Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.2

September 23, 2004


Our building's a winner

By Frank Kuin

Our buildingÕs a winner

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Concordia’s sparkling new Richard J. Renaud Science Complex has been drawing rave reviews lately from various corners for its academic, structural and environmental qualities.

The science building at Loyola, which has been operational for one year this month, will celebrate its birthday with an award from Natural Resources Canada for its energy efficiency.

Under the federal department’s Commercial Building Incentive Program (CBIP), a subsidy program aimed at stimulating energy-efficient building design, the

science complex has been recognized as a winner for helping to keep energy costs down and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“To qualify for the incentive, a building must be at least 25 per cent more energy-efficient than if it were constructed to meet the requirements of the Model National Energy Code for Buildings,” explained Yves Gilbert, Director of Customer Service and Operation Development in Facilities Management.

The MNECB is a building code that takes into account variations in regional climate conditions and energy costs.

In addition, a trade publication in engineering wrote a glowing review this summer of the Science Complex’s state-of-the art ventilation system, which preserves good air quality in a complex full of labs and potentially hazardous fumes.

Construction Canada noted that despite different air quality requirements for labs and offices, the building has an integrated ventilation system that “provides occupants with more fresh air than is required by recognized standards.”

At the same time, this so-called variable air volume (VAV) ventilation system is an energy saver because it is more efficient than two separate systems, one for offices and one for labs, would have been.

Last but not least, the Science Complex has so far proved to be a hit from an academic perspective, said Bob Roy, Vice-Dean for Planning. Having toiled for years in the outmoded Henry F. Hall Building, the sciences now have a “world-class” facility at their disposal, he said.

“The building has good facilities that allow people to do things they couldn’t do before, or do them a lot better,” said Roy, a biologist by trade.

But more than that, the complex offers a “greatly enhanced learning environment,” he said. It is a place where people want to stay around.

Unlike in the Hall Building, there is never a sense of crowding in the new, 33,000 square-meter complex. Graduate students all have office spaces outside of the labs, putting an end to student meetings at lab benches.

“It’s so much safer, so much more efficient to have people in labs doing experiments and people who are doing paperwork out of the labs,” said Roy.

“It’s much more orderly, much more professional. Students are being exposed more to the way it should be and the way they’ll likely encounter in industry or out in other institutions in the future.”

One element of the construction project at Loyola is still ongoing: the old Drummond Science Building is being converted into the new facilities for Communication Studies and Journalism. Once that project is finished, the quadrangle courtyard at the heart of the campus will be completed.

Roy, who oversaw the planning process for the Science Complex, looks back on the multi-year exercise with satisfaction. From his office in the historic Administration Building, he looks out onto the new quadrangle. A hardhat labeled ‘Roy’ sits on top of a bookcase.

“We had a great sense of adventure, of something that was going to have an impact,” he said of the co-operative effort in the construction project.

“I have to admit that at the early stages, I never dreamed it would actually happen. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself and look out the window and say: it’s actually out there!”