New 84-unit seniors housing in Saanich constructed to Built Green standards

The much-anticipated Mount Douglas Manor affordable housing development on Arrow Road has neared the completion of the framing stage.

Designed by Number Ten Architecture to Built Green standards, the three-storey, 84-unit building is a first for local builders Città Construction. Città has built hundreds of single-family residential homes to Built Green standards but nothing to this size, said vice-president Mike Dalton.

“The economy of scale makes Built Green for this size of project even better,” Dalton said. “There are a few more boxes you can tick, and a few more options, but mostly it’s just doing the same things on a bigger scale.”

Rezoning for the $10 million Mount Douglas Court replacement was approved in early 2017.

When Dalton explains what makes the building a Built Green building, it’s all about high “R” values. The higher the R value, the better the product insulates and minimizes heat transfer.

The double-pane windows have composite material spacers that are slow to change temperature. Walls are well sealed with higher R value insulation. It’s about using durable products with minimal toxins, such as water-based paint, lacquers and floor adhesives, low-energy LED lighting, low-flow taps, showers and toilets, all of which cost more up front, but set up a cost recapture later.

“Heating and hot water are going to translate into higher costs, recovering heat and hot water over the long term just makes sense,” Dalton said.

Progress is audited by a certified inspector that visits throughout the construction period and then again for a series of tests at the end. They’ll check the work and check receipts to ensure proper grade materials are used.

“[At completion the auditor] does a blower door test to calculate the air leakage, measure how well sealed the building is, and they can do a rating of air change per hour,” Dalton said.

Bill Patterson founded Città Construction in 1985 and it’s been focused on sustainable building since the 1990s, starting with a specific pair of projects. One was a straw bale, solar-assisted house. The other reused timber rescued from a hangar that blew down in a storm.

“These projects really kick-started our thinking,” Dalton said. “From there, we got the bug – we wanted to challenge the status quo. [Patterson] gave us the time we needed to consider our material usage, to learn about new methodologies, to better understand the impacts our builds have on natural resources, to augment current processes and procedures into our operation, and to nurture and cultivate a culture that integrates and rewards sustainable approaches across the company.”

Città has been recognized numerous times by the Hallmark Society for its heritage work and design in Old Town Victoria and is up for five CARE awards this year.

This story has been amended from its original version.

Travis Paterson

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