Kim Spencer, P.Eng., LEED®AP, Principal, brings to her new role a wealth of experience in the healthcare sector, with two decades as a successful and multifaceted manager and mechanical engineer with HH Angus. The Health Division is the firm’s largest service group, with millions of square feet of health care facilities designed by HH Angus in the last 5 years alone. Kim leads a large team of professionals providing design and engineering services to a range of facilities across Canada, including acute care, long term care, complex continuing care, mental health, children’s care, cancer centres, elder care, and rehabilitation centres.

“Kim’s promotion into this senior leadership role not only reflects her capabilities but also underscores the quality of our people, in that we are able to grow and develop leaders from within the firm,” said Paul Keenan, President, HH Angus. “Her deep understanding of the healthcare sector, communication skills and a client-centric approach will continue to grow our Health practice.”

Kim has earned a reputation for innovative engineering, sustainable design and successful project management, as well as a deep understanding of the healthcare sector. Equally, she is widely respected for a strong focus on clients and for her leadership skills in managing both people and projects. Kim’s portfolio includes new construction, expansion and renovation of acute care, complex continuing care, long-term care and mental health facilities, and experience with all forms of procurement, including P3s.

Kim is also an effective and timely communicator who understands that responsiveness is critical to successful project implementation and to building excellent client relationships. A few notable clients include: UHN, Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General), Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, South Bruce Grey Health Centre, ,Northern Health, Alberta Health Services, Quinte Healthcare, among many others.

“I’m very excited about my new role,” states Spencer. “I’m fortunate to work with such a talented team and look forward to contributing even further to the success of our clients and the firm.”

If you would like to contact Kim to find out how HH Angus can help you with your healthcare project, you can reach her at ;

Kim Spencer| Associate Director, Health Division, HH Angus and Associates Ltd

+1 (416) 443 8200

Whether planning a small departmental renovation, major redevelopment or infrastructure renewal, there are a number of important questions to ask at the outset. Having clear answers will have a positive impact on the project outcome.

In particular, project phasing can be greatly informed by asking the right questions about existing and required mechanical, electrical and plumbing services in order to arrive at a successful design solution that supports the project objectives, continued operation of the healthcare facility and safety of its patients.

So, what makes a renovation project a success?

Some key markers are meeting the schedule, staying on budget, minimally disrupting operations and having no safety issues.

Since each facility and project is unique, however, there may be additional, more specific considerations that arise.

Scoping it out COPING IT OUT

One of the most important questions is, What is the project scope? At a higher level, What problem/need will the project solve? 

It may be an identified need for redevelopment of a particular area or a key piece of equipment has been failing regularly and funding is now available to address it.

Be aware that the scope may grow beyond the initial assessment based on the requirements of current codes and standards, and existing equipment capacities, among other factors. It is essential to fully understand these impacts and determine how to deal with them.

Conditions specific to the site may dictate changes to the planned scope. For example, there may be a need to run new services into the renovation area from a distribution shaft; replace existing services and equipment to accommodate a renovation, unless alternative approaches are feasible (such as rearranging or reworking equipment to facilitate the increase in load); or phase renovations in critical areas, such as the emergency department, so they can remain operational.

Realize, too, the quality of project work is constrained by three factors: budget, deadlines and scope. A trade-off between constraints is possible but changes in one will usually mean adjustments in the other two to compensate, otherwise the quality of work will suffer.


It’s imperative to identify and mitigate risks in advance as much as possible. A good question to ask is whether there are plans and budgets for the unexpected, such as discovering ‘serviceable’ equipment is actually on its last legs or the capacity of a generator won’t permit additional load. 

One form of technology that can help mitigate the risk of the unknown is 3-D scanning of systems infrastructure, which can greatly improve the reliability of ‘as-built’ information. Scanning is performed within a space to collect ‘as-built’ data and the resulting point cloud is reconstructed into a 3-D model. The model can accurately capture the scanned space and size of services and objects within. This approach works particularly well for plant spaces where services are exposed.

