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Solar power lights the way for Chandos on aquatic centre project

Warren Frey
Solar power lights the way for Chandos on aquatic centre project
CHANDOS CONSTRUCTION LTD. — The Drayton Valley Aquatic Centre build by Chandos Construction Ltd. not only used solar panels to reach net-zero but also to provide power during the construction process.

A challenging pool project in southern Alberta is net-zero, solar powered and coming in on time and on budget.

Chandos Construction was tasked with building the Drayton Valley Aquatic Centre and they took on the challenging project using both an innovative technology and a forward-thinking approach to the delivery model.

Building an aquatic centre that could output net-zero energy consumption was a goal for the owners from the very beginning, Chandos vice-president of collaborative construction Jen Hancock said.

“Even in their Request for Proposals (RFP), the Town of Drayton Valley was asking for a team that would be able to build a net-zero pool. That was really their goal from the beginning and part of that was sustainability goals from the town. They’ve been pretty innovative in that space and they were looking for federal and provincial funding for the pool,” she said.

“They’re using Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) as a contract so they would have an integrated team working together. Doing a net-zero pool is really difficult as we found out during design and construction and the best chance to even attempt it was with a highly collaborative team.”

Solar panels serve as the main power source for the pool, Chandos senior project manager Daniel Overmars said, “and a lot of it has to do with the maximum load that’s going to be supplied throughout the lifecycle of the year of the building.

“Typically in the wintertime you’re going to have more heat and electricity based on the lighting and on lighting conditions, but those are going to be your time of greatest consumption and you don’t get the same (amount of) light, so you’re not getting that impact from the solar panels,” he said.

The IPD process was integral to sharing data with stakeholders and determining how best to build the structure, Chandos construction superintendent David Dear noted.

“We realized that we were going to have this shell built and have environmental control in the building and that allowed us to identify early in the process a possibility of doing solar, so with the IPD process, we leveraged the electrical subtrades and the electrical designer and realized what we would have to do in order to get it early,” Dear said.

Much of the materials and components were ordered and obtained early, he said, in order to get the solar panels installed before the rest of the build was complete.

“We fast-tracked the mechanical room in order to get to the point where we could get the switchgear in safely and in a weather-tight room and get the solar panels on the finished roof,” Dear said.

“You’re out of the starting gate running. You’ve got everything pre-ordered, all the long-lead times and so it’s very impressive when you look at how we started this 18 months ago and we’re still on track, under budget and we’re on time.”

Using a bi-directional meter the team was able to use solar panels to power construction before completion of the project, which Hancock also credited to use of an IPD model.

“Normally in a traditional contract we could never turn those on ahead of time because there would be concern about their operation, if anything happened during construction and who would be responsible after. Because we have this team that’s really tied together you’re able to make a decision and move forward,” she said.

“The cost savings around the electricity that’s generated is going back into the project so it’s benefiting the owner, benefiting the team and it’s a really great use of solar panels during construction,” Hancock added.

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