This University Is Creating A Sustainable Building With Net-Zero Ambitions

York University will hold the School of Continuing Studies in a new sustainable building with a focus on net-zero energy and emissions.


May 25 2019, Updated 3:38 p.m. ET

Using the same techniques as a passive house, a new university building in Toronto, Canada will be one of the most sustainable in the world. York University awarded architecture firm Perkins+Will with their design that will meet LEED certification. The building aims to have a warming appeal and will generate as much energy as it uses.

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The new building, which will host the School of Continuing Studies, will be located at the Keele campus. Perkins+Will was selected after the university fielded many designs and won the competition stage featuring three finalists. Other finalists were HOK and Gow Hastings Architects.

In an effort to achieve at least an LEED Gold certification, the building will represent a similar approach to a passive house. Heating and cooling will be at its most efficient with air-tight sealing, strong insulation, and heat recovery ventilation. The latter means heat is retained more during winter months and vice-versa during the warmer months.

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To have net-zero energy, the building will also have integrated solar photovoltaic panels to generate power on-site. They’ll look to minimize energy needed from the power grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The potential for a timber structure is being looked at to improve heating and to help with carbon capture.

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“This new building will enable us to create even more lifelong learning opportunities, build connections with local and international communities, and help students of all ages and backgrounds to achieve their fullest potential,” Rhonda Lenton, university president, said in a news release.

Another unique aspect of the building is the warming appeal of a traditional household. Massive windows will provide transparency and adequate sunlight that will also help reduce energy use. They’ll be connecting spaces together to push the interaction of students and to provide enough room for big events.

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The School of Continuing Studies improves post-secondary education at York University and has now been established for the last three years. An early design shows that the building will contain 39 classrooms, various student lounges and workspaces, and it’ll have offices for all 150 staff and instructors.

Over $50 million will be spent on the development of the new building, which will be one of the biggest of its kind in Canada according to the architecture firm. The project is expected to break ground sometime next year and should be ready for students and faculty by 2021.

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