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Architectural lighting brings industrial building to life as part of City of Montreal rejuvenation project

September 11, 2023

Valeco Energie Québec Inc. is a renewable energy development company found on the edge of Frédérick-Back park in Montreal. Valeco acts as the operators of the Biomont Energy cogeneration plant in the Saint-Michel environmental complex, which recovers biogas from the former landfill site and transforms it into green energy.

“The park used to be a quarry,” explains Clément Rocher, Operations Manager with Valeco Energie. “When it stopped functioning as a quarry, it was used as a landfill.”

In the 90s, the City of Montreal converted the whole site. All the domestic waste was buried and sealed, wells were installed to gather the biogas released from decomposition, and the area was slowly modified into a large recreation park.

The power generated from the combustion of the biogas is converted to electricity and supplies 2000 homes in the area. “Not only do we produce electricity, but as a byproduct of running our engines, we produce thermal energy,” Rocher explains. This heat is used to supply hot water to neighbours, including the Cirque Du Soleil headquarters and TOHU.

Recently, the area has seen significant aesthetic investment from the City of Montreal to make it more appealing for residents both by day and night. As part of the City’s rejuvenation efforts, Biomont was approached with an architectural façade lighting design. The proposed design featured lighting from above of the building’s vertical blue channels with white light, partnered with a wash of blue light for the north-face (park-side) of the facility’s flare.

“My job was to look for quotes and find the company that could lead the project to completion,” Rocher says. “That ended up being Concept Illumination.”

Architectural lighting on this type of building is uncommon. The City had already supplied the lighting concept, but executing the design required creative analysis.

“A lot of thought went into selecting the right fixtures and accessories, and of course, the installation,” says Daniel Herz, Director of Sales for Concept Illumination. “The space available for the fixtures being installed on the façade was very narrow—it wasn’t easy to find a fixture small enough to fit, but also powerful enough to get the job done. The building is quite tall and certain areas were not easily accessible.”

With fixtures selected, Concept Illumination returned to the site multiple times to take measurements and to perform nighttime mockups with samples.

“Before the project started, Daniel came with the actual fixtures we would use, so we could test what they would look like. From the get-go, we could see it would be a success,” Rocher says.

New wiring was installed to power 15 compact architectural LED flood lights on the building’s north, south, and west sides. A 5000K colour temperature was chosen to accentuate the blue channels and a very narrow, 5-degree lens was used to reduce the light spill from inside the channel onto the building’s corrugated siding.

Fifteen existing fixtures installed above the architectural flood lights were removed so that their light would not overpower that of the new fixtures, and colour matched plates were installed to cover the holes left behind by the previous installations.

Underground wiring and 2 new concrete bases were installed and fitted with blue architectural LED flood lights to light up the flare. The 13 remaining functional fixtures on the façade were replaced with LED wall packs, also in 5000K, to maintain colour consistency throughout.

During the project, wiring which was thought to be in place was found to no longer be there, or had been cut and required repair.

“Daniel and his team visited the property several times to verify the electrical systems,” Rocher says. “From the onset, Daniel was very transparent and professional. He offered a slightly bigger budget to be sure that if unforeseen issues arose, we wouldn’t have to pay extra. He made provisions in that regard which were very much appreciated, because unsurprisingly, there were things that needed to be changed.”

The window to order, deliver, and install materials before the construction holiday was tight. Completed on July 21, 2023, the project took approximately two weeks despite delays caused by some bad weather.

According to Rocher, the City of Montreal is pleased with the results: “They were delighted that everything was completed within the required time frame and are happy with the results. I will recommend working with Concept Illumination again.”

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