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Facelift for Bellanca building

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - The Yellowknife skyline will look a little different as the Bellanca building on 50 street gets a new look.

The slight change in colour is just the surface of the work being done by Hovat Construction. The biggest change will be an estimated 30 per cent energy savings cost as the building gets upgraded with the latest technology in insulation.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Gerry Larkin, a construction worker for Hovat Construction, operates the FRACO scaffolding system at the downtown Bellanca building. The system is being used for the first time in the NWT as the building undergoes $1 million in renovations. - Christine Grimard/NNSL photo

The $1 million renovation cost is going into the building envelope, essentially the outside and the insulation. Darin Benoit, property manager for the Bellanca Group, said the work should save them 30 per cent on their energy bills.

"It's been on the plate for a while," said Benoit, noting plans for the renovation were well under way before the city's recent initiatives to promote more energy efficient buildings.

Eric Sputek, president of Hovat Construction, said that the building was typical of its era in 1972 in having poor insulation with plenty of holes.

"In 1972, vapour and air barriers and insulation were not a big issue. We can see this when we pull the building apart," said Sputek.

He said the building will meet the city's new standards.

"I'm sure the city's looking at this and they're smiling," said Sputek. "It's right in line with what they want to do."

The city passed a motion July 23 for higher standards in new constructions as part of the city's Community Energy Plan.

To insulate in line with the latest technology available, Hovat subcontracted Energy Wall to install the insulation.

Manuel Jorge, vice president of Energy Wall, said the company is using Walltite, a spray-on foaming applied on the entire outside of the building. This provides an air barrier, insulation and vapour barrier, giving maximum energy efficiency.

While this kind of technology costs a little more during construction, Jorge said it can reduce fuel costs by up to 40 per cent.

"It's been my goal for years to provide affordable housing," said Jorge. "Affordable housing for me is not so much what you pay at the beginning, but long-term maintenance."

Using the latest technology in construction saves both money and time. Sputek is using a novel scaffolding system to shave off some work time.

The FRACO scaffolding system is a long platform with two elevating devices, allowing the platform to rise and fall at the push of a button.

This is the first time the FRACO scaffolding system is being used in the NWT. The system can be set up and taken down in just three days, versus a week for a usual scaffolding system. The platform is also useful in lifting up supplies, as it can carry up to 8,000 pounds in workers and materials.

Sputek expects renovations on the building to be done by Sept. 30.