The decision to use polished concrete to meet LEED Silver guidelines when designing a new public safety building was natural for Janet Stewart, the lead architect at Thomas Brown Architects of Toronto. “Thomas Brown Architects has always been driven by a philosophy of sustainable design and architecture, even before the structure of LEED was developed,” she says.
The architect was commissioned to deliver Ontario’s first facility that combines the operations for police, fire, and ambulance under one roof. The 30,000-square-foot Clair Road Emergency Services Center includes 12,000 square feet of nonemergency police services, a six-bay 10,000-square-foot fire hall, and a five-bay 7500-square-foot ambulance station.
The facility’s main workhorses are the bays that house the emergency vehicles. High-shine polished concrete was specified for this area. When investigating flooring options, Stewart and her team chose the Winn Concrete Surfaces Floor System, a proprietary concrete polishing system. “Polished concrete fits perfectly into our LEED philosophy,” says Stewart. “It contributes to Indoor Air Quality and Materials and Resources categories by virtue of its ability to be regional and recycled, and have low VOC content.”
The floor requires minimal maintenance and its slip resistance promotes safety. The reflection off the vehicles makes the interior of the bays look like art galleries. “It’s good for staff morale,” Stewart adds.
Stewart stresses the importance of providing a properly cured and finished floor in preparation for the polishing. An uneven cure or a floor that is not flat can create an uneven final appearance. Curing and finishing affects the ability of the polishing contractor to grind and polish correctly. In the case of a wet cure, a low spot will hold moisture longer and cure out harder than the rest of the slab.
For this project, Thomas Brown Architects benefited from working with Chad Marek at Winn Concrete Surfaces, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, a partner on previous installations. Marek brought in an experienced polishing team and educated his client on the densifying and polishing processes.
“Each floor is different,” Marek says. “We have the ability to combine the right choice of diamond tooling with the correct choice of densifier and impregnating repellent if required.” Every decision was made to meet the city’s specific needs, such as minimizing tire marking.
In the end, the city received a high-performance, easily maintained floor so emergency personnel could focus on the important services they provide to the residents of Guelph.