Another way to mitigate unknown risk is by pre-demolition of a space prior to finalizing the design. After demolition of walls and ceilings, the design team can physically view existing services, identify conditions that may not be observable prior to demolition and update documents accordingly. When this is possible, the schedule cost of approximately three to four weeks is often well worth it to alleviate the impact of the unexpected. Other ways to confirm the current condition and capacity of services include review of maintenance records, pipe thickness tests, drain scoping, air and water audits, and metering existing services. Unknowns are always a risk to the budget, schedule and project scope. No matter how diligent the preparations, carrying an allowance as part of the project budget is recommended.


Questions around schedule are also critical: How quickly does the project need to be designed, constructed and in operation? Is there a fixed deadline (for example, driven by financing mechanisms such as the Health  Infrastructure Renewal Fund (HIRF) or Hospital Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP))? How has the schedule been developed? Have representatives been engaged from across the
hospital team? What about the design team? And, depending on how the project is being delivered, is construction team input required?

In building the schedule, it’s important to allow time for considerations such as long delivery equipment items, after-hours work, proper infection prevention and control, and construction phasing. If phasing includes multiple phased occupancies of various areas, time should also be allotted for testing, adjusting, balancing and approvals from authorities having jurisdiction at the conclusion of each stage.

Other scheduling-related questions include: Are plans in place to meet required  procurement timelines and processes? Are requests for qualifications and/or proposals or tenders being released through a procurement department? Is the facility posting for  competitive bids? If so, does the schedule  account for the required bidder response times?

Engaging a design team experienced in healthcare renovation will greatly assist in arriving at reasonable and reliable answers to these questions. The team will also need to understand future plans for the facility. For example, if replacing boilers and the five to 10-year plan includes building an addition,  consider whether reasonable allowances can be made in the boiler project to facilitate future expansion. Sometimes spending a few extra dollars now can save on future capital and operating costs.


Answers to the preceding questions will inform the establishment of the project’s key principles; in other words, the most important factors driving the project. When faced with a difficult decision during the project, these principles will serve as a guide for making decisions. The principles may be driven by budget, schedule, patient experience or a combination of these, plus other factors. Whatever is identified as key principles, share them with the team to assist in setting  expectations and defining the scope.

When key principles are established, the sum of the parts may not lead to the outcome originally envisioned. For example, getting things done quickly does not always lend itself to the lowest cost; off-hours/overtime work may be required to meet a compressed schedule. A well-worn axiom sums up this challenge: All successful projects require sufficient time, money and quality. If one is missing, there better be lots of the other two.


Construction phasing — the general sequence in which the renovation work needs to be  performed in order to meet project requirements — is a culmination of addressing all the foregoing issues. Phasing is developed by considering factors such as schedule,  departmental operations, hospital operations, infection prevention and control, and budget.

The earlier construction phasing is established, the better. For a departmental renovation, for example, the ideal situation is to shut down the entire area; however, this is often not possible due to operational constraints, so phasing becomes critical.

When establishing phasing, consider how different phases will affect existing mechanical, electrical, plumbing and information technology services. These services often do not respect a renovation project’s physical boundaries. For instance, ductwork supplying one area may continue through to a completely unrelated area but the renovation may impact both. If the team includes multiple design disciplines and professionals, encourage the architect to engage the engineers early and often in the phasing planning to help mitigate some of these risks.

In the early stages of multi-phase projects, execute enabling works for later phases. For example, leave valved/capped connections for extension of medical gases; rough-in junction boxes/empty conduit; allow for proper raceways; and consider placement of any new equipment to permit easy access to expand in a future phase. These simple steps can help ease some of the challenges of building a project over multiple phases.

Minimizing disruption to operations is typically one of the most important factors in a healthcare renovation project. Some schedule-friendly approaches include seasonal replacement of infrastructure (for chiller replacement, schedule construction in non-cooling months; conversely, schedule boiler replacement in summer) and the use of pre-fabricated equipment to assist with overall schedule and phasing/turnover.


