An existing residence tower on Saint Mary’s University campus in Halifax is getting a little greener with solar panels being integrated into the building envelope.
Shane Murphy, LEED AP — project manager at EllisDon Halifax, said 20 of the 22 storeys on the south side of the Loyola Residence will have PV panels starting at the third floor and going all the way to the top. The corners of the building were also replaced with aluminum panels.
“It’s 22 storeys and we put solar panels on just the south facing wall the whole way up except for the first two floors,” Murphy told the Daily Commercial News.
“We’re basically on schedule, on budget. It’s gone really well, fairly smooth considering how big of a job it was. It was a risky job as well taking off all the precast panels. They’re all very heavy.
“There is a lot of potential for mishaps, but we didn’t have any.”
The original building was constructed in the early 1970s. EllisDon worked with local contractor Markland who supplied and installed the PV panels and Photovoltaic vision glass, which they bought from Mitrex.
“It had precast panels on there before and we took them off on that (south) wall and several other corners just because they were at the end of their life, so they needed to be replaced,” said Murphy.
“They decided to replace them with the PV panels on the south wall. On the other walls they just did aluminum panels.”
No renovations were done on the inside of the building. Some demolition work was needed to get to the back of the precast panels.
“There was some abatement that had to be done,” said Murphy. “We had to set up the abatement tenting inside and then the demo. We had to get at the anchors for the precast, so we had a company contracted out to do all that work.
“They had a crane…for one side, for the larger panels. The other side they just lowered them down from the roof so they connected onto them then they cut the connections and lowered down the panels one by one. Then we basically rebuilt it, put in steel studs and insulation and put on new aluminum panels on the outside that was for the other corners.”
For the south side the process was similar but a crane was used.
“They were much larger panels,” Murphy explained.
“They took them off one by one and then they rebuilt a new wall which was a back-up wall for the new PV panels. We’re still in the process of putting up the PV panels now. They’ll hopefully be done in the next two weeks or so and then we’ll get them hooked up. They’ve been installing them and testing them as they go but they’re not actually hooked up to the grid yet.”
One of the biggest challenges was there were people living in many of the units.
“We had to work around the students,” Murphy said. “We kind of did one area at a time…It was a long process working around the university’s schedule and trying to keep noise down for the tenants. Some units were completely empty, some had people in some of them.
“We had to put up boarding walls to keep us separated from the tenant, to keep noise down and keep them safe. Even in areas where there were no tenants we had to keep the noise down so we had to sometimes start later in the mornings so we didn’t disrupt anyone.”
As for equipment, cranes were used but a lot of the work was done using a swing stage.
“There is a swing stage set up right now on the south wall and we’re doing some caulking in some other areas as well so that is all done off of a swing stage,” said Murphy.
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