Back in 1987 when a group of folk music enthusiasts created the West End Cultural Centre (WECC) in Manitoba, a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting music outside the mainstream, an old church in Winnipeg seemed the perfect place to call home. That church became a serious liability in 2003, however, when structural engineers informed the WECC that major problems with the 95-year-old building could no longer be ignored.
Luckily, local business owners and supporters stepped up with the funds for a major renovation, and in 2008, the organization embarked on the process of gutting the old building and rebuilding to LEED standards. That hard work and goodwill on the part of volunteers and supporters has now paid off in the form of LEED Silver certification, which was recently awarded to the WECC by the U.S. Green Building Council.
As befitting a nonprofit, community-based organization, WECC approached the design of the new building via a collaborative, integrated process that involved a wide range of stakeholders, including architects and engineers, staff members, patrons, technicians, musicians and members of the local community.
The design of the venue incorporates a number of energy saving features, including a geothermal heating system (expected to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling by an estimated 30 percent), low flow toilets, high efficiency windows, and upgraded insulation. Much of the construction materials used on site were made with recycled materials—most distinctively, perhaps, the bathroom countertops, which were created out of toilets and sinks, as well as wine and beer bottles, all recycled locally.