Canadian Consulting Engineer

New Learning

Construction in the post-secondary education sector is enjoying a boom, and a large proportion of the billions of dollars being spent is on new laboratories and teaching spaces for engineering and science faculties. On the following pages are five...

August 1, 2004   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Construction in the post-secondary education sector is enjoying a boom, and a large proportion of the billions of dollars being spent is on new laboratories and teaching spaces for engineering and science faculties. On the following pages are five of these projects. They represent a cross-section of types and approaches, but all are designed in an effort to save energy.

School of Information Technology and Engineering – S.I.TE.

University of Ottawa

Located on the corner of King Edward and Mann Streets, the School of Information Technology and Engineering, or “SITE,” serves as a gateway to Ottawa’s downtown. It opened in September 2002 to accommodate 2,450 undergraduate and graduate students, with large classroom and laboratory spaces opening onto a galleria. However, the striking building is apparently so popular that it is also used by other students as a social gathering place.

Along its south face is a high, glazed atrium that looks onto the Rideau canal and functions as a massive solar recycling system. Radiant steel panels above each balcony run the length of the building and are connected to a 500-kW capacity heat pump that provides chilled water cooling or heat, depending on the season and conditions.

The 300-mm precast floor slabs have four 228-mm diameter hollow cores that act as ducts for the HVAC system, transporting heated, cooled and return air from each room and open space. The concrete mass of the floor stores heat or cold energy, creating further savings. Because there are no ducts, the ceilings are left smooth and reach 3.35 metres high. The air-handling system also uses a variable, two-fan, double duct system and enthalpy controls.

The mechanical rooms are located at each end of the linear plan, with the idea that they will be easy to access and maintain. Large, stainless steel ducts are exposed on the building exterior.

The galleria’s curtain wall absorbs only two-thirds the solar heat gain of clear glass. It has triple glazing, filled with argon gas and coated with two insulating films. The building’s ultra-efficient lighting system also cuts down on heat gain, with low voltage multi-point controls. The design projected it would use 51% less energy than the Model National Energy Code, only 14 kW of energy per square foot a year.

The building’s exposed structure includes three concrete longitudinal main bearing walls forming continuous 100-metre colonnades. These support the thick prestressed hollow-core slabs, 305 mm thick, spanning 12 metres from wall to wall. There is a mixed bracing and seismic resistance system with shear walls at the centre of the building and crossed hollow tube sections at the ends. Supporting the glazed curtain wall facade are thin vertical trusses, and on the outside is a pyramidal colonnade. The grand entrance rotunda has a crown of steel beams laid out radially and resting on formed concrete capitals.

Students can plug in their computers throughout the building, including along the galleria walkways which have continuous desks wired for power and communications in place of a handrail. In this way, the designers have transformed this circulation space into a 330-seat electronic study area.

Architect: IKOY Architects (R.D. Keenberg). Structural: Sauv Boucher Associs/Gnivar (Jacques G. Sauv, ing., P. Lamontagne, ing.). Mechanical & electrical: Stantec (D. Gaudet, M. Gaudet, M. Rivard)/ECE Group (G. Heissler P.Eng., V. Chu P.Eng., R. Datcu P.Eng.). Building envelope: Morrison Hershfield (D. Scott).

Applied Computing and Engineering Sciences wing

Fleming College, Sutherland Campus, Peterborough

One of the most striking features of the new computer and engineering wing at Fleming College (formerly Sir Sandford Fleming College) on Brealey Drive in Peterborough, Ontario is the tall ventilation chimney that stands 20 metres high next to the entrance. The chimney is one of three in the 4,675-m2 wing, which opened last year at a cost of $9.7 million.

Using an age-old simple technology to help ventilate the buildings, the three chimneys stand at the two ends of a long, two-storey galleria and at the end of a transverse corridor (the building is L-shaped). The circulation spaces thus act as the primary air chambers. The chimneys have a channel for exhaust air, and one for supply air, with scoops and reliefs oriented to windward and leeward. Sensors on the roof detect for wind direction, wind speed, snow and rain. They signal to the building automation system to adjust the chimney dampers as appropriate. The galleria also has motorized clerestorey windows that are automatically triggered to further ventilate the space.

Designing a natural ventilation system depends on a careful arrangement of spaces and openings. Mistakes can result either in untenable drafts or stagnant air. The designers in this case used computer fluid dynamic modelling tools to adjust the design. Thanks to the use of natural ventilation, the conventional HVAC system was downsized by 25%.

Besides meeting rooms and laboratories for computer hardware and software engineering, telecommunications, robotics and automation, the building has a 150-seat auditorium with dual projection, surround sound and touch screen control. There is a 90-seat computing “commons.” An unusual timber and steel “forest” structure supports the galleria. The structure, mechanical and electrical systems are exposed to view so that the students can learn from the building they occupy.

Architect: Line Architects (Loghman Azar). Structural: Halsall Engineering (Gregory Andrews, P.Eng., Claudio Ruoso). Mechanical: Keen Engineeering (Mike Godawa; P.Eng., Julia Sacher). Electrical: Mulvey and Banani (Myron Washchyshyn, P.Eng.). Energy simulation: Enersys Engineering.

School of Environmental and Natural Resources Sciences

Fleming College, Frost Campus, Lindsay, Ontario

Another new technology building at Fleming College is at the Frost Campus in Lindsay, Ontario. Here a 3,900-m2 wing opened in January 2004 for a construction cost of $8.5 million.

Not surprisingly, given its purpose, the building is designed to showcase green technology, although some of the green components such as the large wind turbine are still waiting funding.

Below the building, a geothermal field of 65 wells, 70 metres deep has been installed and is operating.

