OGHC achieves LEED® Silver Certification

In mid-June, 2020, the Canada Green Building Council advised OGHC that our development at 200 Arlington has been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. No other Canadian housing co-operative has been certified at or above LEED Silver certification.

Old Grace Housing Co-operative’s two rain gardens are a part of the environmental approach that allowed the co-op to achieve LEED certification. Rain gardens use water-loving plants to collect rainwater and reduce the flow of water into sewers. Rain gardens can also help filter out pollutants in runoff and provide food and shelter for butterflies, songbirds, and other wildlife.

LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. OGHC members decided to pursue LEED certification for the 200 Arlington project early in the design process. It was seen as a way of quantifying, enforcing, and verifying the membership’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Prairie Architects Inc., our architect, had extensive experience with green building practices and neighbourhood engagement, and played an important role in helping us gain this recognition.

Embracing green building practices is critical to improving environmental sustainability. As Prairie Architects noted:

Buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of global energy use and according to the 2018 Global Status Report, building construction and operations accounted for 36% of global final energy use and 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2017.

Prairie Architects designed the first LEED building in Manitoba, the Mountain Equipment Co-op in downtown Winnipeg, and was also the architect for Greenheart Housing Co-op – the only other housing co-op in Canada to achieve LEED certification.

LEED buildings must meet certain prerequisites and are awarded points, to a maximum of 110, for other elements.

To receive Silver certification, a project has to conform to criteria related to:

  • Site Selection and Maintenance
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation and Design Process
  • Regional Priority

These categories touch upon almost every aspect of design, construction, and operation. Examples of ways in which OGHC is meeting these standards include:

  • taking measures to control erosion during construction;
  • developing a landscape design that makes effective use of rainwater;
  • ensuring that the building is considerably more energy efficient than if it simply met the provisions of Canada’s Model National Energy Code for Building;
  • installing water-conserving bathroom and kitchen fixtures;
  • not using ozone-depleting substances in the building’s mechanical system;
  • diverting three-quarters of what would normally be considered construction waste to different recycling facilities;
  • using materials with recycled and regional content.

The LEED project profile can be found here

While OGHC had targeted Gold level certification (Platinum is the highest level), we fell three points short of the Gold level. Our ability to reach that goal was limited by a number of factors, including the provincial government’s decision to knock down the previously existing building and clear the site. This limited our ability to use recycled construction material.

OGHC did not seek LEED certification for the townhouse construction, largely because the scale of the project and the funding available would not have warranted the related application expense. However, Prairie applied the same sustainability principles to the townhouse design and the townhouses received a PowerSmart for New Homes designation.

The Arlington building received the PowerSmart incentive for energy savings (a 27% better performance than the Manitoba Energy Code for Buildings) and both phases exceed the province’s Green Building Policy.

OGHC members and friends can be very proud of our demonstrable commitment to sustainability. We also benefit daily from having adopted LEED building practices. We are using less water and power than traditional residential buildings and paying lower utility bills. Our advanced heating, cooling, and ventilation system results in improved air quality in our suites and common areas. The high levels of insulation not only keep our suites cooler in summer and warmer in winter, they keep them quieter.

OGHC Building Committee Team: Victor Dobchuk, Laura Sevenhuysen, and Sandra Hardy.

OGHC achieves fundraising goal: raises over $300,000 to support affordability and accessibility

 

Thanks to generous donations from OGHC Members and Friends, faith-based organizations, and our consultants, and indirect support from The Winnipeg Foundation, OGHC has raised over $200,000 to ensure that very-low-income households can enjoy the benefits of living in our co-operative community. 

Early on, OGHC committed itself to creating an inclusive, mixed-income co-operative. We wanted to welcome members from different cultures, ages, and family compositions, with differing degrees of mobility, and offer safe, supportive housing to individuals whose financial circumstances put decent housing out of reach. Our tangible commitment to these values led the Manitoba government to approve our proposals to build on the former Old Grace Hospital site.

Thirty-four of our suites are reserved for households whose incomes fall below a level set by the Manitoba government. Thirteen of these are reserved for households whose income is even lower and who qualify for Rent Supplement or Rent Assist from the Manitoba government to be able to afford their housing.

Because OGHC was committed to providing this housing, the province loaned us $2.8-million and leased us the land at no cost. If OGHC continues to meet its commitment for 20 years, it does not have to pay it back.

The $2.8-million permitted OGHC to reduce the share prices for the 34 households by an average of $70,000 per suite. For households with access to assets (parental or sponsor support, equity in a house or condo), the share price (though high in comparison to other Winnipeg co-ops) was manageable. That was not the case however with the majority of the 13 households receiving rent supplement.

So, we had to raise money – quite a lot of money – to reduce their share prices even further or abandon the vision of a mixed-income community.

Our Share Sponsorship fundraising efforts began in 2015. We knocked on a lot of doors without success, until, in December 2016, the Winnipeg Foundation agreed to match up to $55,000 in funding to charitable organizations that would provide funding for low-income housing at OGHC.

In short order, we secured commitments from the Mennonite Central Committee (Manitoba) and All Saints Anglican Church totalling $84,000. This money was used to fund the shares for several newcomer families and helped clear the way for us to add back the cost of the second elevator to our project budget.

Our next goal was to create a fund that could be used to help offset the share costs for members who may not have access to the assets that would permit full-price share payment. Raising this money took another three years—again having to knock on many, many doors. With the support of All Saints, St Margaret’s, and the Winnipeg Meeting of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) the goal was achieved.

We also applied for many grants and sponsorships and raised a further $120,000 that way – funds that went toward costs of the courtyard and landscaping, wheelchair lift, Peg City van, common kitchen appliances, energy modelling study and WiBand installation.

Our efforts have also led to recognition beyond our walls. Blair Hamilton of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada has said:

The dogged commitment to find a way to have an inclusive, non-token, mixed income community is a defining feature of Old Grace.

While the fundraising team has concluded its efforts, OGHC may receive small additions from our sponsors, bequests, etc.

Thank you for your generosity: the OGHC fundraising team:

Shirley Lord (past President), Glenn Morison, and Sandra Hardy

We are moving in

Old Grace Housing Co-op members will start moving in on the week of  March 19.

To facilitate this, the co-op has obtained a City of Winnipeg permit that reserves the 40-metres on Arlington Street directly south of Preston for the use of moving trucks. The reserved area will be marked by signs.

The permit will be in effect until the end of April. Moving vehicles may also be parking on Preston and Evanson. However, no spaces are being reserved for them.

Thank you for your patience.