The York Research Tower, which recently celebrated its research role (see Headline News), is also a model of sustainability.
The tower is the only building on campus to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification. The internationally recognized green building certification system provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources.
“LEED standards were factored into the tower’s design from day one and provided solid guidelines in best practices,” says Bud Purves (left), president of the York University Development Corporation. “After passing the six-month certification process, we’re pleased to have earned the silver designation and hope the learning from this project will be applied to other York buildings in the future.”
The tower’s sustainable features begin outside. The white roof and treated paving stones surrounding the building reflect heat instead of absorbing it, reducing cooling costs and the heat island effect. Its plant beds are also more self-sustaining: no potable drinking water is used for irrigation, 50 per cent of the plants were chosen because they require less water; and the beds themselves are deeper, allowing the plants to draw more water through their roots. Exterior light fixtures that reflect down instead of up or to the side also reduce the building’s light pollution.
Inside, electronic shutoffs on water fixtures and low-flush toilets reduce the tower’s water use by 30 per cent while a high-performance water boiler, leak-free structures and sun-friendly design have optimized its energy use. All equipment installations were supervised to ensure they would perform to their design specs and the building’s thermal output is monitored for compliance to LEED standards. Air quality management ensured construction dust didn’t get stuck to walls or end up under carpets while low chemical-emitting adhesives, such as paint, glue, carpet and laminates, were used to reduce the presence of phenols.
|Above: The York Research Tower|
During construction, 15 per cent of all new materials were made from recycled content; 20 per cent of extracted materials, such as gravel and stone, were sourced locally to reduce the building’s carbon footprint; and 75 per cent of extra materials were diverted from landfills.
Building occupants manage their own recycling and trash disposal, and "green" cleaning products have been introduced (see YFile, Aug. 13, 2009). In the future, educational information will also be provided to explain and educate the public about the building’s features.
“The certification reflects York’s strong commitment to the environment and to sustainability,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “I would like to acknowledge those who made this achievement possible, particularly Bud Purves and his team in the York University Development Corporation, with support from Vice-President Shapson and staff from the Research & Innovation Office and Vice-President Gary Brewer and staff from the Finance & Administration Office. I can’t say enough to thank you for your efforts.”
Submitted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer