Oxford County Waste Management & Education Centre | Net-Zero Facility
Oxford County has put a major focus on environmental stewardship in recent years, as they advanced through the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan. The shift towards communal sustainability sparked a growing interest in waste management and diversion. So when the need emerged for a new administrative building at their Waste Management Facility in Salford, the County set out to construct a net-zero energy building that would consolidate administrative facilities with a new waste education centre for public groups.
The education centre is primarily used for school and community visits to demonstrate the small steps that can lead to big change in energy efficiency, environmental conservation and waste reduction. The structure achieves its net-zero status through several efficiencies including solar photovoltaic system that yields enough electricity to offset the amount used by the entire facility.
MTE’s role began with our civil engineers who supported the project in its early stages with the site grading and stormwater management design, as well as the design of an on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system. Our structural engineers joined the team to complete the design of the 4,800-ft2 facility. Constructed as a single-storey building with a wood-frame roof structure, the centre’s most notable feature is the rammed earth walls that emulate the layers of soil at a landfill site. Rammed earth is created by compressing a damp mixture of earth that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel and clay (sometimes with an added stabilizer) into an externally supported frame, creating a solid wall of earth.
The rammed earth walls are considerably thick with significant thermal mass and 8 inches of insulation. This makes for an airtight building envelope, which has helped the building achieve a net-zero energy rating. Our team collaborated with the architect on the design of the building and coordinated on the rammed earth walls, foundations, and timber frame roof system, along with triple-pane windows, energy recovery ventilators and other innovative design concepts to meet the net-zero requirements.