City of Nanaimo Starts Fresh With an Energy-Efficient and Safe New Annex

The energy-conservation measures Nanaimo’s City Hall has undergone will have big benefits for both the city and the environment

The approximately 150 employees of City of Nanaimo’s City Hall—formally known as the Service and Resource Centre—are feeling considerably more secure now that the old annex building has been replaced with one that meets seismic standards. “The old annex building was built in 1937 and definitely did not meet today’s seismic standards, “says Bruce Joiner, manager of infrastructure planning and energy for the City of Nanaimo’s Parks, Recreation and Environment Department. “It was very hazardous. Our choice was to renovate extensively or build new, which proved to be the most cost-effective option.”
Beyond the safety aspects, the new annex was built to meet LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards. Standing three storeys high and at 42,900 square feet, the new annex uses  less energy despite being 29 per cent larger than the previous one. This move to be more energy efficient gave the City of Nanaimo the opportunity to participate in BC Hydro’s New Construction Program (NCP).

The NCP provides funding for an energy-modeling study, a simulation of how a building might function throughout a year if it’s designed and built with a variety of energy-conservation measures, along with additional financial incentives for implementing those measures. In this case, the energy study completed by Aaron Mullaley of Rocky Point Engineering Ltd., estimated that the new annex would, by incorporating a range of energy-conservation measures. Save about 39 per cent electrical energy over a similar building constructed without those measures­. The implemented energy conservation measure includes high-performance window glazing and solar domestic water heating, active chilled beam with central heat recovery heat pump system. The lighting system has been upgraded from standard T-8 lighting to feature 100% LED lighting throughout the building with occupancy and daylighting sensors, as well as dimming capabilities at every fixture. That translated to electrical energy savings of 285,540 kilowatt hours a year, or about $25,000 on the City’s energy bills.
“The energy study showed the city that the systems we were designing would give them good savings over the life of the building,” says Mullaley whose firm also handled mechanical engineering for the project. “The process made clear how spending a little more upfront on capital costs would lead to longer-term savings.”
As a public body, responsible to its taxpayers, the City of Nanaimo is very aware of the importance of payback periods.
“Going as energy-efficient as we did raised the incremental costs,” says Nanaimo’s Bruce Joiner, “and we have to be accountable for what we spend. So the incentives from BC Hydro to help cover those extra costs were crucial to bringing the payback period into an acceptable range of about eight years.”
To find out more about energy modeling and BC Hydro’s New Construction Program, visit or call 1 866 522 4713.