Canadian Consulting Engineer

University of Lethbridge’s Science Commons uses passive energy design

November 21, 2019

University of Lethbridge Science Commons

Images by Stantec.

Stantec and KPMB Architects recently completed the Science Commons, a new academic building for Alberta’s University of Lethbridge, which uses light harvesting systems and passive energy design to achieve a projected energy use reduction of 53%.

The $280-million, 413,000-sf Science Commons features purpose-built, open, modular laboratories to foster transdisciplinary interaction between the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, biology, neuroscience, psychology, physics and astronomy. Its climate-responsive design includes: an automated Venetian shade system to capture and block solar heat gain; a double façade and glazing with ‘scoops’ to draw natural light in; a winter garden that provides year-round passive heating and cooling by injecting outdoor air into a mechanical system that supplements and offsets the labs’ air requirements; and large central fan arrays that maintain exhausts at constant negative pressure to modulate the labs’ requirements while reducing energy consumption and the need for extensive ductwork.

Built into a rolling hillside, the building has primary entrances on three of its four floors. Custom Levolux aluminum fins form sunshade canopies that stretch along the east and west faces, helping to diffuse intense sunlight and drive it deeper into the core of the building.

The building was completed by the following teams and specialized consultants:

  • Architect: KPMB Architects/Stantec Architecture, Architects in Association.
  • Structural: Entuitive.
  • Mechanical: SNC-Lavalin.
  • Electrical: SMP Engineering.
  • Landscape: PFS Studio.
  • Interiors: KPMB Architects/Stantec Architecture, Architects in Association.
  • Civil: Stantec Consulting.
  • Contractor: PCL.
  • Energy/Climate: Transsolar.
  • Wind/Microclimate/Acoustics: RWDI.
  • Greenhouse: GHE/JGS.
  • LEED: Stantec Consulting.
  • Vibration: NOVUS Environmental.
  • AV/IT: The Sextant Group.
  • Vertical Transportation: Soberman Engineering.
  • Quantity Surveyor: Altus Group.
  • Vivarium Consultant: The ElmCos Group.
  • Geotechnical: Tetra Tech EBA.



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