University acts as green beacon

A Canadian campus has been built to showcase environmental technologies and energy efficiency measures in practice.

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is the province’s newest higher education facility and is committed to being environmentally friendly.

To this end, a ground source heat pump of gargantuan scale was installed during the construction of the campus and this is used to heat and cool the academic buildings.

Green roofs also crown most of the buildings, offering not only high levels of insulation but also helping to reduce the heat island effect, improving drainage and providing fresh, oxygenated air for the climate control systems.

The ‘geothermal well’, the second largest of its kind in North America, essentially uses the bedrock beneath the university as a giant storage heater, gradually warming the rock during the sunny summer months then drawing that energy back out during the freezing winters.

Bruce Bunker, director of special projects at the university, outlined how almost four hundred pipes had been fitted into holes drilled over 200m into the ground to carry the anti-freeze solution used in the system.

In the bowels of the university, heat exchangers are used to transfer energy to or from the university’s climate control system, depending on the needs of the season.

In keeping with the green energy theme, a combined heat and power boiler is installed to provide back-up power when needed, with the excess sold into the grid.

Remarkably, the system has so far raised the temperature of the great slab of rock slightly, with the ultra-insulated university requiring more summer cooling then winter heating.

Mr Bunker said the design had been informed by sound business sense as well as a concern for the environment.

“[We] realised the value of investing now in equipment to reduce the operating cost later,” he said.

He was diplomatic about ranking the institute’s environmental performance against other Canadian campuses, saying that it doubtless had the edge but that was to be expected as it was the youngest site and therefore able to take advantage of the latest advances in construction techniques and technology.

Sam Bond

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