If the initial project scope doesn’t include infrastructure upgrades, it’s important to assess the equipment serving the renovation area and clearly understand its life expectancy and operating costs. While the budget may not allow for it, investigate if spending a little more now (from the capital budget) can reduce future operating costs.

And while looking into the future and thinking about operating dollars, consider the facility’s master plan.

Can this current renovation reasonably accommodate parts of future planned renovations?

Those accommodations could include purchasing additional capacity for particular equipment, leaving space for future equipment in a location conducive to expansion or choosing modular equipment that can be readily expanded.


It’s essential to understand the impact of current codes and standards on the project. The design team can help sort through which activities and replacements should be undertaken versus those that must be done. Understanding how codes and standards relate to the project is critical as they can potentially have a major impact on the project scope and, accordingly, the budget and schedule as well. 


For the best chances of delivering a successful project, it is important to ask the right questions. In particular, clarity around the project’s scope and problems it addresses is vital. Determine phasing and related impacts early. As much as possible, identify and mitigate risks in advance. Finally, engaging a design team with verified healthcare renovation experience is a valuable asset in achieving these goals. 

Published in the Canadian Healthcare Facilities
Summer 2018

Kim Spencer, P.Eng.

Jeff Vernon, P.Eng.

Meeting  stringent standards while reducing energy use.

Hospitals face unique design challenges in meeting air handling requirements, none more so than the special requirements of operating rooms. As lighting systems and building  envelopes have become more energy efficient, it is air handling systems that increasingly  represent a hospital’s greatest energy consumer. But there are options to mitigate the energy demands of these systems.

Air handling systems are an important part of any building for maintaining occupant comfort. When it comes to hospitals, there are a series of special requirements that make ventilation systems critical to the delivery of healthcare.

Firstly, air handling systems are relied on to help protect occupants and adjacent  surroundings from infectious diseases and hazards created by equipment and processes. Many contaminants are generated which must be exhausted. In many areas of a hospital, the systems are designed so that air flows from clean to less clean areas to help protect staff and other occupants. A good example of this is Airborne Isolation Rooms where differential pressures must be monitored and alarmed.

Air handling systems are also a key component of the life safety strategy for managing smoke in a fire situation. A measure of the reliance on air handling is the requirement that ventilation systems must limit smoke concentration to allow operations to be safely concluded or for critical care patients to be safely transferred.

And now the rising level of patient acuity and the pressure of high utilization, with occupancy rates well above 100%, are putting even more pressure on HVAC systems. In Canada, CSA Standard Z317.2, Special  requirements for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in health care facilities, is referenced in most if not all Canadian Building Codes as good practice for the design, construction and operation of air handling systems. The latest edition was published in December 2015, and work  recently started on the next version due in 2020.

Operating rooms

Operating rooms and similar spaces where invasive procedures are performed have a number of particular air supply requirements:

  • Common practice for operating rooms is to supply a high volume of air at low velocity through laminar flow ceiling diffusers in the central area of the room with the intent of achieving a piston effect. The intent is for air to generally flow first past the patient and clean surgical staff before flowing to the outer portions of the room to the exhaust grilles. Studies have shown that 20 air changes per hour is effective; note, this is a far cry from the hundreds of air changes of a true laminar flow clean room.
  • The cleanliness of operating rooms is critical. Standards call for the supply air to be filtered to at least MERV 14, but many engineers and facility managers look to increase this to a higher level. HEPA filters, which are rated to 99.97% efficiency on 0.3 micron particles, have been adopted as the standard in many cases.
  • Staff generally prefer operating rooms be kept relatively cool as they are often gowned in multiple layers to minimize the possibility of infection. The premise that a wide range of temperatures is necessary to control the temperature of the patient, particularly during cardiac surgery, is not well founded. Blankets or pads that heat or cool are used to control the patient’s temperature.
  • There has been great debate over humidity in operating rooms. Many years ago the anaesthetics in use were flammable, and operating room  humidity was maintained between 50% and 60% to minimize the possibility of static electricity discharge. As anaesthetics became safer, the low end of the humidity range was reduced to 40%. The initial concern was that less humidity would cause drying at the surgical site; however, this condition was not observed. In the 2015 version of CSA Z317.2, the lower humidity limit was lowered to 30%, similar to most other spaces in a typical hospital.
  • Design engineers must carefully analyze the psychrometrics of air supplied to operating rooms over the possible range of temperature and humidity conditions. This is particularly true in the summer when cooling coils are relied on to dehumidify moist outdoor air. If this air is not dry enough, the relative humidity limit in operating rooms kept at a cool temperature will not be maintained. Enhanced cooling coils, lower chilled water temperatures, and desiccant moisture removal are some of the solutions.
An operating room inside the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.

