Building green earns silver for Robbins Health Learning Centre

March 14, 2012

It’s been almost seven years since the project was registered with the Canada Green Building Council, but the university’s Robbins Health Learning Centre (RHLC) finally received LEED® Silver Certification this January.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. This points-based system focuses on five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Building green facilities takes commitment and planning

“It’s a long process because you have to compile all the paperwork and documentation related to the project,” explains Dana Schmidt, former sustainability officer for the university. “You need to prove that you’ve done what you said you were going to do, and then the Council will audit some of those elements to ensure the project measures up.”

When the RHLC project was initiated in 2005, the project team ensured they had a LEED® sustainability plan in place, and worked with architects to ensure they were building up the documentation from the beginning. The sustainability plan was critical to every stage of the project, providing the checklist of elements the team would refer to in ensuring the construction of the building was on track to meeting LEED® Silver standards.

“We were very focused on building an efficient and environmentally sound project, and LEED® gave us a credential to shoot for,” explains Stuart MacLean, executive director of Facilities.

Highlights of environmentally friendly features

Some of the key features of the RHLC include water conservation strategies, which reduce water consumption by more than 60 per cent – 6 million litres – per year. A large cistern in the parkade collects rainwater from the entire west side of City Centre Campus, eliminating the discharge of that stormwater into the sewer system. The water is cleaned and used to supply all of the irrigation for campus landscaping – and more than half the water used by toilets on campus.

Other features reduce energy consumption, which makes the RHLC approximately 35 per cent more efficient than a standard building of the same size. This means a savings of approximately 9.7 million MegaJoules per year and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 400 tonnes annually.

“When we committed to LEED® Silver, the provincial regulation from Alberta Infrastructure at the time was to build energy efficient buildings,” says Stuart. “Alberta Infrastructure has since made it mandatory that buildings are constructed to LEED® Silver standards. MacEwan University preceded that specific determination.”

The RHLC — which opened August 29, 2007 —accommodates approximately 2,000 learners, and houses state-of-the-art nursing simulation labs and a 200-seat lecture theatre. The facility is home to many programs within the Faculty of Health and Community Studies, including the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter