Canada’s first net-zero energy fire station opens in Edmonton, innovating a service that protects a community
Powered by solar panels and designed by gh3 in Edmonton, Alberta, Windermere Fire Station #31 is Canada’s first net-zero energy fire station. The design challenge set by the local government was to integrate technology and high environmental performance into a structure powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
Fire stations are highly functional buildings that are fully integrated into their local communities. And because they preside over the safety of those communities, they’ve taken on symbolic value. The site for this project was a blank canvas. The form of the new station underscores its role in the community along with the imperative for sustainable citizenship.
A traditional station typically has a sloping roof, large doors for trucks and tankers to pass through, a hose tower, a bell tower, and solid, heavy walls. Windermere doesn’t ignore these cues from the past, but reinvents the shape of the hose and bell towers through its gently curving roof, which is covered with photovoltaic panels. The building’s energy performance is enhanced by its south-facing orientation, which reduces energy requirements and makes better use of natural light. The structure has geothermal heating and cooling, and is well insulated. The fire station’s doors and windows are very high, significantly fewer in number than average, bi-folding, and can be quickly closed to minimize heat loss.y
The project sets out to combine functional needs with aesthetics. It also features a bioswale rainwater management system, comprising small temporary reservoirs that retain water and slowly drain it into the aquifer. This system is integrated into the visitor parking lot, the entrances and exits, and the surrounding landscape.
Inside, the structure comprises a garage for firetrucks and accommodations for firefighters. The machinery area is painted white to magnify daylight and create a healthier working environment. The bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and offices are arranged around central changing rooms and a fitness area.
The sixth project by gh3 in Edmonton, Windermere Fire Station #31 is a symbol of a shared commitment to a more sustainable approach to the construction and management of public buildings and infrastructure.
Location: Edmonton. Alberta, Canada
Client: City of Edmonton
Building Area: 1,532 m2
Architect: gh3 (Design Architect) and S2 Architecture (Prime Consultant)
Interior Design: gh3 and S2 Architecture
Landscape: gh3 and Urban Systems
Structures: RJC Engineers
Mechanical/Electrical: Smith and Andersen
Photography by Raymond Chow, courtesy of gh3