls says Manasc. Manasc Isaac is known for including high-performance glazing and windows that open in their designs. Its a core practice because we make people feel good and healthy when they can open their widows and we want them to enjoy their work environment she says But it is also an interesting way of saving energy while reducing risk for owners.
In the case of the air handling unit fire the company organizations in question wereas able to resume business as usual by simply opening windows once the fire was extinguished instead of relocating or halting business until the air handling system was up and running again.
Manasc says the serendipitous occurrence was a bonus adding that the real value of opening windows is fresh air and sunshine. And of course better windows and walls bring reduced costs as insulation is improved and heating systems get smaller.
A focus on the building envelope is just one of many things that the Edmonton Alberta company is known for. Over the last fifteen years Manasc Isaac has emerged across Canada as a leader in sustainable design. We focus on improving environmental performance of buildings and creating better workplaces because we recognize our responsibility to be a positive contribution to the community says Manasc.
The 50-person company works on both new and existing buildings such as schools libraries town halls colleges universities and health care facilities. Mid-range construction value is $50 million with some projects taking anywhere from three to five years to complete. They are big projects says Manasc But again we want quality buildings that are good for people and good for the Earth.
The architects sustainable design principleals include water conservation storm water management solar orientation energy conservation materials selection and indoor environmental quality. They utilize reclaimed and renewable materials when possible.
One project the Government of Canada Building in Yellowknife was designed to aand has achieved a LEED silver Gold standard. It will includes:
â¢ A green roof
â¢ High-fly ash concrete
â¢ A high-performance building envelope
â¢ Building-integrated photovoltaics
For their renovation of the Shenfield Centre City Hall of in the City of Spruce Grove Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd. also met the LEED silver certified standard. The plans which maximize the use of natural light and improve air quality will have reduced operating costs by 20 percent.
Increasingly the firm is focusing on the re-use and re-imagination of existing buildings as a core aspect of sustainable building practice. With the large aging building stock in North America Manasc Isaac sees the re-skinning of 30-year-old towers and the renovation and re-use of vacant school and commercial buildings as the most important next step in working towards to 2030 Challenge targets â having buildings use only as much energy as they can generate or no net energy by 2030.
The firm faced significant challenges sustainable design opportuntiiesopportunities with another LEED Ssilver standard project the Boreal Centre for Birds near the Town of Slave Lake. The building site has no access to potable water and no connection to sewage or gas. Manasc Isaac solved addressed these challenges these problems by constructing designing a system that captures water from the buildings roof and purifies it on site. Heat pumps and a geothermal field provide heating and cooling for the building.
An interior design group also works with clients to select plants lights carpet paint and other materials with Manasc Isaacs commitment to the environment in mind. Healthy materials with fewer chemicals can improve workplace productivity and lower maintenance costs. Services in the interior design group include space planning plant selection renovation custom furniture design and materials selection.
To produce their progressive and innovative designs Manasc Isaac collaborates heavily with clients and communities by embracing integrated design. We decided very early to involve communities and owners as well as engineers and builders in our design process because we realized that if we integrate design we have good engagement with communities and create good synergy between our buildings and systems to achieve sustainable results Manasc explains.
Manasc says that her companys work is informed by Northern and First Nations people who are involved in the discussion about a buildings purpose from the projects inception. We discuss how it is expected to work and how we can make it work without costing the Earthearth she says. Manasc estimates that over 50 people participate in the discussions a series of workshops for owners communities engineers planners landscape architects industrial designers and interior designers. All of these people are part of our team from the very beginning. They hear our conversations and can contribute input says Manasc. The talks often last a full day and are planned periodically until a project is completed.
Manasc says that response to integrated design has been overwhelmingly positive from owners and communities alike. Communities enjoy the opportunity for involvement and clients and engineers see how they can contribute to the larger success of their environment she says.
Consistent and cutting-edge work in sustainable design has brought many awards to Manasc and her associates. The Water Centre building resulted recently received numerous prizes including a in the Design Exchange Award the Emerald Award and the Prairie Design Award. Manasc Isaacs Greenstone Government of Canada Building also received the RAIC Innovation Award and several other accolades and was the first LEED gold Gold building in Canadas Arctic. In fact the Boreal Center for Bird Conservation the St. John Ambulance Building The Hinton Government Centre and seven other structures have all received industry prizessignificant peer and public recognition in the last 15 years.
Manasc Isaac Architects Ltd. is indeed a groundbreaking company with several milestones to their name. The first LEED silver building in Edmonton and the first LEED certified building in Alberta were both Manasc projects.
Manasc Isaac believes that their projects are successful and interesting because they fully explore clients goals involve local communities and focus on improving the environment. We look for as much synergy as we can find says Manasc and we always try to make peopleâand the Earthâbetter.