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Photo: Josh Kjenner


When it comes to sustainability, Edmonton—known more as the capital of dirty oil than for green design—is a paradox. The city’s suburbs creep further each year into Alberta’s best agricultural land and the car still dominates urban planning. Yet surprisingly, Edmonton is also home to more net-zero residences than any other city in Canada. The waste management program designed in Edmonton is a model other cities around the world come to study. In the midst of this stands the newly opened, ultra-sustainably designed Mosaic Centre.
A paradox in and of itself, Mosaic stands in the far south of Edmonton, just east of a section of the Queen Elizabeth Highway used by 90,000 cars daily. Its neighbours include low-density, low-rise commercial buildings, oversized single-family suburban homes, and vacant lots waiting to be paved into parking. That being said, Mosaic aims to be the first Living Building Challenge certified project in Alberta. As an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) build—one of the first in Edmonton—it was both 5% under budget and 30% ahead of schedule. It is also one of the world’s first net-zero energy commercial buildings in a cold climate. [1]

The Integrated Project Delivery Process (IPD) is a non-traditional framework that turns individual participants – consultants, engineers and contractors – into collaborative team members. The IPD approach ensures that the whole project team shares responsibility for planning and execution, contractually aligning the team with a united vision for the completed project. 

As a net zero building, the priMED Mosaic Centre generates as much energy on-site as it consumes annually. Its high performance building envelope and minimal mechanical/electrical systems work together to form an integrated response to the building’s physical environment. Photovoltaic panels cover the majority of the roof to provide electricity while a geo-thermal system provides heating and cooling. All tenants of the building have signed “green leases,” which require them to choose sustainable materials when completing leasehold improvements, take measures to reduce their energy and water requirements, and to conduct their business in an environmentally conscious way. [2]

Mosaic represents a community of diversity and it stands as a model for how people can work together to achieve a high-aiming vision. In some ways, that brings us back to Mosaic’s paradox: that it stands in the midst of a suburb in a city bent to feed off the profits of oil extraction. Perhaps it is intentional that Mosaic exists in direct contrast to its surroundings. To be an environmentally sustainable project is not enough though, even if the numbers work— [Project Architect Vedran Skopac] argues that these places need to be beautiful and that “beauty is a survival skill.” He believes people won’t necessarily protect something because it is sustainable—they will protect it because they find it beautiful. As a community, Mosaic strives to present environmental design as not only necessary, but necessarily beautiful. [1]


Emerald Awards. Award in Innovation, 2017
Canadian Institute of Steel Construction Award, Collaboration, 2015


[1]      Webber, Brandon. “Green to the Max: Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce, Edmonton, Alberta.” Canadian Architect, July 3, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/1003730699/.

[2]      “FAQs.” priMED Mosaic Centre in south Edmonton, Alberta. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.primedmosaiccentre.com/faqs/.

Additional information

“How We Did It: Volume 1 – Unplanned Collaborations.” priMED Mosaic Centre in south Edmonton, Alberta. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://www.primedmosaiccentre.com/how-we-did-it/volume-1-unplanned-collaborations/.

“Mosaic Center for Conscious Community & Commerce.” Think Wood, September 11, 2020. https://www.thinkwood.com/projects/mosaic-center-conscious-community-commerce.

“Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce.” Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce – Manasc Isaac Architects. Accessed June 10, 2021. https://manascisaac.com/work/the-mosaic-centre-for-conscious-community-and-commerce.

“Mosaic Centre Opens in Edmonton.” Canadian Architect, March 3, 2015. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/mosaic-centre-opens-in-edmonton/.

“PriMED Mosaic Centre Achieves LEED Platinum Certification.” GlobeNewswire News Room. priMED Medical Products, October 10, 2017. https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/10/10/1143597/0/en/priMED-Mosaic-Centre-Achieves-LEED-Platinum-Certification.html.

Project Title: Mosaic Centre for Conscious Community and Commerce
Artists:  Manasc Isaac Architects
Place: Edmonton, AB

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