A portion of the roof is designed to carry the load of a vegetative roof and to serve as a research laboratory for different media and ecosystems. Other sloping areas of the roof are fitted ready for photovoltaic and solar water heating panels.

Between the new wing and an existing building is a courtyard that will soon hold a large tank for studying natural wastewater treatment. The school hopes to obtain wastewater from a nearby fish farm and also from industrial sources to study ways of treating it in this artificial wetland.

Architect: Robbie Sane (Arun Sane). Structural: Halsall Associates (Shahe Sagharian, P.Eng., Steve Holyk). Mechanical & electrical: Jain & Associates (Dinesh Jain, P.Eng.). Energy modelling: Caneta Research (Doug Cane, P.Eng.).

Richard J. Renaud Science Complex

Concordia University, Loyola Campus, Montreal

The two wings of the Richard J. Renaud Science Complex form an elegant L-shape around a quadrangle at the century-old Loyola campus of Concordia University in west Montreal.

Opened last September, the 33,000-m2 building is one of the largest university science complexes in North America, serving graduates and undergraduates in fields such as chemistry, biology, physics and psychology.

Almost 70% of the building area consists of laboratories, requiring a total of 300 fume hoods. Laboratories also require 100% exhaust and fresh air make-up, which means that economizing on energy use is a challenge. The designers used a number of strategies. For example, controls linked to the building automation system allow for air changes in three modes: occupied (12 air changes per hour); unoccupied (6 changes per hour); and night (2 air changes per hour). Occupancy sensors can tell if someone
is in the laboratory working at dead of night, for example, and will make sure that the system is pumping in enough air. Sensors also ensure that an alarm sounds if a hood sash remains open unnecessarily.

The laboratories have been designed as modular units of 3.2 x 9.0 metres — a measure that aligns with the building’s structural grid. Between the laboratories runs a service corridor that is the distribution spine for the exhaust air and carries the plumbing services (gases, distilled water, etc.), as well as electrical and communication raceways. Service corridors are an unusual luxury in university laboratories, says architect Martin Troy. They give convenient access for service maintenance and they mean that the scientists can move around without accessing a public corridor.

The building has a mechanical plant on the penthouse at the end of each wing. The system uses variable air volume equipment, with four 80,000-cfm modules in the north wing, and two 80,000-cfm modules in the south wing. There are also extensive heat recovery provisions: on the exhaust air manifolds, on the chillers, boilers, electrical rooms and even in the nuclear magnetic resonator rooms.

With other energy savings such as efficient lighting, daylighting and sunshades, the building saves 25% on a conventional design for a building of this type. The architectural palette complements both the neo-gothic and modern buildings existing on the Loyola campus. The lower level is fully glazed with a steel structural grid overlay, and above are vertical brick panels.

Architect: Marosi Troy/Jodoin Lamarre Pratte/Cardinal Hardy. Structural: Saia Deslauriers Kadanoff Leconte Brisebois Blais (Helene Brisebois, ing). Mechanical & electrical: Pageau Morel et associes (Roland Charneux, ing.)/Pellemon (Ren Boudreau, ing.)

National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT)

University of Alberta, Edmonton

One of the engineering buildings under way at the University of Alberta, is the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT), a 21,000-m2 complex located north of the Mechanical Engineering building.

While the upper two floors of the NINT building will house graduate students from the mechanical engineering faculty, the four lower floors will house 120 staff from the National Research Council and 45 guest researchers. Their work is devoted to Nanotechnology — the development of new materials and processes by manipulating their molecular and atomic particles. (A nanometre is 10 times the diameter of a hydrogen atom, 1/80,000 the diameter of a human hair).

The laboratories are going to be the quietest in Canada, built to house extremely sensitive equipment that has to be shielded from vibration, sound and electro-magnetic interference. The building budget is $40 million, but the equipment is to cost far more: $120 million.

The most sensitive research tools in the facility are the electron and atomic microscopes, and the surface science analysis tools. This equipment is located in the “characterization suite,” which is a separate single-storey structure in the northwest corner of the site. The location is as far as possible from traffic and was chosen after measuring for vibrations and EMI characteristics. Cohos Evamy, architect and structural engineer, is designing the suite on isolation slabs that are 900 mm thick and supported on four 400 mm x 7500 mm long piles.There is a 150-mm void between the slabs’ underside and the soil, and a 50-mm isolation joint separates them from the adjacent slab-on-grade floors.

The laboratories have to be located at least 30 metres from elevators. Switchgear, feeder risers (bus ducts are not permitted) and generators are oriented to minimize the impact of any electromagnetic fields (0.05 mg criteria). The electrical distribution panel boards are located back-to-back so that they cancel each other’s electro-magnetic fields. Power is distributed in rigid galvanized steel conduit with twisted wiring.

Air movement, moisture and temperature within the laboratories have to be precisely controlled. The design uses a radiant cooling system with stainless steel panels imported from Switzerland. To maintain the constant temperature at 0.01C/hour, each room has its own industrial grade thermostat, sensors and pumps. For ventilation and pressure, the laboratories are supplied with four air changes an hour (compared with a conventional 50 air changes an hour). The supply air is processed through a special desiccant system (like an enthalpy wheel) that dries and then rehumidifies the air using demineralized water. On the lower levels are Class 1000 clean room laboratories, where the air is exhausted through 130 fume hoods.

Architect & structural: Cohos Evamy (Donna Clare, John Crate, Doug McConnell, Jim Montgomery, P.Eng., Jeff DiBattista, P.Eng.). Mechanical: Hemisphere Engineering (Robert Campbell, P.Eng., Patrick Fleming, P.Eng.). Electrical: Stantec: (Glenn Stowkowy, P.Eng., Rolf Matsson, P.Eng.)

continued on page 31

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