Mistissini’s innovative new community centre has become the talk of international engineering circles. Taking into account all of the energy-saving measures that went into the building design, the project has been awarded three prestigious awards.

The building was designed by Dessau, a leading firm in engineering-construction and the second largest of its kind in Quebec.

“The community will save 62% of a usual energy bill because of the efficient systems that were put in. These are state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical systems that are now starting to be used in buildings of this type,” said engineer and project manager Alessandro Cirella.

The project won a Grands Prix du génie-conseil québécois award of excellence, presented by the Association des ingénieurs-conseils du Québec (AICQ); a Canadian Consulting Engineering Award, presented by the Association of Canadian Engineering Companies (ACEC); and the Technology Award 2009 international building engineering award (national and international levels), presented by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Cirella said the community of Mistissini played a big role in the project from day one, requesting the most energy-saving systems available for that type of building. In his opinion, not only was Mistissini increasing its environment values and decreasing the greenhouse gasses but it was also keeping the wellbeing of the community in mind.

“This is quite a feat for a community of its size to say that they would spend $1.5 million additional dollars for a building in order to be able to save in the long run. Usually people try and save money up front with more economical equipment but Mistissini went the other way,” said Cirella.

The 78,000-square-feet facility houses a large arena, cafeteria, gymnasium, weight room, library and offices. The building was designed to include geothermal energy, a cold bank and heat wheels which will prevent the creation of 350 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save $154,000 in annual costs.

With the investment made into these kinds of systems, the community will see a major return on their investments within the first years and an additional 50 years of energy savings.

“It was a very strategic decision that they made and they knew where they were going. The community of Mistissini set up a steering committee to follow the project and they took the project seriously. It was a success on all levels from the design to the construction,” said Cirella.