Don't have an account? Create one now

2005 Buildings — Co-winner 1

Town of Canmore, Alberta

Canmore Civic Centre

Population: 14,221

Built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver rating, the Canmore Civic Centre houses all town hall administration staff, a local museum and meeting areas for community groups. It includes an array of energy-saving devices, such as a high-efficiency condensing boiler, heat recovery and natural ventilation systems, daylighting and water conservation measures. Instead of expensive air conditioning, the town's water supply system cools the building. The Civic Centre is 40 per cent more energy-efficient than a conventional building of the same size and saves more than 50 per cent in water usage.


Before 2004, the Town of Canmore's administration was scattered throughout several facilities. "Part of environmental services and the engineering department were in one building, while our planning staff and some other environmental services staff were working out of our seniors' centre, so communication was difficult," recalls Don Kochan, director of environmental services. "It also made it very awkward for our customers, especially contractors and developers."

In addition, the Canmore Museum was on its last legs, and museum staff were finding it difficult to attract tourists to the facility.

It was clear that Canmore needed new administrative space. But, rather than simply construct a new town hall, town council and staff wanted to set an example of sustainability for the rest of the community. "We live in a very pristine mountain environment and we wanted to protect it," says Mr. Kochan. "We also wanted to show leadership and have our town hall meet our environmental goals."


  • The civic centre set a precedent in the community for sustainable building design, and, as a result, town council agreed that all new construction and upgrades to municipal facilities must achieve a minimum LEED silver rating.
  • Energy efficiency measures will divert about 323 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save the town approximately $14,000 a year in energy bills.
  • The civic centre uses half as much water as a conventional building of the same size.
  • At a cost of $5.4 million, the return on investment for individual components of the building (e.g., the boiler and heat recovery systems) is less than five years. The return on investment for the entire building is approximately seven years. The Canada-Alberta Infrastructure Program contributed $1 million toward construction, with the town contributing the remainder.
  • In 2004, the Canmore Civic Centre was awarded Alberta's Project of the Year by the construction industry.
  • The centre's HVAC engineering consulting firm also received recognition from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta.
  • The Canadian Green Building Council (CGBC) has chosen to profile the Canmore Civic Centre as part of a presentation it will make at the World Sustainability Conference in September 2005 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • On June 7, 2005, the Town of Canmore received the Provincial Emerald Award for its environmental care program, which included the town's civic centre.

Lessons Learned

  • USE AN INTEGRATED DESIGN PROCESS. All stakeholders were included in the civic centre's design. By using an integrated process, contractors were able to assess a variety of issues before they occurred and compare the costs and performance of materials ahead of time. Economic spin-offs for the local industry are also becoming apparent.
  • BE PREPARED TO MAKE CHANGES. Although the building uses passive solar heating and natural lighting, the town initially wanted to incorporate solar energy technology. The cost, however, was too great. Similarly, the town wanted to use its groundwater to provide air conditioning, but the groundwater extraction permitting system would have taken too long to obtain. Instead, the town tapped into its municipal water supply for air conditioning.
  • SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS. The civic centre's opening prompted one developer, who owns the land next to the building, to also follow LEED guidelines. "This project is part of our town's evolution as it is now developing a full sustainability plan for the entire community," says Mr. Kochan.



  • Municipal departments involved included facilities, planning, parks and engineering.


  • The Canmore Museum
  • Canada-Alberta Infrastructure Program
  • Partners for Climate Protection
  • Green Municipal Fund
Page Updated: 21/12/2015