Manitoba Hydro Place

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Manitoba Hydro Place at Dusk

Manitoba Hydro Place (MHP) is the head office of Manitoba Hydro, the electric power and natural gas utility in Manitoba, Canada. Located in Winnipeg and officially opened in September 2009, it was the first LEED Platinum office tower in Canada and among the most efficient office towers in North America. By using an integrated design process, building energy use was minimized for Manitoba’s climate. Consuming 88 kWh/m2, Manitoba Hydro Place uses 60% less energy than the Model National Energy Code for Buildings and 73% less energy than the standard office tower in Winnipeg. MHP houses two thousand employees on 21 floors. Unique attributes of this building include North America’s largest solar chimney providing 100% fresh air at all times, Manitoba’s largest geothermal heating and cooling system, and the world’s first “reversed” double façade optimized for a cold climate.


• 2002 - Manitoba Hydro purchases Winnipeg Hydro and commits to construct an office building of at least 37,000 square metres in downtown Winnipeg. Planning Starts

• December 2003 - New downtown office site selected

• April 2005 - Design concept selected for Downtown Office

• August 2005 - Building construction begins

• December 2008 - First employees start work at Manitoba Hydro Place

• September 2009 - Manitoba Hydro Place officially opens

• May 2012 – Manitoba Hydro Place is officially certified LEED Platinum


360 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada {{#display_map:360 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada | height= 400px| width= 400px}}


When Manitoba Hydro purchased Winnipeg Hydro in 2002, one condition of the purchase was that Manitoba Hydro must commit to construct a downtown office building of at least 37000 m². This clause was inserted into the purchase agreement by then-mayor Glen Murray. Prior to this, Manitoba Hydro’s office staff were located exclusively in suburban areas of the southern part of Winnipeg. Many of these staff were located in relatively small groups in disparate lease spaces. A key motivator of the downtown office project for Manitoba Hydro was to foster better productivity by moving a large number of staff under a single roof. Also, the downtown office project would allow Manitoba Hydro to divest itself of several leased buildings.


At the outset of the design process for Manitoba Hydro Place, the integrated design team established a project charter with six main goals:

  • Supportive workplace for employees, supporting their health and productivity
  • Energy efficiency, with a goal of 60% better than a reference building according to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB)
  • High level of sustainability
  • Signature architecture
  • Good integration with the urban context
  • Cost-effective

It is important to note that MHP was not designed and built with the primary goal of energy efficiency, even though this has been much talked about. First and foremost, the goal of the project was to provide a high quality of interior space for the staff of Manitoba Hydro. It was important to the design team to prove that a high quality space can be energy efficient and sustainable.

Manitoba Hydro place uses many unique systems to improve efficiency and workplace environment. These systems were designed during the integrated design process to maximize efficiency. Some of these systems include:

Double Façade and Design

Double Facade

MHP has the world’s first double façade which consists of a double glazed outer wall and single glazed inner wall. This is a reversal of the first double façade designs developed in Europe, which consist of the insulated glazing on the inner surface. At MHP, there is a 1 metre interstitial space in between the glass facades. The double façade offer several advantages to the office building. First, the double façade functions as a type of “dynamic insulation” which reduces heat loss. The greenhouse effect allows the interstitial space to quickly heat up during the day in winter. With the inner and outer façade layers sealed, the interstitial space will normally reach temperatures of 20°C, even while it is -30°C outside. In the summer, the façade is fully ventilated through automated operable windows to prevent any overheating in the interstitial space.

The double façade also supports the ventilation concept for the building. In response to external conditions as measured by the building’s integrated weather station, the automated external windows will open and employees are encouraged to open the manual windows on the inner façade for natural ventilation. This natural ventilation mode is in operation for about a third of annual occupied hours.

The double façade, with its high glazing ratio and ultra clear low-iron glass, supports good daylighting and access to views for the staff. The 3.3m clear height office loft, in combination with a narrow floorplate means that the entire office loft has good daylighting. Solar and glare control shades are also located within the double façade. This significantly improves the solar control performance, and reduces maintenance requirements by minimizing exposure to occupants and the exterior. The double façade also enhances flexibility of the loft space, as structural columns have been moved into the interstitial space. This leaves a totally open office loft for future flexibility.

