Whitby Rail Maintenance

Facility holds design secrets – See why it’shealthier than your average workplace

The 500,000 square foot facility is the first LEED Gold facility of its kind and size in Canada.

The Whitby Rail Maintenance Facility (WRMF), holds many secrets.

Opened in 2018 to provide maintenance, repair and day-to-day cleaning and upkeep of GO trains, the facility, located at 625 Victoria Street East, in Whitby, not only doesn’t look like many other industrial buildings, it was built with added intentions to be healthier and greener than any typical structure.

We thought you’d like to know about how ingenious it is – and how the secrets are now very much out.

Things like skylights, daylight harvesting, and ‘clerestory’ windows – a high section of wall that contains windows above eye level – allow for natural sunlight to permeate the building. Real-time air monitoring near work areas minimizes the risks associated with health issued related to indoor air quality.

The Whitby Rail Maintenance Facility is like no other building of its type in Canada. (Brian Main photo)

Sound reduction design principles with respect to materials used, installation practices, and equipment selections reduce the amount of noise transmitted through the facility.

Even details like paint colour were considered. WRMF was painted light colours to reduce the industrial feel of the massive facility, while the offices, meeting areas and lunchrooms feature bright colors, such as soothing shades of green.

Many of the design principles used are typical when designing a hospital or university, but definitely not typical for an industrial facility. Recently, it was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold, which is a rare elevated standard. In fact, it’s the first building of its type to get that certification.

A look inside the facility, at the coach maintenance shop. (Brian Main photo)

WRMF was designed to be a people place that prioritizes the wellbeing of employees. Some of the highlights that helped WRMF reach its golden goal are:

  • Among the many green features, the WRMF will save energy by allowing sunlight through windows where they normally wouldn’t be. Occupancy sensors in the main building will also detect if an area is empty and turn off the LED lighting.
  • Facilities like this use a lot of water to wash locomotives and coaches. Stantec designed a unique and efficient washing system. Wastewater is filtered, recycled, and recirculated. Rain water will also be effectively utilized for facility services and top up for washing trains.
  • Employee physical wellbeing is encouraged. There is ample bicycle storage and a fitness area on site.
  • Outside the WRMF, a retention pond for storm water ensures that any runoff from the site ends up in the pond, and doesn’t flood the sewer system. The pond, which was coupled with another natural pond created to add green for the facility from Pringle Creek, which runs along the west side, also doubles as a green space for employees and serves as a wildlife refuge, providing a home for frogs, turtles, ducks, and fish.

WRMF was designed by Stantec using design excellence standards to intentionally achieve LEED gold status. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Tracks wait for GO trains, outside the Whitby facility. (Brian Main photo)

There are four possible levels of certification (certified, silver, gold, and platinum).

Of Muppets fame, Kermit will tell you that it’s not easy being green, but the Whitby Rail Maintenance Facility’s outdoor green spaces makes it easier for employees by giving them a place to lunch, meet, or just relax in a park-like area.

Their workplace was designed to be like few others.

Story by Stacey Kenny, Metrolinx Communications senior advisor.

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