Energy efficiency

These high levels of ventilation and air cleanliness, coupled with stringent temperature and humidity control and around-the-clock operation, all contribute to high energy use in hospitals; however, there are a number of strategies that can help reduce energy use:

  • Moving air at lower velocities takes less energy, so air handling equipment and ductwork with a larger cross sectional area needs less fan power to move the air.
  • Variable volume air supply and exhaust is more complex in a hospital due to the requirement to maintain directional airflow between most rooms and departments. This generally requires that each individual room or group of rooms control both supply and exhaust air in tandem so pressure relationships can be maintained.
  • A number of methods of heat recovery, when correctly applied, have proved effective while maintaining the cleanliness of the air. Projects such as the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) and Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria used enthalpy heat recovery wheels on all air handling systems to transfer heating, humidity and cooling from the exhaust air to the supply air.
  • There is a misconception that air handling systems all need to operate 24 hours a day. This is true for a number of space types but, even in more critical spaces, there are opportunities to reduce the total air volume or volume of outdoor air when the spaces are not in use, as long as certain conditions are met. Less critical areas offer more flexibility to reduce airflows or setback temperature setpoints.
Interior of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, where enthalpy heat recovery wheels are used on all air handling systems to transfer heating, humidity and cooling from the exhaust air to the supply air.

Published in the Canadian Consulting Engineer
January/February 2018 


Nick Stark, P.Eng., CED, LEED® AP, ICD.D

Lighting in healthcare centres requires balance between aesthetics and functionality. The right illumination is essential for medical staff to perform their duties and, as growing consensus suggests, aid in patients’ recovery. Bradford Keen speaks to architects and lighting specialists working across three continents about light’s healing properties.

From ancient Egyptians worshiping the sun god Ra to a parent parting the bedroom curtains of a moping teenager, light intuitively feels right. It is able to create perspective and alter moods. When intuition is verified by science, we feel vindicated by our innate wisdom.

Light has long been manipulated in effective design, but it is now permeating healthcare centres too. Gone are the days of bright, blue lights bearing down from above with the promise of sterility. Instead, the shifting ethos, backed by medical studies, has evolved to focus on how natural and artificial light can give patients a healthy glow.

“About five to ten years ago, healthcare design had a lot more of a clinical and institutional feel,” says Philip Schuyler. “People used really high colour temperatures – over 4,000k.” The electrical engineer at HH Angus explains that the industry now seeks to create a soothing environment mimicking someone’s home or a communal space, while balancing aesthetics, cost efficiency and functionality.

HH Angus and CanonDesign have undertaken a mammoth project. Spanning two blocks in downtown Montreal, the 21-storey Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) subsumes three existing facilities – Hôtel Dieu, Hôpital St Luc and Hôpital Notre-Dame – in what will be one of North America’s largest academic medical centres, spanning three million square feet. Phase one of the project, which includes the hospital and ambulatory building, was completed recently, while phase two’s office building is set for 2021. The healthcare district is set to teem  with social activity, boasting an amphitheatre,
natural green spaces and one of the country’s largest displays of artwork.

The direct health benefits of lighting – improved mood, reduced hospital stay, lower mortality rates, among others – are proven, as is light’s ability to help create a sense of shared calm for patients and their loved ones.

