Mohawk College building first in Canada to receive Zero Carbon Building certification for both design and performance

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation at Mohawk College in Hamilton has become the first building in Canada to receive Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) Standard certification in both the Design and Performance categories from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

In 2018, CaGBC awarded the 8,981 sq. m. structure its ZCB – Design certification, recognizing the building was designed according to zero carbon building requirements. The addition of this new performance certification verifies that The Joyce Centre has achieved zero carbon emissions in its first full year of operation, CaGBC says in a statement.

“We’re proud to have the first building in the country to receive the Canada Green Building Council’s dual certifications,” said Mohawk College president Ron McKerlie. “The performance certification provides valuable recognition that we are meeting the carbon-related goals intended in the initial design of The Joyce Centre. Our plans have become a reality, demonstrating that operating a zero-carbon building is an attainable goal as we continue to ensure Mohawk students are learning, living and leading in sustainability.”

CaGBC says the Joyce Centre was constructed “with an innovative high-performance building envelope that minimizes heating and cooling demand, an all-electric geo-exchange system and a rooftop photovoltaic system.”

“From October 2018 to October 2019, these systems performed with better-than-expected results, contributing to the Performance certification. This performance standard will be verified annually,” the CaGBC statement says.

“The Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation provides a unique zero carbon facility for students, faculty and staff,” said Tony Cupido, research chair, sustainability at Mohawk College, and the person who oversaw the building’s design and construction. “Leading by example, The Joyce Centre creates an atmosphere of exceptional interdisciplinary collaboration in teaching, research and well-being.”

CaGBC says The Joyce Centre is a hub of activity at Mohawk’s Fennell Campus and produces more energy than it consumes. All excess power from the solar panel array is used by other buildings on campus. The high-performance building envelope, consisting of triple-pane glazing and insulated pre-cast sandwich panels, maximizes heating, cooling and natural light. Heating and cooling are maintained with the use of 28 geothermal wells on the property.

“Mohawk College has been a pioneer for zero carbon building in Canada since joining CaGBC’s pilot program in 2017,” said Thomas Mueller, president and CEO of CaGBC and CEO of GBCI Canada.

“The Joyce Centre’s achievement of not just one, but two certifications cement its leadership in proving that performing to Zero Carbon is technically feasible, economically viable, and aligned with creating livable, healthy spaces for students.”

The Joyce Centre  builds on Mohawk College’s commitment to be a leader in environmental sustainability. It is the largest net zero institutional building in Canada, serving as a living lab for students, offering them hands-on access to the monitoring and operations of a ZCB-certified building.

The building generated  620,600 Kwh of renewable energy last year and consumed 537,000 Kwh in the same period (October 2018 – October 2019), producing 115.5% of the energy required for its operation.

It includes two lecture halls, two traditional classrooms, seven laboratories, a library and nine student collaboration rooms and hosts the offices for the Centre for Climate Change Management at Mohawk.

The building has  35/65 window-to-wall ratio to maximize energy absorption and natural light.  It uses no natural gas onsite – the all-electric set up allows for the easiest way for most buildings to reduce their carbon consumption.

“Proven technology was used in this building – everyday technology that is easily available,” CaGBC says. “It was a new design method for highly efficient building.”

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