Changing the face of Quebec highways, one pit stop at a time

The Quebec roadscape is changing. In July 2018, Quebec’s Ministry of Transport announced a multi-year campaign to modernize the province’s rest stops and service areas to provide greater comfort for travellers and more eco-friendly structures in four sites across the province. We spoke with BGLA Architecture about the challenges and triumphs of their first project under this campaign: a new sustainable Villeroy rest area.

Our thanks to BGLA architects Armelle La Chance, architecte, PA LEED BD+C and Pierre André Lévesque, architecte associé, for their help with this article.

A facility fit for the future

Prior to the redesign, the rest stop at Villeroy was in sad shape. The original building was little more than a wooden cabin, somewhere to relieve yourself but not to relax. The new design includes a tourist information centre, showers for long-haul truckers, and private breastfeeding rooms. A sunny dining room overlooks the nearby woods and offers a clear view of the parking lot so travellers can keep an eye on their vehicles. These features make the site a truly restful area fit for modern travel.

In addition to these human comforts, the new Villeroy rest area features a variety of eco-friendly building strategies such as bird friendly glazing and a cutting-edge water management system. The site design also included rapid-charging stations for electric vehicles, a noteworthy addition considering the relative scarcity of electric cars during the project’s planning phase. Four years later, BGLA’s foresight is paying off as more and more cars and trucks run on electric power. This kind of forward thinking is a big part of the sustainable Villeroy rest area, reimagined from a wooden cabin into a facility fit for the future.

Smart touches lead to Silver status

In addition to providing hospitable features, it was imperative that the Villeroy project be LEED® certified. BGLA surpassed that goal and achieved LEED® Silver status! This was especially impressive when we consider the project’s setting. Situated next to a busy highway, a location surrounded by asphalt and concrete, the project’s position gave it a handicap when it came to earning points under categories like Location and Transportation and Sustainable Sites. How did BGLA manage?

The team was able to obtain the points they needed by incorporating an impressive range of creative strategies. Their inclusion of rapid-charging stations for electric vehicles helped win a point under Location & Transportation, despite the site’s less-than-ideal highway setting. A custom water reclamation system helped the project earn 9 points for Water Efficiency. Meanwhile, the building’s bird friendly AviProtek® glass helped gain points in several categories, including Quality Views. The first-surface etched pattern gave just the right amount of coverage: enough to deter bird strikes, but not enough to interfere with travellers’ view of the outdoors.

Transparent manufacturing was another key element for this project. When it came to raw materials, BGLA favoured locally-sourced products with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).  An EPD establishes transparency and responsibility in construction by describing a product’s environmental impact throughout its life cycle. For this project, BGLA targeted option 1 of the EPD credit under Materials & Resources, which requires permanent installation of twenty raw materials from five different manufacturers. Though increasingly common, EPDs were relatively scarce when BGLA was sourcing materials for the Villeroy project in 2018. It took perseverance and plenty of research, but in the end BGLA was able to incorporate the necessary twenty products with EPD documentation, including AviProtek® glazing.

This kind of perseverance is a hallmark of high-scoring LEED® projects, especially smaller ones like the sustainable Villeroy rest area. Throughout the project, smart touches in the right places led toward LEED® Silver status.

Villeroy rest area bird safe glass

A new approach to being bird friendly

The Villeroy rest area presented some familiar challenges when it came to bird collisions. Situated just steps from a bird-filled forest, its expansive windows could have been a serious risk to the area’s birds. BGLA understood the danger, and they were motivated to make the building safe for birds. This wasn’t because of legislative requirements for bird safe building (Quebec has none), but because eco-friendly development was integral to the project and the firm’s identity. Bird safe glazing would support the project’s bid for LEED® accreditation, as well.

After careful research, the team selected AviProtek® pattern 213 with acid-etched stripes on surface 1. They knew that the first-surface markers would ensure maximum pattern visibility for birds, and that the etch would last for many years to come. Pattern 213 helped the project secure the Pilot 55 credit for bird deterrence by satisfying the CSA A460:19 bird friendly building design standard. This standard requires first-surface visual markers spaced at 2” x 2” or closer, an approach know as the 2×2 rule.

An innovative approach to Innovation credits!

LEED® Pilot Credit 55 for bird deterrence is typically evaluated through calculations using Threat Factors assigned to various elements in the building’s envelope. However, this credit was granted for the Villeroy rest area based on its compliance with the CSA A460:19 bird friendly building design standard, which takes a prescriptive approach by specifying 2″ x 2″ spacing of visual markers.

Notably, this was the first project to earn LEED® Pilot credit 55 for bird deterrence using the CSA A460:19 instead of Threat Factors.

CSA A460:19 is emerging as a keystone for bird friendly building in Canada. In the coming months and years, we expect to see more projects supporting their bids for bird friendly LEED® credits using this standard instead of Threat Factor calculations.

So much for the theory. What about results? Did the glass prevent bird strikes? Our contacts at BGLA reached out to the project’s manager at the Ministry of Transport to find out. In the three years since installation, there hasn’t been a single sign of a bird strike.

Villeroy Rest Area birds eye view

The modern face of travel in Quebec

BGLA Architecture takes ecological responsibility to heart, and it shows. Projects like the sustainable Villeroy rest area show an impressive range of green building strategies. These strategies aren’t always easy, but at Villeroy they paid off with LEED® Silver status. More importantly, they helped to shape the site as a comfortable and secure environment for travellers. With the Villeroy project and others like it, the roadscape of Quebec is becoming ever more sustainable, hospitable, and ready for the future.

About BGLA

BGLA is an architectural and urban design firm with over 45 years of experience. Known for sustainable and humane designs, much of their work is in institutional buildings, recreational/touristic locations, and heritage sites. This experience served them well when it came to designing the hospitable and stylish rest area at Villeroy.

Learn more about the firm at

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