“Lighting makes people feel a lot more receptive to treatment,” Jocelyn Stroupe, director of healthcare interiors at CanonDesign, says. “Often, healthcare encounters are filled with anxiety. We want to be sure anyone who enters the building feels a sense of comfort.”

This mindset of making hospitals communal and homely spaces is relatively new but  gaining credence among architects.

“People usually go into healthcare facilities with humility,” says architect Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea. “They are searching for something; they need support and, if the building can help them achieve this, it brings satisfaction to all of us.”

This was the weighted starting point for the cofounder of AGi architects when designing the Hisham Al Alsager Cardiac Center in Kuwait. “People with chronic diseases require constant contact with doctors,” says Perez- Goicoechea. Their loved ones often spend many hours at their side or in the facility, which motivated the architect to design the centre as a place for social cohesion. “Light is extremely important for this. It must be a sanctuary,” he adds.

With red aluminium panels, the cardiac centre is designed and coloured – at the behest of the medical staff – to resemble a heart. Its large windows, on the north facade, open up to the dazzling blue of Kuwait Bay.

The multiple vertical skylights maximise natural light. Pollution and dust dictated their positioning. Placed flat and horizontally, they would have gathered too much grime, rendering them useless even with a stringent maintenance plan.

Lighting is a powerful “abstract and immaterial architectural tool,” says Perez-Goicoechea. “The issue is how you see the space as a structure on a sequence, which is identified by different lighting experiences depending on the use or character you want to give to that space.

“If you are going to be sitting in a waiting area for half a day, because this is the reality, you don’t want to be sitting under white, fluorescent lights. You want to be under warm ambient lighting that makes it cosier; it frames the space.”

The diffused ambiance of CHUM


This is where striking a balance is essential. “It needs to be a safe environment,” Stroupe says, “and lighting has to be designed so staff can perform their job without issue.” With many hard surfaces in healthcare facilities, eliminating glare is just one necessary consideration as it will help reduce fatigue on the eyes.

It’s not only the staff, of course, but patients too. “They are often in their rooms or being transported through corridors lying on their backs,” Stroupe says. “We’d like to avoid having something in the ceiling shining in their eyes and causing discomfort.”

Nowhere is this balance between comfort and function more important than at the Dommartinlès-Toul, a short and long-term residential facility in France for people with epilepsy. While there aren’t any operational procedures being carried out, staff need to perform regular functions such as administering medication. The importance of this cannot be overstated, as was seen in a study from the early 1990s, where pharmacists’ prescription-dispensing error rate was heavily dependent on their workspaces being sufficiently lit.

A more pressing factor for epileptics is that stress – often noise and light – can be a major trigger for seizures.

“We concentrated on soft materials,” says Atelier Martel’s co-founder, Marc Chassin. The architect implemented sound absorption materials and low, non-aggressive beam lighting. The firm worked with two artists on the project to add gentle touches such as shallow, sphered indents on the external facade to pay homage to the tablet from around 600BC, considered the first written record of epileptic symptoms. Internally, a tapestry of wool acts as a centrepiece to create warmth and comfort.

“This attention to detail is very important for the people who live there,” he says. “In the bedrooms, we have really big windows that open widely, making the space feel larger, almost like a terraced area.”

A UK study from 2013 showed that patients’ length of stay in hospital was reduced by 7.3 hours per 100lux increase of daylight and, in 1998, a study of patients in a cardiac facility’s intensive-care unit found mortality rates were higher in dimly lit rooms.

An earlier study, published in Science in 1984, found patients in rooms with windows facing trees recovered 8.5% faster and required less pain medication than those with views of a brick wall.

At CHUM, there are multiple outside areas. Beyond the obvious benefit of being a place to breathe in revitalising air, they were also designed for those inside the building. “We wanted to provide people a green and healing view,” Stroupe says. “It is a very tight urban site with amazing views of the city, but this is a little more intimate.”

