By Garth Grunerud

 

Parks Canada is establishing a headquarter for the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in Nipigon, to serve both as a Discovery Centre and Administration Building. The design will implement many of the recommendations included in the Greening Government Strategy, allowing Parks Canada to contribute in the transition to net-zero carbon and climate-resilient operations for the Government of Canada.

 

Parks Canada has set the design standard for this building to target net-zero carbon, which means the building/site will need to generate all electricity locally to cover its annual energy usage. The design consultant team is using Passive House design principles to ensure the building meets the strict energy requirements. Annual energy usage will include lighting, office equipment, interpretive displays, and electrical heating. The building is being designed specifically for its location, while taking into consideration the local geography and environment, including annual solar angles. The building will have super-insulated walls, high-performance windows, and will allow solar radiation to penetrate deep into the building in the winter, but limit solar radiation penetration in the summer. Everything considered, the target of this project is to construct a building that will serve current and future needs while not being susceptible to ever increasing energy costs.

 

The new building will be located a short walk from the downtown core in Nipigon and will be easily accessible from the marina and local hiking trails. This location will allow people to be active and experience many local activities without the need to drive and park in multiple locations. The site will include a new parking area equipped with several electric vehicle charging stations, many of which will be accessible to members of the public visiting the Discovery Centre. Moreover, Parks Canada is also starting to replace its vehicle fleet with electric and hybrid electric vehicles. With these planned capital investments, Parks Canada and Lake Superior NMCA are on track to becoming leaders in government operations that are net-zero, resilient, and green in the not too distant future.

 

The building design and tendering process is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2021. The Discovery Centre and Administration Building is sure to attract the attention of visitors interested in the outdoors, history, and environmental sustainability when this project is complete.

 

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