Recognition of the project in the Holcim Awards competition helped to secure funding. The building is now completed, will be LEED Platinum certified. A watershed study and ecological mapping identified potential synergies with building systems, and led to the inclusion of rain and grey water reuse, and consistent use of regional limestone to aid in improving the pH balance of site water, and leading to improved water quality and increased biodiversity, and a reduction in the use of potable water by 80%.
The project also combined a mandate to maximize energy efficiency and minimize operating costs. The geothermal heating system with ground source heat pumps, high performance thermal envelope, solar domestic water heating, permeable paving, green roofs with local blueberry cover, natural day lighting, efficient appliances and lighting with daylight sensors, locally sourced and non-toxic materials and wind farm will reduce energy use by 77%. The project aimed to design a building so energy efficient and with relatively low operating costs that the savings could be put back into the research efforts of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit.
Over the next 25 years, the predicted energy savings amount to more than USD 1 million. At Living with Lakes – where environmental restoration and research in sustainability are at the forefront – researchers will have access to laboratories, classrooms, offices for researches and technicians, environmental bays and a waterway restoration centre. The centre examines the long-term effectiveness of pollution reduction, and how the damaged lake ecosystem is able to dynamically heal itself over time.
Holcim Awards provide boost to project
The selection of the project by the Holcim Awards regional jury was a tremendous boost to the project’s implementation – both through the financial support of the prize money, but also through media and professional recognition of the value of the project. “The recognition that the Holcim Awards brought to this project was a major turning point in our fundraising effort to complete the construction”, says project leader and scientist at Laurentian University, John Gunn. “I truly believe we would not have succeeded without it, especially in this difficult financial time.”
Funding support from Vale Inco and the Knowledge Infrastructure Program
Vale Inco, a Canadian based global mining company and a leading producer of nickel committed an additional USD 4.2 million to the project in January 2008. Vale had initially committed USD 300,000 in June 2006 to studying the feasibility of the 2,800m2 structure meeting Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) standards, the strictest in the LEED classification series.
The Knowledge Infrastructure Program is an initiative of the governments of Canada and Ontario who are investing USD 1.4 billion in 49 projects at Ontario’s colleges and universities. In May 2009, the Knowledge Infrastructure Program confirmed additional funding which cleared the way for final approval by the Laurentian University Board of Governors. Construction began in June 2009.
The site was cleared, excavation for the foundations and drilling for the geothermal wells was completed by September 2009. By the end of December 2009, the concrete foundations, floor slab and elevator shaft were also completed. 40 geothermal wells for building heating and cooling systems were drilled and associated piping extended to the building. By the end of the year, engineered structural timber had been delivered and the erection of the wood framing had begun. The FSC-certified wood is from northern Ontario and Quebec – pine and spruce, native to the region, and further construction progressed on schedule.