Child Development Centre at the University of Calgary achieves LEED Platinum certification

The University of Calgary’s Child Development Centre (CDC) has achieved the highest level of certification for environmental sustainability. The 125,000-square-foot CDC has been certified as LEED Platinum by the Canada Green Building Council. It is the most highly rated and largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum building in Canada and the first in the world to be built in a cold climate.

The focus of the new facility, which officially opened on October 9, is to support the healthy development of children and their families. The CDC houses the University’s second child-care facility and a full continuum of researchers, clinicians and frontline workers.

“The Child Development Centre is a unique model for improving the quality of life for children and families. It is also setting the standard for sustainable design and construction across North America,” said U of C President Harvey Weingarten. “The CDC is the flagship of the university’s ongoing efforts to make all of our operations more environmentally sustainable.”

The building was designed by Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. Kasian principal Bill Chomik said the project is a benchmark in high-performance, sustainable facilities that is the result of architects, designers and engineers from diverse disciplines working together to achieve a common goal.

“Achieving Platinum is a huge success for our firm and we are proud to be a part of the movement towards sustainable standards in Alberta and Canada,” said Chomik. “We discovered a lot about the level of collaboration that is required for a project of this kind. Every design element incorporated into the facility had to be considered from a complexity of angles — functionality, efficiency, sustainability, budget, and aesthetics. It took significant input and a meeting-of-minds from the project manager, construction managers, sub-consultants, client, stakeholders, and user groups to determine the best outcome for the design.”

Researchers at the University, including students from the Faculty of Environmental Design and the Schulich School of Engineering, will conduct post-occupancy studies on the building’s performance.

“The CDC is the most heavily instrumented building in North America,” said Jim Love, Chair in Sustainable Building Technologies in the Faculty of Environmental Design who provided the energy engineering expertise on the project and who will pursue follow-up research on the building. “Nearly everything in this building can be directly monitored, from the boilers to the elevators. This creates an ideal environment for applied research and experiential learning.”

Environmental elements incorporated in the building include one of the largest photovoltaic arrays to be integrated into a building in Canada. It is capable of producing 65,000 kilowatt hours’ worth of electricity annually, enough to run six single-family homes for a year. Other features include high-performance boilers and water-efficient fixtures.

The building houses under-floor ventilation systems; motion-activated energy efficient lights; use of “grey water” in toilets; and low-flow taps. Zinc cladding was used on the building exterior to increase building durability and decrease the need for maintenance. Access flooring and moveable walls enable building flexibility so that tenants can change, but the walls will not have to be destroyed. Natural light is present throughout the building to reduce electrical costs.

As a result there will be an estimated energy cost reduction of over 70 percent and a reduction in water use of more than 55 percent per year, compared to a conventional building of the same size. Eighty three percent of construction waste for the project was diverted from landfills. Eleven percent of the building’s consumed energy will be from renewable sources. The building also houses a state-of-the-art mechanical fresh-air ventilation system.

“Achieving Platinum level is no small feat and this project is helping raise the bar for everyone,” said Thomas Mueller, president of the Canada Green Building Council, which facilitates LEED-Canada certifications for new construction and commercial interiors. “This achievement also demonstrates the University of Calgary’s leadership role in connecting the forward thinking on the ground with a building that is good for the environment, for its occupants and good for the bottom line.”

The building cost $37 million. Funding was provided from the Province of Alberta.