Canadian Consulting Engineer

Ontario University

August 1, 2004
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Believing Canada's economic future depends on nurturing students with technology skills, the federal and provincial governments began plowing infrastructure funding into campus buildings for engineers and scientists a few years ago. One of the lar...

Believing Canada’s economic future depends on nurturing students with technology skills, the federal and provincial governments began plowing infrastructure funding into campus buildings for engineers and scientists a few years ago. One of the largest building programs is starting to take shape in Oshawa, an automobile manufacturing town 50 kilometres east of Toronto along the shores of Lake Ontario. The $190-million University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) welcomed its first 800 students last fall and plans to have around 6,500 eventually. It is the first new university in Ontario in 40 years.

The university is intended to produce professionals for industry and specific fields of practice rather than serving individuals pursuing academic careers. It offers undergraduate students “career-degree programs,” and roles in “practical leadership,” and eventually hopes to introduce post-graduate courses. The engineering and applied science fields of study include manufacturing engineering, mechatronics (a combination of electronics and mechanical engineering), nuclear power and energy systems, and information technology. There are also faculties in general science, social science and health science.

The university shares a campus with Durham College, integrating its new buildings with existing ones on a treed 47-hectare site. By this September, three academic buildings, a 6,800-m2 library and some residences, will be open, as well as an athletics centre. Upon completion, scheduled in 2006, there will be eight or nine new buildings, totalling 80,000 square metres of program space. They include classrooms, laboratories, auditoriums and offices.

The campus master plan and the buildings except for the residences are designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects of Toronto, a firm that also recently completed another engineering building, the Bahen Centre at the University of Toronto.

AT UOIT the designers have assembled a series of three and four-storey brick and masonry structures, ranged around a large quadrangle and with covered linked walkways to protect pedestrians from the elements.

A building for engineering faculties has special demands. Many of the laboratories and teaching spaces are conventional in structure, but require ultra-fast and easily accessible communications networks, while other laboratories in engineering buildings are “quasi-industrial” spaces that require robust structures to support equipment and that need acoustic protection.

Campus buildings today are also showcases for green building technologies. UOIT is applying for LEED certification on many counts. The buildings’ concrete structures are exposed, for example, which minimizes the need for finishes (there are no materials that emit volatile organic carbons). The concrete also acts as a thermal heat sink — staying cool on hot days, and vice versa. All the buildings are predominantly daylit by central atria and by placing the spaces that are regularly occupied near the perimeter. Windows are operable and have solar shades, while R8, sealed window units use a heat mirror inner film that excludes solar energy without affecting the transmission of daylight. The exterior walls and roofs have R20 and R30 insulation respectively. About 70% of the building roof area is vegetated. Vegetative roofs prevent the formation of “heat islands” and help to consume rainwater. They are also said to improve the quality of air entering the mechanical system by providing a relatively cool and clean surface for the air to pass over before reaching the intake.

Concern about the impact of the development on an adjacent watershed led to various strategies to contain stormwater run-off, including a constructed wetland and a retention pond. Between the paved areas are landscaped basins and swales to channel and slow down stormwater run-off.

The most dramatic green feature at UOIT is the geo-thermal field to reduce energy use. Located beneath the main quadrangle, which measures 100 m x 40 metres, the borehole field is one of the largest in North America. Marc A. Rosen, P.Eng., the dean of manufacturing engineering at UOIT (and president of the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers), happens to be an expert in, and author of a book on, geothermal energy. He says he is looking forward to monitoring the geothermal field’s performance with the students. It will be a “giant laboratory” that they can enjoy and learn from on site.


By Mike Godawa, P.Eng., Keen Engineering

UOIT’s eight new four-storey buildings use a combination of low-tech and high-tech solutions to exceed the ASHRAE 90.1 standard for energy efficiency by 30%.

This high efficiency is achieved through design measures that build upon one another. The general mechanical concept consists of using central air handling units with outside air and return air mixing in the plenum. The buildings use displacement ventilation. Fresh air is supplied from the raised floor through swirl-type floor diffusers. Underfloor air delivery promotes stratification, which reduces the cooling loads while enhancing natural ventilation through buoyancy effects.

Air handlers up-feed a series of medium velocity duct risers on either side of the atria at the centre of each building. Medium velocity duct risers connect to variable air volume (VAV) terminal boxes, complete with reheat coils. The office buildings use VAV terminals to feed zoning options partitioned within the raised floor pressurised cavity. Laboratory buildings also use VAV terminals but are designed with overhead air distribution (instead of underfloor air delivery) to minimize the risk of contamination associated with potential spillage into the raised floor cavity.

Classroom buildings are equipped with an energy recovery wheel located just below rooftop to preheat the outside air with heat recovered off the exhaust air. In the case of laboratory buildings where air contamination is a major concern, a run-around loop system is used to reclaim the waste heat.

