Cobalt Engineering LLP
For OpenRoad Auto Group Ltd.—one of Canada’s largest and fastest growing automotive groups—the decision to build a 70,000 square-foot BMW and Mini dealership in Langley, BC was not if, but how. The city’s higher than average household incomes, lack of luxury car brands and high growth rate made it a ripe opportunity for the $15 million dollar investment. In addition, an ideal location for the dealership lay at the city’s entrance—an intersection that sees about 52,000 vehicles daily.
However, the same benefits that first attracted OpenRoad to Langley also posed significant challenges about how to build the dealership. On the one hand, the company recognized the importance of utilizing an impressive glass façade to drive maximum visibility to the BMWs and Minis on display in the showroom. Building with glass is cheaper and easier to install than other materials and would give the building an attractive and modern feel, leaving a favorable impression with anyone entering—or even driving by—the city. Yet glass is also one of the poorest insulating materials around, and a lack of energy efficiency would sharply contrast with Langley’s forward-thinking reputation and ongoing focus on sustainability.
On top of that, the BMW Mini Langley dealership is part of The Collection—a highly-anticipated 16-acre mixed use development made up of retail stores, offices, and eventually, other dealerships. City officials and stakeholders have already referred to the property as the future icon of Langley and the surrounding areas.
For architects and engineers tasked with building the dealership, the challenge was how to build the facility so that it benefits OpenRoad and the luxury car brands while also supporting the city of Langley’s master plan to become one of the most sustainable and widely recognized cities in BC.
Introducing Low-H2O Technology
In order to satisfy OpenRoad’s and Langley’s commitment to sustainability, architects and engineers installed more than thirty Mini Canals—some up to three meters in length— from Jaga Climate Systems. Discreetly embedded into the floor, the Mini Canal is a powerful trench heating solution featuring Jaga’s innovative, low-H20 technology. Hidden beneath the grille, each Mini Canal features a low mass, low water heat exchanger that reacts rapidly to temperature fluctuations. The system, which uses 90% less water and significantly less mass than traditional exchangers, heats faster, more uniformly and more precisely than conventional exchangers, resulting in significant energy savings. In addition, each Mini Canal can be controlled individually for optimal temperature control; if one side of the BMW Mini dealership gets warmer because of the sun, the canals can be adjusted accordingly.
“When we first heard about Jaga’s Energy Savers collection, we were immediately interested,” said John Burke, Mechanical Designer at Cobalt Engineering LLP. “The Mini Canals not only bring aesthetic appeal and performance, they eliminate a lot of the problems associated with glass-rich designs—especially the cold, downward airflow that generally plagues floor to ceiling glazing.”
Unlike most buildings with extensive exterior glass, the BMW Mini dealership enjoys a warm curtain of air as a result of the Mini Canals: the cold layer from the glass and the cooler return air on the floor are drawn in, heated and mixed with the warmer upper air for a balanced, even temperature.
Blending Performance, Versatility and Aesthetics
One of the biggest and most significant benefits achieved by the Mini Canals was its role in “greening” the dealership. Building codes in Vancouver have changed dramatically in recent years—with a lot of emphasis on sustainability, conservation and “carbon-neutral” construction. With this in mind, engineers and architects in Langley wanted to be as proactive as possible when designing the dealership for sustainability. The Mini Canals from Jaga substantially reduce energy consumption, resulting in lower CO2 levels and much cheaper fuel bills. The low-H20 technology enables the canals to respond rapidly to temperature fluctuations. During the winter, the dealership isn’t at risk for overheating, a condition caused by running the heat at night without adjusting for next day sun loads. This significantly reduces the need to “spot cool” and then reheat the dealership, which greatly reduces heating costs.
Other benefits include aesthetics, safety and convenience. Extremely easy to install and level with the floor, the Mini Canals complement the contemporary, modern look of the interior and leave the nearby glazing completely clear of condensation. For protection and endurance, engineers and architects selected Jaga’s Designo Rigid Aluminum Grilles—a rust-free product painted with UV-resistant polyester lacquer.
In addition, the bars of the grilles are evenly spaced and close together, providing a safe surface for high heels, wheelchairs and canes, and the canals are structurally sound enough that cars can drive over it without causing damage. To prevent noise, engineers simply cushioned the canals with foam upon installation.
The result is an eye-catching and energy-efficient dealership that prominently showcases the luxury cars on display and supports the City of Langley’s quest for increased sustainability.