Lit naturally during the day and benefitting from artificial light spilling out from the inside of the building in the evening, Schuyler says they took a minimalist approach for the terraces. “There is very little specialist lighting in those terrace spaces,” he says, “but they were supposed to be more natural and comfortable.”

When natural and artificial light shine in perfect choreography, architects manage to create a “diffused ambiance”, says Perez-Goicoechea, where different sources of light react to alter the perception of space.

Studies have shown that daylight is not necessarily superior to artificial lighting but, rather, capitalising on a combination of the two yields the best results. At the epileptic care facility in France, Chassin says different sources of light are used but often with their origin concealed, rendering illumination a general impression rather than a location-specific function. “The idea of softness is in the architecture,” Chassin says, “but also in the technical aspects of light.”

Another essential function of light is how it empowers patients. “We gave people control  over their own lighting,” Chassin says. “It is important specifically for those with epilepsy because certain sorts of lighting and frequency can cause seizures.”

Even in situations where lighting does not directly impact a patient’s medical condition, it can afford them a greater sense of empowerment.

“Patients are in a stressful environment,” Schuyler says. “A big part of promoting wellness is being able to control their environment.”

A visitor bathes in natural light at the Dommartin-lès-Toul care home.


In any healthcare facility, not least one the size of CHUM, clear navigation is essential. Staff need to find their way between departments, patients have to go for tests and therapy, and visitors wish to locate their loved ones with ease.

“Every encounter has to be understandable and clear,” Stroupe says. “The wayfinding aspect is immensely important and lighting plays a big role in how we can emphasise the passage of travel for people in this facility. Lighting needs to work to support the architectural design.”

The navigational aspect plays a huge role in epileptic patients’ comfort and orientation. In the aftermath of a seizure, patients will be muddled and confused. Using light, and external contextual cues such as the courtyards and trees outside, helps them reorient themselves, offering much needed succour.

Focusing on the human condition, architects can ensure lighting is used in healthcare centres to make the work of medical staff easier and more efficient, but also help improve the physical and psychological welfare of its patients. There may no longer be a need to invoke the power of Ra, but the benefits of light remain integral to human well-being.

Leaf Review Magazine
January 2017

The Toronto Zoo constructs a new Wildlife Healthcare Facility

The Toronto Zoo is Canada’s premier zoo and home to over 5,000 animals, including invertebrates and fish, representing 460 species from a variety of geographical regions around the world. Encompassing approximately 710 acres, the Toronto Zoo is Canada’s largest zoo and is divided into seven zoogeographic regions, ranging from the Americas, to Africa, Australasia and Eurasia.

The campus includes numerous support facilities dedicated to animal care, operations, maintenance and veterinary services. With the existing veterinary facilities dating back to 1974, the Toronto Zoo recognized the need for redevelopment and expansion. The mandate for the new Wildlife Health Centre is to provide a state-of-the-art facility for veterinary services, that will further the Toronto Zoo’s commitment to wildlife health, nutrition, species survival research, conservation and education.

Planning for the new centre commenced in 2011 with Diamond Schmitt Architects, in collaboration with animal healthcare specialists Design Level, leading the team and preparing the architectural design for the new facility.

With a total gross area of 32,000 sq. ft., the new two-storey building would be located in the centre of the Toronto Zoo’s existing animal support complex and would be constructed in the footprint of the existing veterinary services building. Adjacent service buildings, including the existing Research, Animal Holding, Quarantine, and Conservation and Biology facilities, would connect to the new Wildlife Health Centre.

Design considerations

The functional program for the new centre would have to meet a variety of objectives, including: meeting the needs of the different animal species, taking into account diverse environmental requirements for the various habitats, providing a layout that promotes the effective delivery of ongoing healthcare services and meeting the requirements of the veterinary professionals who perform these services. Eric Lucassen, Project Architect at Diamond Schmitt, notes, “Working with the Toronto Zoo to create functional programming that supports animal healthcare, while meeting the unique habitat requirements for the various animals, involved a detailed planning process.”