Operable windows allow for some natural ventilation and personal control of the indoor conditions. Perhaps the most interesting design feature is the large geothermal field, which provides heating and cooling for the new buildings. The geothermal system is estimated to save 16.5% in cooling energy and 40.4% in heating energy consumption. Chilled water is supplied from a multi-stack chiller with seven-90 ton modules and two sets of heat pumps with seven-50 ton modules. (A second chiller system will be added as the campus expands.) The 90-ton modules are centrifugal units with magnetic bearings that allow for excellent part-loading performance. The condensing water goes to a large borehole field, having 370 holes, around 200 metres deep. Water circulates in polyethylene tubing through the interconnected, underground network. The field retains the condensing heat for use in the winter (when the heat pumps reverse) and provides low temperature hot water for the campus. All but a few services use this low temperature (52C supply) hydronic heat.

Four Viessman-Vertomat condensing boilers provide trim heat for the low temperature system, heat for the small medium temperature (82C supply) system (used for vestibules, radiant panels etc.), and backup heat for the campus. Two more boilers will be added when the college expands. The boilers provide excellent efficiency with the relatively low return temperatures of the ground-source system. Services are distributed through the campus via tunnels that surround the geothermal field. Each building is hydronically isolated with a heat exchanger, and has an internal distribution system.

Important components in reducing the buildings’ heating and cooling loads are the highly energy efficient envelope, the exposed concrete structure that provides thermal massing and the sod roofs.

Stormwater retained on the sod roofs will be collected in the underground stormwater storage cistern in order to reduce the peak load on the storm system. The harvested stormwater is then used for irrigation purposes. Each building has al
so been designed with a second “grey water” plumbing system (independent from the potable water system) to provide the flexibility of using stored stormwater for conveying sewage.

The existing Durham College campus control system network is being extended to service the new building and systems, providing a larger but single control and monitoring system for the operators. The BACNet protocol is being used to integrate the equipment components with the building operating systems.


By Corrie Burt, Carinci Burt Rogers Engineering

One of the prime challenges for the electrical consultants was configuring the entire campus as Ontario’s first “laptop university”: the students are each loaned a personal computer upon arrival. The buildings have been fitted with a wireless network with access points distributed throughout all the common and flexible-use areas. There is also a wired network to every fixed seat in classrooms, lecture auditoriums, laboratories and offices.

To accommodate the required networking, a central computer room in the existing Durham College was expanded and upgraded. Fibre-optic cable was run through the service tunnel and duct bank systems, an infrastructure that threads below the new roads and in an underground loop around the quadrangle, linking into the flanking buildings. The fibre optic network carries the fire alarm, power quality metering, security, and the building automation systems.

Existing overhead 13.8 kV and 44kV hydro lines that criss-cross the campus are being eliminated or re-routed off site. In order to accommodate projected growth, a new 44/13.8 kV substation with capacity of 20 MW was constructed and located to be ready to serve the campus as it eventually expands on 300 acres to the north. The substation has two transformers for redundancy and to serve any potential future co-generation needs. (A third transformer will be added in the future.)

Modular synchronized emergency generators have been installed adjacent to the sub-station. Each unit is 400 kW, and additional units can be added to increase capacity as demand grows. Individual generators can be taken out of service for maintenance without affecting the remaining emergency generation plant.

The colonnade around the quadrangle is lit by both direct and indirect luminaires. The indirect luminaires enhance the wood details and provide a soft ambient illumination, while the low level step lights mounted in the columns light the walkway.

The overall lighting scheme provides a soft and inviting atmosphere for the staff and students and unobtrusively complements the architecture. Interior lighting includes semi-indirect, glare-free high-efficient fluorescent luminaires providing comfortable lighting to fulfil the student “laptop-use-anywhere” requirement. Lighting control is by switch, motion detection and by the central building automation system in order to achieve maximum energy conservation. Special luminaires that were custom designed for the common corridors provide a dual function: both wall wash and indirect ambient illumination.

The exterior parking, roadway and pedestrian luminaires were developed together with landscape architects DuToit Allsopp Hillier. With their stylized design and the provision of mountings for hanging banners, the lights unify the campus, provide safety and at the same time prevent light pollution. Metal halide lamps with a high colour rendering index were used to replace the high pressure sodium floodlights and to enhance colour identity at night.

Parts of three buildings have raised access flooring, which permits a flexible distribution of electrical and communications outlets, and makes it easier to partition and reconfigure rooms as this newest of universities evolves.

Owner: University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Prime consultant: Diamond and Schmitt Architects (Donald Schmitt)

Structural: Yolles Partnership (Eric Gordon, P.Eng., Brent Lodge, P.Eng.)

Mechanical/electrical: Keen Engineering (Mark Mitchell, P.Eng., Mike Godawa, P.Eng., P. Corrie Mooney, P.Eng.)

Electrical & lighting: Carinci Burt Rogers Engineering (Corrie Burt, Jackie Parissi)

Civil: Totten Sims Hubicki Associates (John Campbell, P.Eng.)

Geotechnical: VA Woods

Hydrogeology: W.B. Beatty & Assoc.

Fire: Leber Rubes

Acoustics: Aercoustics Engineering

Wind: RWDI

Landscape: DuToit Allsopp Hillier

Traffic: BA Consulting Group

Cost: Vermeulen Cost Consultants

Contractor: Ellis Don


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories