< Browse more articles

Montrealers have nearly forgotten that night in 1998 when part of the roof fell on the Subaru exhibit at the auto show. And they have almost given up on the idea that the Montreal Alouettes might ever return. But believe it or not, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal has been fully modernized, and the engineers on the project have won ASHRAE awards for excellence.

Built in the mid 1970s, it is known as the most over-budget architectural project in history, that started with a $148 million budget. This rose quickly to $264 million, and then kept growing until it reached $1.61 billion. Today it hosts the home show and the occasional AC/DC rock concert, so in 2013 when it asked for money to upgrade HVAC systems, there was very little public support.

In 2019 ASHRAE recognized Engineers Dominic Desjardins, Maurice Landry and André-Benoît Allard at its winter conference, in the Existing Public Assembly category for the stadium’s Integrated Performance Contracting Project.

The Big O brain trust had searched for and found Ecosystem from Quebec City, a company that is fully fluent in modern, cleaner HVAC systems, and perhaps more importantly, provides contractually guaranteed energy savings.

The internal team, along with Ecosystem’s Simon Verville converted the stadium’s old steam system to hot water, plus new heat recovery chillers, new variable speed pumps, and replaced pneumatic controls with a contemporary system, integrating equipment through 20,000+ control points. They updated the lighting. They applied for clean-tech incentives. They installed a full time commissioning engineer. Actual energy savings are about $1.5M per year.

The ASHRAE awards are prestigious. They are presented to industry professionals from all over the globe. Our Olympic Stadium engineers were winners this year, and two other Canadians were recognized as Fellows: Arthur A. Irwin, from Halifax, and Elbert (Bert) Phillips, P.Eng. from Winnipeg. Congratulations to these distinguished industry leaders!