Guinness Tower


1055 West Hastings Street

Vancouver , BC

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Certifications & Awards
Project Team
  • LEED/Re-commissioning Consultant: MMM Group
  • Owner : Oxford Properties
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Guinness Tower - Derek Page & Steve Patrick, Oxford Properties and Juan Monterrosa, MMM Group


Guinness Tower is a 23-storey commercial office building with three levels of below ground parking. Originally built in 1969, this international style building of concrete, aluminum and curtain wall was renovated in 1993 and again in 2014. Recent upgrades include a new bike storage area, with foyer and landscape remodeling. Guinness Tower shares amenities with adjacent buildings, with a fitness center located in the Marine Building and conference rooms in the Oceanic Plaza.

Guinness Tower is a multi-tenant project; in order to certify in the LEED Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (EB:O&M) program, the property owner looked to tenants for participation and cooperation. The project has a performance period time frame where all related polices, programs and performance tracking must be operational. To ensure efficacy, all new policies put forth required a scope, performance metric goal, procedures, responsible party and time period.

Sustainable Sites

Some activities taking place outside the building still contribute to the sustainability of Operations and Maintenance. Occupant transportation is one example. Reducing dependency on single occupant vehicles is a key means to reduce a project’s carbon footprint.

Based on a sample survey, it was determined that over 80% of tenants travel to and from the building via alternative modes of transportation rather than by single occupancy vehicle (SOV). This impressive figure can be partly attributed to the project’s proximity to major bus routes, Skytrain subway stations and to quality cycling infrastructure such as extensive municipal bike lanes, many of which are separated lanes in downtown Vancouver. The renovations in Guinness Building have also seen a significant upgrade to well-lit, ample and secure bicycle storage, some of which are encased in millwork with storage for clothing and other cycling gear. The renovated change rooms feature showers, lockers, closet hooks and Energy Star dryers to encourage and accommodate all-season cyclists

Water Efficiency

The project improved landscape design and set water efficient targets to achieve a potable water savings of over 50%.

Energy and the Retro-Commissioning Process

Guinness Tower underwent an investigation with MMM Group’s commissioning team, which was conducted as part of BC Hydro’s Continuous Optimization for Commercial Buildings Program. The investigation was initiated to identify deficiencies and improvements in the operation of the mechanical equipment, lighting, and related controls at Guinness Tower and to find ways to reduce energy consumption and preserve the indoor environmental quality through corrective action.

This information was used by Oxford Properties to specify corrective action and what needs to be presented to show that the correction or improvement has been successfully implemented by those responsible (e.g. controls contractor) for the implementation.

The investigation focused on low-cost improvements with short paybacks, although major capital improvement opportunities were also identified. Oxford Properties is responsible for implementing the selected bundle of measures that pay back in two years or less. Once implementation phase is complete (December 31, 2016) an implementation summary will be submitted to the owner as part of a Retro-commissioning Final Report.

Oxford Properties’ continual program of energy efficiency improvements is enhanced with an installed energy management system, a Building Automation System (BAS) which helps pinpoint operational energy consumption to identify and target energy reductions.

Below is a description of the recommended low-cost improvements:

Optimization of Sequence of Operation on BAS

Keeping As-Built sequence of operation documents on site helps ensure that the building’s systems are being run as they should. Before the retro-commissioning, it was confirmed that the last sequence of operation was from the spring of 2011, which was confirmed out of date by the Chief Engineer at Guinness Tower.
Oxford Properties engaged in a process of updating the sequence of operation while also optimizing sequences. A controls contractor was hired to review all control sequences and update control drawings to serve as As-Builts and kept on site. The contractor worked with MMM Group to create recommendations for new additional optimized sequences.

The new As-Built control drawings showed sequence of operation changes in a comprehensive narrative form. Functional testing was performed by MMM Group to verify the sequence of operation.

Minimum Ventilation and Dry Bulb Economizer Differential Strategy

The building operators were manually adjusting the outdoor air dampers on the air-handling units based on outdoor air conditions and building operator experience.

Using a dry bulb differential strategy, outdoor and return air temperatures are compared to maintain minimum damper position when free cooling is favourable, with the outside air damper modulating as the first stage of cooling.

The team calculated the outdoor air requirements as per ASHRAE 62.1 to determine minimum damper position. The system underwent functional testing and the sequence of operations was updated to include this new strategy.

Major retrofit measures were beyond the scope of the BC Hydro Continuous Optimization Program, but other BC Hydro programs provided a variety of incentives to retrofit Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) on the domestic cold water booster pump, primary heating pumps, main CHW pump, main condenser pump, and chiller compressor.

A VFD, or variable speed drive, installed on a motor can reduce its runtime, creating efficiencies and equipment longevity. Any application that doesn’t need to be running at full speed can be controlled with a VFD to allow the speed of the motor-driven equipment to match the load requirement, which cuts down on energy use and costs.

VFD on Domestic Cold Water Booster Pump

It was discovered that the runtime on the domestic cold water booster pump could be reduced using a VFD.

VFD on Primary Heating Pumps

Primary heating pumps operated continuously to provide hot water to domestic hot water system. In the summer, however, heating is not required to circulate in the fan system therefore requiring less flow. Guinness Tower installed variable speed drives on the primary heating pumps and converted the 3-way valve to 2-way valve on the perimeter fans.