Solar Chimney and 100% Fresh Air at All Times

Outside Windows

Manitoba Hydro Place draws in air from the southern face of our building into the south wintergardens. During the summer and shoulder seasons automated vents in the wintergarden bring fresh air in passively. During the winter, air drawn in mechanically and preconditioned. The wintergardens function as “lungs of the building”, with passive solar heating of the supply air. It is then distributed through the raised floor distribution system. The solar chimney, located at the northern end of the building, uses a natural stack effect to create a pressure difference in the building, pulling all air towards itself. During the summer and shoulder seasons the chimney will be opened and air will be exhausted naturally. During the winter the chimney will be closed and the exhaust air will be drawn into the parkade for heating purposes. The exhaust air will also be used as heating for conditioning the air drawn in by the fan coils.


Geothermal System

The foundation of the building’s heating and cooling system is the geothermal system, a closed loop system consisting of 280 boreholes, six inches in diameter, 400 feet deep, interspersed between the building's foundation piles and caissons. Each borehole contains tubing filled with gylcol encased in thermally enhanced grout. In summer the glycol extracts heat from the building and returns it to the ground. The same type of heat drawn from the earth is used to warm the radiant slabs during colder temperatures. The geothermal conditioned glycol passes through a complex series of heat pumps and exchangers to maximize efficiency. Conditioned water is circulated in tubes in the exposed ceiling slabs, providing 100% of the temperature conditioning. In the winter the process is reversed. Through this radiant heating system, the geothermal installation provides approximately 60% of the heating with high energy efficient condensing boilers providing the balance during the coldest months.

Water Features

Water Feature in Atrium

To regulate humidity each of the 3 south atria which stand 6 storeys high, hold water features. Each water feature measures 24m high and consists of 280 mylar ribbons which are 4mm wide. The ribbons run floor to ceiling and the total surface area is approximately 53 m2. In the summer, cool water is ran through the closed system to lower the humidity and the opposite happens in the winter, warm water is used to humidify the air. The atrium also contains a large water feature, regulating its humidity.

Interesting Facts

• Over 35,000 cubic metres of concrete are used in the building. That would fill more than 6,400 standard cement trucks

• As foundation work began in 2006, discovery of a rising water table forced the elimination of one -underground level. Many of the systems originally planned for the basement had to be relocated to the building's mechanical penthouse. The building's foundation also had to be substantially redesigned. The integrated design process made it much easier to make these necessary, unforeseen changes.

• Over 13 000 people have toured Manitoba Hydro Place, including people from Saudi Arabia, Germany and China.

• Manitoba Hydro Place is 115 metres tall, including the solar chimney.

• Manitoba Hydro place has 64,590 square metres of floor space.

Awards and Honours

First LEED Platinum office tower in North America

• 2009 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s Best Tall Building Americas award. At the time, CTBUH said Manitoba Hydro Place "was designed to be completely site specific. The design could not be transplanted to another city and still work, thus making it the perfect response to the seeming homogenization of the world's skylines."

• 2008 IBS Award, Highly Commended

• 2009 Building of the Year, Office Category by Arch Daily

• 2010 American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE), Top Ten Green Buildings

• 2010 Sustainable Architecture & Building Magazine Award, Project Winner

• 2010 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, National Urban Design Award

• 2010 the SAB (Sustainable Architecture and Building) Canadian Green Building Award

• Engineers Canada – National Project Achievement Award

• 2010 ACEC Canadian Consulting Engineering Award – Buildings

• 2011 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Innovation in Architecture

• Canadian Consulting Engineering – Award of Excellence

Key Players

• KPMB Project Team Leader: Bruce Kuwabara

• Architect of Record: Smith Carter Architects

• Energy-Climate Engineers: Transsolar Climate Engineering

• Structural Engineers: Halcrow Yolles, Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd.

• Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Earth Tech Canada Inc.

• Water Feature Consultant: Dan Euser WaterArchitecture inc.

• Geotechnical Engineer: Hydrogeolist, UMA Engineering, Dyregrov Consultants

• Construction Manager: PCL Constructors Canada

• Advocate Architect: Prairie Architects Inc.


  • Integrated Design in Contemporary Architecture, Kiel Moe
  • Best Tall Buildings 2009, Antony Wood
  • The Sourcebook of Contemporary Green Architecture, Duran Costa
  • Tall Buildings The 2010 CTBUH Reference Guide, Antony Wood
  • Powering the Province, Sixty Years of Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Hydro
  • The Green Studio Handbook: Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design, Walter Grondzik
  • Vitamin Green, Joshua Bolchover
  • Perspecta 45: Agency, Kurt Evans, Iben Haffner, Ian Mills
  • Details, Technology, and Form, Christine Killory, Rene Davids
  • Top Canadian Contemporary Architects, Zhang Yuhua
  • Som Journal 7, Nicholas Adams