New Administration Building

The Municipality of Argyle releases tender for their Net Zero Energy Municipal Administrative Building

2019 09 03 Exterior Render


The Municipality of Argyle is pleased to announce that on January 22, 2020, we issued a tender for the construction of our new administration building. This building will be the first “Net Zero Energy” administration building in Canada, a great achievement that demonstrates Argyle’s leadership on environmental concerns.

Such an ambitious project brings challenges, especially in rural Nova Scotia where constriction prices and supply and demand for services fluctuate. The primary aim of the project is to construct a barrier free administrative building that was environmentally and financially responsible.

The design team led by Wild Salt Architecture redesigned the building in order to increase space efficiency, reduce material quantities and have the design closer to local building practices
The fundamental objectives remain:

  • Barrier free access and inclusive design – being the original reason for the project;
  • Net Zero Energy design – a long term financial investment that also attracted significant funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund, and other Federal Gas Tax Funding;
  • Community Spaces – an opportunity to use space efficiently and bring social benefits;
  • Resident access to meeting rooms, council chambers and an enlarged kitchen area for special after-hours events;
  • A one-stop shop front desk service, blending our services to better suit our residents;

The energy source for the building is a photovoltaic array (solar panels) which produces in one year as much energy as the building consumes. This powers the building heating system which has changed from a Geothermal Heat Pump to an Air Source Heat Pump; less efficient but more affordable. The building uses the NS Power grid like a ‘bank’, depositing electricity in sunny weather and withdrawing power when cloudy. Our mechanical engineers, ONSA Engineers, have designed for the balance to be zero, hence the building will be ‘Net Zero Energy’ in operation.

Residents and community groups will have access to meeting spaces specifically designed for inclusive community access; the Council Chambers and Kitchen, as well as two meeting rooms in the office area. Architect Elaine Lourdes Edgar says, “We need to build these spaces, but they cannot be occupied by staff continuously, so it makes good sense to design them to be used separately by the community without affecting staff operations.”. “In my view, the delivery of municipal services and the visitor experience is improved by this new design, and we look forward to its construction” says Warden Danny Muise.

While there was considerable support for a previous design which was more ‘traditional’ in appearance, there was an equally valid view that the building should be more economical, and this redesign certainly achieves that. The building shape has the most economical rectangular plan with a sloped roof that projects to create ‘dormer windows’ that bring natural light into the middle of the building. Architect Graham Edgar explains that “Staff and visitor wellbeing is critical; studies have shown that natural light increases staff productivity and reduces absences.”

The design revision has reduced the overall floor area of the building without losing any of the necessary spaces, drastically simplified the construction and reduced the anticipated construction cost. Furthermore, the design maintains eligibility for $460,000 in grants from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and an associated loan with a preferential interest rate, and access to Federal Gas Tax funds for energy efficient design.

  • The net zero energy design shall save up to $27,000 in energy costs annually. Over 30 years, including inflation, this saves our taxpayers over 3.2 million in operating costs.
  • The Municipality has saved sufficiently to pay for this project, therefore there will be no area rate or tax increase for this project.
  • The Municipality of Argyle engaged independent project management advice from Baracca Management Group, whose role, among others, includes working with prospective bidders to encourage participation.

The tender closes at 3pm on Wednesday February 19th, 2020 and can be viewed on the Nova Scotia Tenders website.

If you would like more information about this topic please contact Alain D. Muise, CPA, CA , CAO at 902-648-3293 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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