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STGM Architects open new head office

April 30, 2015  By STGM Architects

standard_stgm-stephanegroleau-867April 30, 2015 – STGM’s new head office is located in the Beauport borough of Quebec City, adjacent to the Estimauville eco-neighbourhood.

It is a 1,000 square metre two-storied structure
that puts the focus on eco-friendly, architectural innovation. The
building succeeds in offering an exceptional level of comfort to its
occupants through the mindful integration of a longitudinal form,
orientation to the sun, light wood structure, meticulously selected
materials and efficient systems, while producing a low ecological
footprint. High performance concrete siding combined with Eastern Cedar
creates an impression that is both simple and dynamic, with attention
given to the relationship between solids and voids that lend the
building an air of elegance that belies both time and fashion. From the
first sketches, the designers sought to attain a high level of
sustainability – a principle already at the heart of the firm’s
priorities, using creativity to implement the strategies necessary to
reach LEED-NC Platinum level. With this objective in mind, comfort, simplicity and coherence were selected as founding principles.

new offices comprise two vast open-area workshops, closed offices,
conference rooms, and indoor and outdoor meeting and rest areas. The
longitudinal form, developed north-south, is sober and contemporary. The
building integrates innovation and a host of eco-friendly features in
view of attaining the highest level of sustainable building

A number of features
were included to reduce the consumption of drinking water. Through
efficient water management, the building decreases the energy
requirements of wastewater treatment plants. The strategies employed
aimed to reduce the consumption of drinking water through the use of
such water-saving accessories as low-flow faucets and shower heads, and
rainwater to flush the toilets.


An ambitious reduction in energy consumption of over 60%
compared with the reference building was sought through an innovative
aerothermal design and recuperation of the building’s internal heat to
curb demand on the distribution networks. A solar wall was also erected
on the south-west façade of the building to preheat fresh air. Several
control strategies also mitigated at-source needs by adapting lighting, 
heating and cooling use to actual occupation and needs.

project designers also focused on the use and management of materials
and resources. Tthe building’s ecological signature, for example, is
apparent indoors with the use of wood salvaged from old houses in the
area. Furniture from the company’s old offices was salvaged and
integrated into the new project, without volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) and regional provenance (local sourcing) were prioritized
throughout the process. 

early as the first sketches, the characteristics of the site itself
dictated a minimalist approach to the structural concept. The limited
bearing capacity of the ground required minimal structural weight, and
so the lightweight ductile wood frame, with a low ecological footprint,
proved to be the best solution. With a small percentage of engineered
wood and a large portion of lumber, the structure consists of
prefabricated small-sized trusses and joists enabling a lighter
structure while allowing for wide spans (14 metres) between the posts to
create an open work area. The wood roof trusses were integrated as a
design element, exposed on the first storey, giving the building its
distinctive look.


Positive impacts for users

building’s location has its benefits for users. The dense sector is
located on the outskirts of the downtown core, near a busy highway, with
public transportation and a variety of services. Two parking lots are
reserved for carpoolers and a charging station for electric cars is at
the disposal of employees. The south facing terrace serves as a much
appreciated rest area with landscaping featuring maintenance free and
eatable plantings. Most of the plants are hardy and eatable, such as
raspberry, lilies and serviceberry, don’t require irrigation and enable
occupants as well as clients to use the outdoor areas of their

The building offers a
stimulating work environment. Natural lighting and outdoor views are
elements that are particularly appreciated. Most areas have natural
lighting due to abundant windows on the four sides of the building,
situated to optimize the different lighting opportunities during the
day. Five light wells add midday lighting that is both appealing and
varied depending on the time of day. LED fixtures, equipped with light
detectors in the two large work areas, complete the indoor lighting

Key objectives, in keeping with the premises of
comfort and simplicity, were to provide fresh air and to control the
immediate environment. A series of windows vents are strategically
positioned around the building envelope. In addition, the mechanical
systems are designed to efficiently cool and heat the different zones of
the building at the same time. 


The project’s environmental performance in numbers:

  • 110,000 litres of potable water saved each year
  • 50% reduction in potable water consumption
  • 96% construction waste diverted from landfill
  • 86% space receiving natural light
  • 94% space with outdoor views
  • 60% less energy consumed compared with reference building  
  • 53% wood from sustainably managed forests
  • 37% materials sourced locally
  • 21% materials with recycled content
  • 10% project materials salvaged
  • 1% energy from sun
  • 44% site area planted down
  • 100% site area decontaminated prior to construction (gas station)

 Sustainable measures

  • Secure area for bikes and showers (2) for cyclists
  • Porous parking spaces
  • Reduced number (25) of parking spaces 
  • White roof membrane
  • Rainwater
    management: 170 cubic metre underground reservoir for rainwater from
    roof; 25 cubic metre roof capacity; natural water infiltration bed for
    remaining rainwater
  • Collected and treated rainwater (Éconeau system) used for toilets
  • Landscaping with hardy plants, vegetables and fruit shrubs
  • Water saving plumbing appliances: sinks, 5.7 L/min; double flush toilets, 3 and 6 L/flush; showers: 5.7 L/min
  • Minimized weight and optimized capacity of light wood frame
  • Small size wood frame (2×3, 2×4, 2×6…)
  • Low emission VOC materials: Adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, floor coverings, wood composites
  • 90% of building area bathed in natural light
  • Four lightwells (1.2 m X 1.2 m) on first floor
  • Opening windows around building


Eco-energy technologies

  • Aerothermal
    system with variable cooling (R410a) heat pump with several
    decentralized evaporator modules and two-module condensor
  • COP in heating mode between 2 and 5 (depending on exterior conditions)
  • Solar captor (Lubi par Enerconcept), 42 sq. metres
  • Average efficiciency of heat recovery system of waste air (enthalpic core) 70%
  • Efficiency of natural gas heater 85 kW, always in optimal operating mode, 97%
  • Installed heating power 84 kW
  • Installed cooling power 94 kW

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