New mass timber office building welcomes occupants in Vancouver
By Jennifer Ellson
Natural Resources Canada has announced the official occupancy of oN5, the first office building in Canada constructed using high-performance cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.
Named for its location near the intersection of Ontario Street and East Fifth Avenue in downtown Vancouver, the top three storeys of this four-storey mass timber office building are constructed entirely out of CLT. It also has an advanced adhesive system that joins the CLT panels together without the need for beams, making the material comparable to concrete in terms of interior clear heights, flexible layout and efficient construction. oN5 supports the offices of local design and construction firms.
“We feel that as engineers, we have a responsibility to put our money where our mouth is. We want to provide an example to society while doing something good for the environment by using mass timber. The City of Vancouver and British Columbia are leaders in wood excellence, and we’re proud to be part of it,” said oN5 owner Robert Malczyk.
Over $1.2 million in funding for the oN5 project was provided through Natural Resources Canada’s Green Construction Through Wood (GCWood) Program, which encourages low-carbon construction through innovative uses of wood in non-traditional construction projects, such as low-rise non-residential buildings, tall wood buildings and bridges.
“By making effective use of Canada’s forest resources through low-carbon building systems, Canada is becoming a world leader in sustainable wood construction practices, increasing energy efficiency and climate resilience in our communities while simultaneously enhancing the global competitiveness of our forestry, wood manufacturing and construction sectors,” said Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
“That’s why our government is pleased to support projects like oN5 — to help lower emissions, create good jobs for workers and build better neighbourhoods for everyone,” he added.
Its construction required sophisticated building information modelling and virtual construction work due to the challenging zero-lot-line site.
“This project is an excellent example of a high-performance, innovative and sustainable wood building. It showcases technologically advanced mass timber systems and how the components work together for optimal designs that can be easily replicated,” said Lynn Embury-Williams, executive director, Wood WORKS! BC and Canadian Wood Council.
The installation of the CLT building structure was completed in 15 days due to the use of prefabricated panels over conventional methods and therefore limited the impacts of construction on local residents and businesses while delivering the same benefits. The building includes instruments that monitor its performance, creating a living case study on the possibilities for urban infill projects built with innovative mass timber.
“Projects such as this address today’s urgent demand for more efficient construction using sustainable building materials toward a goal of carbon-neutral structures that will positively transform our built environment,” Embury-Williams added.
oN5 incorporates several sustainable building technologies — including its mass timber construction — enabling it to be comfortable, affordable and ecological at the same time. The building meets Passive House standards for energy efficiency and also employs state-of-the-art seismic devices for resisting earthquakes. Its design and use are examples of climate resiliency in action.
Projects like oN5 are helping Canada reach net zero and develop the low-carbon economy by finding innovative and effective approaches to building sustainably, using Canada’s world-class wood products.
“Approaching construction projects with innovation and creativity is one of the ways we can tackle the climate crisis. The use of mass timber for construction not only lowers emissions and promotes renewables but also supports value-added manufacturing and energy efficiency,” said Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country.
“Buildings like oN5 will reduce the emissions associated with building materials and increase the speed of construction, helping us reach our net-zero goals and create the green, sustainable communities of the future,” Weiler added.