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Canada’s national museum of military history

  • 3 millionArtifacts and documents in its collection
  • 500,000Visitors every year
  • 2005Opening year of new location on Lebreton Flats
  • #1Of things to do in Ottawa according to TripAdvisor

Building Features

Fast Facts (PDF)

Sustainable Design

Dedicated to the education, preservation and remembrance of Canada’s military history, the Canadian War Museum also demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability. The Museum’s architectural theme, as reflected in its design, is regeneration:

While nature may be ravaged by human acts of war, it inevitably survives, regenerates and renews itself.
— Raymond Moriyama, architect

By fully integrating this theme into the building and landscape architecture through energy-efficient features, the use of recycled materials and a green roof, the Museum recognizes the harsh reality of war, yet offers hope that, like the regenerating landscape, Canadians will inherit a future free from conflict.

The Location

Located on LeBreton Flats, the Museum sits on land that once held houses, rail yards, flour mills, sawmills and other industries that were destroyed by a fire in 1900. Before the Museum’s construction could even begin, a remediation program “regenerated” the land by removing a large volume of contaminated soil. In 2003, the National Capital Commission started the LeBreton Flats remediation program, which involved digging down to bedrock and then treating and disposing of contaminated sections. The clean rock and rubble was crushed and reused for roadwork and other construction. In the spring of the following year, construction of the Canadian War Museum began on the remediated site.

Energy-efficient Features

The selection of building materials also reflects the Museum’s sustainable design. From the copper taken from the roof of the Library of Parliament to the Museum’s carpets, recycled materials were used as much as possible. Energy efficiency was another critical factor in the choice of construction materials and energy systems. Concrete, noted for its high energy-efficiency, was the building’s main construction material. Because of its greater physical mass, a concrete structure resists interior temperature changes better than other materials when outdoor temperatures change, which reduces the load on mechanical heating and cooling systems. About 15 percent of the concrete is fly-ash cement, a by-product of coal-fired power plants. For every ton of fly-ash replacement, one less ton of carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

The installation of an earth energy system further reduced the energy requirements for heating and cooling. This system uses water from the nearby Ottawa River. In summer, the system is used for cooling by pumping water into the condensing bundles of the building’s chillers to cool refrigerant. In winter, the water is used to heat up glycol in a heat exchanger. The warm glycol is then pumped through a liquid-to-air heat exchanger to warm the outside air that is brought into the building. The river water is also used for flushing toilets and for irrigating outside gardens, which reduces energy and water consumption.

Other energy-efficient features include:

  • occupancy sensors in support offices and support spaces and daylight sensors to reduce lighting levels in the lobby, large artifacts room and library;
  • a direct digital controls system that efficiently controls space conditions and allows equipment operation to be optimally scheduled; and
  • fluorescent lamps as the primary light source throughout non-public areas, and the use of low-wattage metal halide and fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent sources in exhibits.

The Green Roof

Perhaps the Museum’s most interesting environmental feature is its 10,684 square metre green roof — at the time of its construction, it was one of the largest of its kind in North America. Covered in the same tall-grass species that grow along the Ottawa River, the roof is actually a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires minimal maintenance. The plants help “clean” the air of smog and air pollution. The roof includes a 300 millimetre mix of soil and retention board that can hold up to 720,000 litres of storm water. The combined green roof features help provide additional insulation to reduce energy loss while moderating any urban heat island effect as the plants help cool and clean the air above the building.

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