evolv1, A Smart Building

The Cora Group

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

The Cora Group's innovation is developing and managing Class A office space that focuses on sustainability by using state of the art LEED building principles. evolv1 is a building that produces a net positive energy output. And all this energy is sustainably produced using solar panels.

Authors

Lydia Boonstra

Lydia Boonstra

Mounther Shorbaji

Mounther Shorbaji

Tara Lalani

Tara Lalani

Lee Skwarek

Lee Skwarek

Michelle Cimpan

Michelle Cimpan

School

University of Guelph

University of Guelph

Professor

Ruben Burga

Ruben Burga

Innovation

The Cora group has been developing sustainable buildings for 15 years now. Their newest innovation, evolv1, is a building that is energy-neutral. They produce all their own energy through solar panels and developed a smart system to heat the building. By using triple pane windows the building is better insulated. For the heating of the building, The Cora Group developed a new system that can transport warm air from one side of the room to a colder spot in the room. This way no extra energy is needed to heat the space.

The Cora Group is a small family company, started by Manfred Conrad and now run by Adrian Conrad. Years ago, Manfred and his wife visited Freiburg, Germany and they were so impressed by the level of sustainability in this city. They decided to figure out a way to incorporate this into their real estate business. Now The Cora Group develops Class A offices that are sustainable.

The evolv1 building by The Cora Group is a great example of how technology can create sustainable solutions. The evolv1 building produces clean energy, takes climate action and creates sustainable cities and communities in the long run. These initiatives aligns with SDGs 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13.

evolv1, A Smart Building

Inspiration

The Cora Group has been developing and designing sustainable buildings for 15 years now. It all began after a trip to Freiburg, Germany. They were impressed with the country’s overall sustainability within an urban environment. The question was then presented; why can’t we accomplish a sustainable standard of living similar to that of Germany’s here in Canada? From that point on The Cora Group began researching and eventually developing sustainable office buildings throughout the Waterloo area adopting sustainable building features before they were considered a popular option throughout the real estate development business.

The creation and construction of evolv1 has been motivated by a need to provide sustainable office spaces and provide a work area that is an enjoyable working environment which includes an open working space, many large windows allowing natural light to enter freely resulting in a welcoming office space. “I want to show that you can create a space that has great windows, the mechanical, the comfort, the air quality, all those things are by-products of Cora creating a better building and those are all things that you should be asking for, and at the end of the day it just happens to be highly sustainable”. Mr A. Conrad states that he finds enjoyment in the problem-solving aspect of real estate development and has approached the topic of sustainable buildings as an important area of improvement within the real estate business. Ultimately, The Cora Group strives to do their part in developing a sustainable living standard and has been very successful with a variety of existing buildings they have designed.

Overall impact

The evolv1 building was created together with stakeholders. Early in the design process, stakeholders were invited to give input in the planning of the new building. The main reason was to create a building that was functional and that stayed within the budget. Because of this, it was agreed on that the building was built to be energy-neutral and functional. The heating system only works if tenants are okay with the planned temperature. Another nice example of how the tenants are involved in the project was when the EV charging stations were installed. Some tenants showed concern about whether there were enough stations for all the tenants now and in the future.

The evolv1 building is very much one big learning lab for everybody as it is close to the university and students can see how sustainability is applied just by walking into the building. Their buildings are public spaces with features including a three-story living wall as a central element. This is meant to encourage people to talk about sustainability because we can only be effective in our way towards sustainability if everyone does their part. The public space is there to invite people to create awareness about sustainability and to get people talking.

In the long-term, evolv1 can be an example for other real estate developers on how to be more sustainable. The Cora Group are currently pioneers as they create their own system in order to solve the problems they face. In the long-term this can inspire other companies and these innovations can be improved.

Business benefit

Because The Cora Group started to explore the opportunities for sustainable buildings, they created their own knowledge and expertise. They are the first real estate developers in the area that focus on sustainability and created their own market for the future. At the moment their price is not higher than normal real estate because there is not yet a separate market for sustainable real estate. But as The Cora Group anticipates, energy prices will rise, which gives their energy neutral buildings a big advantage over their competitors.

The evolv1 building is a LEED platinum candidate. This shows the outside world how The Cora Group implements the best sustainable building principles in their products. It also helps them to create more awareness about sustainability. Besides creating awareness, The Cora Group wants to stimulate entrepreneurship. By incorporating new innovations of start-ups in their buildings they give back to the community of Waterloo and Kitchener. An example of this is the living wall in the public space of evolv1 which was created by a local start-up called Livescape. Both companies share the passion of creating sustainable designs. That is why The Cora Group asked Livescape to create the wall in their public space.

Social and environmental benefit

The buildings by The Cora Group are all pathbreaking in their own way. Every building is more sustainable than the previous one. Companies like The Cora Group are very important to drive innovation that can benefit society. For example, the heating system The Cora Group created can be implemented in houses in the future. Not only can the innovations benefit people, also the impact The Cora Group has on sustainability awareness is worth mentioning. The tenants of evolv1, as well as any visitors, are reminded of sustainability by walking into the building and seeing the giant wall of plants.

The environment is benefiting because the buildings are sustainable and energy-neutral in a big way - less resources are extracted from the earth for the building process and less resources are used to heat the building during its lifetime. No carbon emission takes place because of the use of clean energy. And if the involvement of different stakeholders during the design phase was as good as The Cora Group thinks, this building will be functional and used for many years to come!

Interview

Adrian Conrad, COO

Adrian Conrad, COO

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The Cora Group

The Cora Group

Waterloo, Ontario, CA

Business Website: http://www.coragroup.com/

Year Founded: 1978

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

The Cora Group is a real estate manager & developer that provides Class A office spaces with smart and sustainable features. Their newest building evolv1 has a net positive energy output which means it creates more energy than it uses.