The Joggins Fossil Centre, a 1200 m2 building on the bluffs above Joggins Beach, forms the gateway for visitors to the finest carboniferous fossil site in the world. It consists of a mix of administrative / office spaces and special purpose spaces including museum, research lab, exhibition hall and a multipurpose room.

The facility was built upon a brownfield site reclaimed from the mining industry. Much of the remediation happened on site and there is an on-going landscaping programme, featuring species native to the Acadian Forest region, to enable the eventual naturalisation of the site and reduction of the impact of visitors to the local environment and community.

Scope of Services Rendered, project objectives, constraints:

This project involved the complete design – from concept through to post occupancy on site reviews – of a state of the art LEED Gold facility. The facility includes a mix of administrative and special purpose spaces. The team provided full mechanical and electrical design and contract administration services as well as specialized professional services including energy modelling, daylighting simulations, value engineering, cost planning and full M&E commissioning.

Sustainable Design:

Sustainability was a project goal from the start. Difficulty in securing operational funding - as opposed to capital funding - often poses the greatest danger for small interpretive centres. To help alleviate this as much as possible, tight control on building size, ease of maintenance and reliance on alternate energy sources were identified as significant design drivers.

The building has many innovative features that help keep energy and resource use to a minimum:

  • A 50 kilowatt wind turbine generator
  • A 3.3 kilowatt photovoltaic array and inverter
  • A solar heating system to preheat hot water, thereby reducing the building’s ecological footprint.
  • Passive solar heat and light collection by special glazing units.
  • A green roof, which minimises heat loss, improved insulation and assists with water collection. The facility uses the water from the roof run-off to flush their toilets and water their plants.
  • Electronic self-closing faucets, waterless urinals, use of dual flush valve water closets and the use of rainwater for sewage conveyance have resulted in a facility which uses 57.23% less water than a comparable building.

Design challenges, creative and innovative design solutions:

The client was clear from the onset – they wanted an energy efficient structure to minimize the long term operational costs but the technologies incorporated had to be cost effective and low maintenance. The technologies had to be part of the solution – not part of the problem. As well, these elements could not detract from the facility’s core function.

The team worked in concert with the entire design team on Joggins to provide holistic design solutions to achieve a similar goal. The Joggins facility was the first in Nova Scotia to be certified LEED Gold and has achieved an energy consumption usage of 65.4% less than the MNECB.

In order to achieve this, a number of technologies and approaches were tested and modelled, not everything made the cut however. The team worked closely with all members of the design team to provide a truly integrated design and all of our solutions were vetted through the users and project stakeholders. The 4 biggest contributors to the exceptional energy efficiency the team was able to achieve were:

  • Power: The two renewable sources that produce as much as two-thirds of its power: a 50-kilowatt wind turbine generator (the AOC 15/50), which yields 260 gigajoules (GJ) in electricity annually; and a solar heating system, which includes 12 south-facing photovoltaics that generate 8.7 GJ in electricity per year.
  • Heating & Cooling: The facility’s central plant consists of two 15 ton air source heat pumps and a 6kW electric DHW boiler. These heat pumps have an average Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 2.75. In addition, each heat pump is also equipped with a Nu-Air heat recovery ventilator using heat wheel technology.
  • Hot Water: The DHW is primarily met through a solar hot water collector with a 6 kW electric DHW boiler as backup
  • Insulation: The roof was constructed using polystyrene insulation and portions of fully vegetated roofing which has an average RSI value of 6.00 m2 oC/W whereas a building built to MNECB minimums would only require / have an RSI of 3.41 m2 oC/W. The wall sections and windows also exceeded MNECB minimums.

Project Details

Project Partner: Joggins Fossil Institute

Project Photos

  • External view of Joggins. Large stone building with big windows in front and three flags
  • Inside view of Joggins Centre. People looking at fossils surrounded by a rock-like display