UTM taking the LEED

Deerfield Hall and the Innovation Complex, which were opened this semester, are going to be certified LEED silver as “green buildings”, following the Instructional Centre, Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, and the Davis Building’s Renovation Phase I.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building rating system run by Canada Green Building Council, identifying buildings that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. There are four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. All of the green buildings at UTM are either silver or gold.

If you’ve taken ENV100 with Professor Barbara Murck sometime since 2011, you would have probably learned that the Instructional Centre features a geothermal system that uses pipes buried in the earth to regulate heating and cooling and save energy and water. IB also features a green rooftop—which helps reduce the “urban heat island” effect—and a 21-kW solar panel array.

Meanwhile, the library was the first LEED certified building on any of U of T’s three campuses. “It was a big accomplishment when we got that certification,” said Chelsea Dalton, UTM’s sustainability coordinator.

The Health Science Complex is going to be certified LEED silver minimum. Rainwater from the building is directed to a large underground cistern. The collected water is used for flushing toilets and thereby reducing the need to use the city water.

Now, Deerfield Hall and Innovation Complex also comply with the LEED system.

Deerfield Hall being built on the site of half of the old North Building meant that no green space was lost to construction. The drought-tolerant landscaping around it also reduces the need for irrigation. Above all, it improves the well-being of people who work in the building with a larger view of natural area and greater exposure to natural light. “The quality of our built environment matched by the unparalleled natural beauty of campus will inspire and play a huge role in our students’ success,” said UTM’s principal Deep Saini at the building’s opening ceremony.

The Innovation Complex’s environmental features include minimal use of land, energy-efficient light bulbs, and vertical fins on the exterior, which provide passive shading that reduces cooling needs.

Both new buildings have low-flow plumbing fixtures, low-emitting building materials, and underground parking.

Not only are green buildings economical and environmentally friendly, studies show that people who work in these kinds of buildings—which tend to have more natural light—tend to be happier, more productive, and less stressed. Green buildings prevent campus development from interfering with environment preservation.

Although there is no official UTM policy requiring campus development to be certified by LEED, it’s a growing trend that many campuses are attempting to follow, with 500 registered green buildings in Canada to date.

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