Graduate residence makes the sustainability grade

(Edmonton) Environmentally conscious graduate students who want to live on campus at the University of Alberta have a place they can be proud to call home.

The U of A’s Graduate Residence in East Campus Village was awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver designation by the Canada Green Building Council. LEED is used to benchmark and recognize the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The drive for sustainable design came from within the project team. Representatives from the Graduate Students’ Association, Ancillary Services, and Planning and Project Delivery, working with the design and construction team of Hodgson Schilf Architects and Chandos, made sustainability a high priority in the planning and delivery of the project from conception to completion.

Completed in the fall of 2010, the Graduate Residence is the first residence to open on the U of A’s North Campus since International House in 2004. A lot has changed since 2004, including the university’s commitment to sustainability and reducing its environmental footprint.

“It was important for us to build sustainable residences because it reflects the values of society,” said Doug Dawson, executive director of ancillary services. “The university and our students expect it. Students in North America often make choices about the school they will attend based on the value the institution places on things like the environment.”

The LEED Silver certification was awarded to the project, comprising four new buildings along 87 Avenue and 110 Street, for meeting or exceeding performance in five key areas of human and environmental health—sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The building site itself was a sustainable choice because it uses existing services such as utilities, access to transit and parking facilities. Other green features include erosion control, on-site bicycle storage, water-efficient landscaping with no irrigation, and access to regional building materials.

In addition to the sustainable features, the project also needed to fall in line with design guidelines for infill development that the university developed with the adjacent community in 2007. It needed to maintain the scale and general character of the surrounding neighbourhood and respect the architecture of existing buildings, the concept of community and the natural beauty of the area.

“The designers were able to respect the craftsman style of the homes in the adjacent community, and incorporate state-of-the-art technology and design elements to dramatically reduce the environmental footprint,” explained Dawson.

The high-density housing features dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets, low-energy elevators, energy-efficient lighting, a green housekeeping program, a green education program, centrally located recycling and refuse collection areas, and energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment.

Dawson is happy Residence Services staff members have also rallied behind the operation of the sustainably built residences.

“It's exciting for our staff to be engaged in doing something new,” he said. “We are an institution of higher learning, and we need to lead in these areas and set the benchmark higher each time.”

Residence Services is in the process of building two more sustainable residences in East Campus Village. This new project is targeting a rating of four Green Globes, which is equivalent to the LEED Silver rating.

Striving for sustainability

The U of A strives to be a leader in sustainability and aims to model sustainable practices whenever possible. The university is seeking certification for environmental design on a number of ongoing and recently completed building projects on campus:

Related links

Energy Management and Sustainable Operations

LEED: Canada Green Building Council