The facility program for the Wildlife Health Centre is split over two floor levels and consists of animal treatment and surgical areas, diagnostic imaging, an intensive care unit, laboratories, animal holding areas, offices and support spaces, and a public viewing area. Animal holding areas are further divided into spaces for small and large animals, which require ceiling-high caging to provide safety for the staff.

Surgery and diagnostic imaging spaces are centrally located and are accessible via wider corridors to facilitate the easy transport of animals into these areas. A garage is located adjacent to the surgery area, and an electric hoist and hoist beam runs from the garage to the surgery area to help the transport of larger animals.

The majority of two-storey rooms have large clerestory (windows just below the ceiling) around the perimeter of the spaces. This architectural feature allows a significant amount of daylight to enter the interior of the building and creates the feeling of being in an open, natural environment. Laboratories and support spaces are located in close proximity with animal care areas to minimize travel distances for support services.

Mechanical considerations

Given the varying functionalities and diverse environmental requirements of the different spaces, a number of innovative applications of mechanical and electrical systems were incorporated in the building’s design. The holding area for fish and reptiles required that tropical temperatures be consistently maintained throughout the year, maintaining 100% relative humidity. Electric heat tracing cable, specifically modelled for the application by Tyco Thermal Controls, was installed in the slab to ensure that the temperature in the area would be maintained during winter months. While the electric heat tracing cable maintained a heat pad for reptiles, additional radiant floor heating was used to maintain the environment and create general floor comfort for animals.

Ventilation systems in animal care areas throughout the facility rely on a continuous 100% fresh air supply, with no return air, to ensure that contaminants and excrement are not circulated through the ventilation system. A heat recovery system was provided on the exhaust air system to increase energy efficiency. Animal surgery areas utilize a dedicated supply air system, which incorporate air change requirements and filtration comparable to the requirements for a human healthcare facility. By utilizing a separate, dedicated supply air system for surgery areas, energy efficiency is maintained in areas that require fewer air changes per hour.

Other energy efficient elements in the design included the use of low flow plumbing fixtures, roofing and landscaping features that promote heat island reduction for the site and the use of insulated glazing that provides an optimal balance between daylighting and heat transfer.

Electrical and lighting requirements

Unlike hospitals where patient care equipment is standard and there are prescribed standards for electrical circuiting requirements, animal care areas have speciality equipment items, and require multiple dedicated circuits and receptacles. Additionally, animal care areas were considered wet environments, due to the frequent washing that occurs after animals are returned to their habitats.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles were used in these areas to maintain electrical safety. Lighting fixtures throughout the facility were selected to provide both illumination requirements for animal care and were vapour tight, to maintain infection control practices and protect luminaires from inadvertent spray during cleaning.

Occupancy sensors and multiple light switches were used throughout the facility to give users a wide range of automatic and manual lighting control, which allow lights to be turned off when there is enough daylight present through windows and clerestory.

To avoid interference with full height cages, architectural clerestories, and to minimize the likelihood of interaction with animals, overhead mechanical and electrical services were routed outside of animal care areas and confined to corridor spaces. This created several installation coordination issues that were resolved by the contractor, via the creation of detailed interference drawings during the construction phase of the project.

Nearing completion

The project was competitively tendered and awarded to Gillam Group Inc., with construction commencing in February 2015. The new building is in the final phases of construction and is scheduled to be complete during the first quarter of 2017.

Working on an animal healthcare facility designed to accommodate a variety of different species, with diverse requirements, proved to be a unique challenge.

While healthcare standards are readily available for hospital construction, there are minimal design and construction standards available for this type of animal care facility. Environmental standards established by the Canadian Council on Animal Care and general healthcare design experience contributed to the overall design.

Furthermore, involving the users throughout the project was critical in identifying the unique needs of various animal groups. Eric Lucassen notes, “Having the Toronto Zoo’s veterinary staff provide input into specific design requirements at every step of the project helped the design team develop innovative solutions to provide an enhanced animal care environment.” CCE


Philip Chow, P.Eng., P.E. is a senior project manager at H.H. Angus & Associates Ltd.,