Library and Archives Canada’s new preservation centre to be first “net-zero carbon” facility of its kind

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Plenary Properties Gatineau (PPG) consortium, which is responsible for constructing a second preservation centre in Gatineau, Quebec, have revealed the design of the building that will be located directly behind the current Preservation Centre.

Library and Archives Canada reveals the first federal net zero carbon facility dedicated to archival preservation.

According to LAC, in many ways, the new building will set a global standard, following the example of the existing Preservation Centre, which is Canada’s pride and the envy of other memory institutions at home and abroad.

The new preservation centre will be the first “net-zero carbon” facility dedicated to archival preservation in the Americas, and the first federal building constructed to the requirements of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy. The main features of a net-zero carbon building are:

  • minimal carbon emissions from energy consumption, achieved through building design and efficiency measures;
  • energy needs met through carbon-free fuel sources; and
  • minimal embodied carbon in building materials.

It will also be the world’s largest preservation facility equipped with a high-tech automated archive storage and retrieval system. This means that our precious national collections will be kept under optimal preservation conditions.

“This new, state-of-the-art preservation facility in the National Capital Region will help Canada remain a leader in the preservation and promotion of our invaluable documentary heritage. Our government is confident that this preservation centre will solidify Library and Archives Canada’s place at the forefront of preservation throughout the world, for the benefit of present and future generations,” said the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism.

The PPG proposal was selected for this public-private partnership because it meets all of the required technical criteria and can be implemented at the best possible cost to taxpayers. The consortium will:

  • design, build and finance the new building;
  • optimize storage space in the current Preservation Centre; and
  • operate and maintain both facilities.

Steven MacKinnon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility added, “Our government is proud to be a part of this important infrastructure project. The new Library and Archives Canada preservation centre project will create good middle-class jobs, foster innovation and protect the environment, all while improving services for Canadians and creating an iconic new building in the Gatineau landscape.”

The ultra-modern facility will increase LAC’s capacity to store Canadian archives and resolve the critical shortage of space expected in the very near future. Construction will begin in 2019 and lead to the creation of hundreds of new jobs, with the opening expected in 2022.

“This new flagship building, which will accompany the award-winning and world-class Preservation Centre in Gatineau, is yet another testament to Library and Archives Canada being able to set itself apart in opting for a green and sustainable infrastructure. Once built, this new state-of-the-art facility will ensure the preservation and accessibility of our rich collection of treasures for centuries and for generations to come,” said Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Quick facts

  • By pursuing a sustainable, green approach, LAC has significantly reduced its environmental footprint since 2011. It has cut its number of preservation spaces from 22 to 5, while shrinking their total area from 237,000 to 124,000 square metres and maximizing the space used.
  • Construction of the new preservation facility, optimization of the current Preservation Centre vaults, and project funding will cost approximately $330 million. This amount does not include the operating and maintenance costs of the two facilities over 30 years.
  • Although LAC is adding new, essential space to meet its current and future needs for the storage and preservation of analogue documentary heritage (including official federal government records, for which it is the continuing memory), it continues to make significant strides in digitizing its collection to achieve greater accessibility.
  • The public will be able to consult LAC’s collections while this work progresses, apart from a few brief service interruptions.
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