VFD on Main Chilled Water Supply

The pump on main Chilled Water supply was always running. VFDs were installed on the primary heating pumps and the 3-way valve was converted to 2-way valve on the perimeter fans.

VFD on Main Condenser Pump

The main condenser pump is operating 100% all the time when the chiller is off. If the chiller compressor is retrofitted with a VFD and maintains minimum flow, then installing a VFD on the condenser pump responds to the cooling demand of the chiller.

VFD on Chiller Compressor

The chiller was equipped with a VFD on the compressor to modulate according to building loads.

With a variable speed drive installed on the main chilled water pump, the chiller plant system is now optimized during lighter load days, enabling large chiller only when conditions dictate.

The commissioning team recommended three additional measures for future implementation:

-Remove Existing Reheat Coils and Adjust Volume of the Interior Fans
-Install a Variable Air Volume (VAV) System on Interior Fan System
-Install CO2 Sensors on Every Floor to Modulate the Main AHUs Outside Air Dampers

Oxford Properties and MMM Group not only tracked kWh and BTUs used on the project, but also greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Emissions were calculated for a 12-month Performance Period, with the GHG inventory becoming the building’s “base year” emissions. Future annual inventories will be compared to the base year to track results of emissions reduction efforts.

Indoor Air Quality

Many Canadian jurisdictions lack specific legislation dealing with indoor air quality issues. Fortunately, rating systems like LEED prioritize taking action on improving indoor air quality for safeguarding the health of building occupants.

There are multiple ways to protect and improve indoor air quality. One major way is through ventilation. To certify for LEED EB:O&M, Facilities like Guinness Tower must demonstrate their air-handling units deliver enough outdoor air to pass the ASHRAE 62.1-2007 standard requirements.

Guinness Tower prioritized air filtration and installed high performance (MERV 13) filters to reduce particulates in air distribution. As part of a foyer upgrade, Guinness Tower installed an entryway grate and mat system as a source control method of reducing pollutants and contaminants from entering the building via footwear.

The way buildings are cleaned can potentially expose occupants to harmful chemicals. Guinness Tower performed a custodial effectiveness assessment and created a high performance cleaning program, which included the use of sustainable cleaning equipment. Through the careful selection of non-toxic cleaning products and elimination of harmful substances, superior air quality is protected and health risks of chemical exposure prevented.

What building owners can do

For building owners who recognize the long-term financial value of a green retrofit, gathering data is key. Anthony Esposti, Senior Manager of Corporate Financing at Business Development Bank of Canada says energy-saving fixtures usually pay for themselves within two to six years. In order to ensure that retrofits actually deliver those savings, building owners need the following pieces of information: • Baseline data on the building’s energy and water use before the retrofit;
• Recommendations on equipment to reduce baseline use;
• Projected energy reductions and cost savings, as estimated by an engineer
• A means to collect and monitor data on the building’s energy and water use after the retrofit

A number of consulting companies provide this type of service, but financing for existing buildings can provide a challenge to pay for these services with the recommended equipment upgrades. Esposti advises landlords to inquire about retrofit financing options with their current lenders. Using information on the benefits of green buildings from sources like the Canada Green Building Council and Natural Resources Canada may aid in a loan request.

BDC is currently looking into ways to assist entrepreneurs reduce their companies’ greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency. Esposti also urges building owners to contact Business Development Bank of Canada with regard to financing as they “do have money available for doing things aside from mortgage financing.”

What you can do

Our homes have nowhere near the amount of mechanical systems in an office building. But we can still use some of the lessons learned from the upgrades and policies at Guinness Tower to conserve energy and have a lower carbon footprint at home.

It’s hard to know how much energy you’re saving if you don’t know how much you’re using in the first place.

Utility bills are a great first place to start logging and trending your consumption. Many utility companies also have online tools that can help you access detailed information about your usage throughout your billing period. MyHydro is one such example for British Columbians, which allows you to see your daily energy use and cost, and compare your use to similar sized homes.

Waste Reduction at home

Take stock of all of the materials coming into and leaving your house. How many disposable products do you use in a week? How full is your garbage and recycling bin? Identify these as a baseline and take steps to reduce these volumes. Here are a few ways to reduce your household waste:

Plan and purchase food portions wisely. Consult with websites with tips on how to prevent food waste Cancel monthly bank statements, pay bills online and cancel unaddressed admail

Use rechargeable batteries. There are 15 billion batteries produced and sold each year, most of which are the disposable alkaline type, with only a fraction recycled.
Donate items to a charitable organization or post it online to or the free section of classifieds.
Bring your own containers and bags while grocery shopping; choose re-usable products over disposables at every opportunity and carry a reusable mug.

Indoor Air Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air is anywhere from 2 to 10 times more hazardous than outdoor air.

To improve Indoor Air Quality, change the filters in your furnace and air conditioner regularly, particularly after they have been sitting idle, literally collecting dust.

Regarding paints, there are many products now available that are free of solvents and Volatile Organic Compounds solvent-free. Clay paints in particular are non-toxic and mold resistant and release negative ions in the air.

If you’re not yet a shoe-free household, consider the benefit of keeping outdoor dirt and pollutants away from your floors, which gets shuffled into the air you breathe.

Source: Sources: MMM Group, Oxford Properties, Business Development Bank of Canada, BC Hydro, US EPA, MindBodyGreen,