While it may be made of steel and concrete, the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion – a.k.a the Green building – will in fact become a living and breathing entity that will present researchers with more data than they know what to do with.
Flats of living material, such as this one, will cover the roof of the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion.
Expected to be up and running this September, the Engineering building will house research on green technologies, processes and materials and, at the same time, the building itself will feature advanced environmentally sustainable construction technologies and methodologies.
But while hundreds of students and researchers will be hard at work, the building will also be used as an active teaching tool and will be monitored in its performance.
Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Denis O’Carroll says hundreds of probes and other monitoring tools will be in use throughout the building. Some have already been embedded with reinforcing bars in the building to monitor weight loads throughout the facility.
“We teach about infrastructure when it comes to the design of bridges or buildings, using equations, so this latest research we will do on the building itself presents us with an opportunity to show and apply the principles we teach in the classroom,” says O’Carroll. “We make assumptions all the time, but this will bring it to practice.”
One of the main areas of the building to be studied will be the green roof. A green roof is typically partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane.
For this building, the roof will be covered with a series of flats that include drought resistant sedum, a hardy garden plant preferred over grass for green roofs.
“It will be a very low-maintenance roof,” says Mike DeJager, Project Manager (Physical Plant), adding the plant is beneficial in reducing stormwater run-off as well as heating needs (by adding mass and thermal resistance) and cooling (by evaporative cooling) loads on a building.
The soil and plants on green roofs can also insulate a building for sound, with the soil helping to block lower frequencies and the plants blocking higher frequencies.
Everything from soil moisture and temperature to water flow will be monitored through a variety of probes throughout the roof. Also located on the roof will be a wind turbine and a number of solar panels to generate electricity.
The green building will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building on Western’s campus. Currently, there are 14 LEED certified buildings in Ontario.
DeJager says that with the number of probes in the building, it’s as if the building will be alive because of the large amount of data that will be generated.
“It’s like a patient and we’ll be able to check its heart rate, blood pressure and pulse,” he says, noting the public will also be able monitor the building.
A series of touch-screen kiosks will be located throughout the building so anyone can see in real time data related to water consumption, electricity and other environmental initiatives.
“We’re going to have too much data,” jokes O’Carroll. “But I guess that’s a good thing.”