Reference Sites

BC Cancer Research Facility (Canada)

Building Automation for BC Cancer Research Facility


The BC Cancer research facility is one of Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities most recent building additions to the Vancouver General Hospitals campus. This building is considered one of the most advanced of its kind and is instrumental in producing some of the latest discoveries in a finding a cure for cancer. The building architecture is unique and is easily identifiable by the windows in the stairwells that replicate a DNA String.

The BC Cancer Research project was a competitively bid project that incorporated the installation and on-going maintenance of the Building Automation System which included energy management and lighting control. There were a few challenges inherent in the project. Our first concern was building a network of Direct Digital Control panels that could communicate effectively considering this network would consist of close to 500 panels. In addition, it was essential due to the stringent parameters of the research that the building system had backups. When you have a DDC panel layout this large, the key is keeping communication traffic under control. To achieve this ESC Automation used a high speed Ethernet backbone for all the primary control panels and installed redundant Ethernet cabling with smart switches. In the event that one of the Ethernet cables gets disconnected, the smart switch would automatically change over to the alternate Ethernet cable without any effect on the building operation.

The owner chose to use a lot of different equipment vendors (Air Handlers, Chillers, etc), that used their own proprietary protocols. The Chiller integration was through the Ethernet BACnet™ protocol connection and through it it is possible to see all the normal control points plus an array of internal information from the chiller that could normally only be seen from the chiller control panel.

Predicting of what level of slab heat and cooling to provide would prove to be a challenge. To achieve this, ESC Automation used calculations based on outdoor air temperature and estimated building thermodynamics, this allowed us to anticipate what the slab set points were to be 72hrs in advance. The Chiller is used in spring, summer, and fall to provide simultaneous heating cooling. Instead of pumping the warm condenser water from the chiller to the cooling tower, it is routed to a heat exchanger and used to heat the building as the heating system was designed for 40 Deg C. This has proved to be very effective and efficient.


The end result is that BC Cancer Research has and will benefit from a system based on the latest ASHRAE standard for open protocol building automation systems. The flexibility of the Delta building automation they chose combined with ESC’s system installation allowed them to realize substantial capital cost and operations savings.