July 16, 2018

How 8 infrastructure projects are making positive and lasting impacts at UCalgary

Completed Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Infrastructure Fund projects provide upgraded spaces to learn, explore and collaborate
The Archives and Special Collections work area in the expanded High Density Library is where staff arrange, describe and process archival materials.
The Archives and Special Collections work area in the expanded High Density Library is where staff a Dave Brown, Libraries and Cultural Resources

In September 2016, the Government of Canada announced funding for eight key University of Calgary infrastructure projects totalling $160 million as part of the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (PSI-SIF). With all projects now successfully completed, this funding has helped improve the scale or quality of facilities for research and innovation, and/or improved the environmental sustainability of research and innovation infrastructure.

UCalgary has used the infrastructure investments to upgrade university research and learning spaces that enable innovation while helping to grow Alberta’s economy and enhance sustainability across all campuses.    

“The renovations, renewals, upgrades and expansions are providing better environments for students and faculty to be successful,” says Boris Dragicevic, associate vice-president, facilities development. “By creating opportunities for creative teaching through infrastructure, students are able to develop their research skills and amplify their learning experience as they explore new ways of thinking.”

The funding also helps the university achieve its sustainability goals related to energy performance and emissions reduction, and demonstrates our ongoing leadership in high-performance green buildings. 

Thanks to the collaboration and hard work of the faculties and units, facilities team, project teams, contractors, government partners and all those who stepped up to the challenge, the projects were planned, designed and completed on time, within a very short timeframe.

Vet Med project supports research priorities and helps achieve sustainability goals

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Skills Building received PSI-SIF funding to add approximately 1,700 square metres to the existing LEED Gold-certified building. The additional space uses energy efficient features to prioritize exceptionally low energy consumption and has created extensive research, innovation and learning areas to support Vet Med’s critical clinical and professional skills programs and enhance diagnostic research and development.

“This expansion comes at a very important time as we are expanding our highly acclaimed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. We have purposefully created spaces for people to gather together to create more collaboration and better community engagement, and we now have the additional space we needed,” says Dr. Baljit Singh, dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

“Environmental sustainability is woven into our infrastructure and will continue to support our teaching and research as we move forward. It means we can do better things over a longer period of time without having a major impact on the environment around us.”

The Clinical Skills Building expansion creates spaces for people to gather together, create more collaboration and better community engagement.

The Clinical Skills Building expansion creates spaces for people to gather together and collaborate.

Engineering Complex renovations and renewals create cutting-edge research space

New spaces for teaching, learning and research in the Schulich School of Engineering have been created through a full-scale interior renewal of Engineering Block C along with select renovations in Blocks B and D and the completion of the Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex.

Increasing the sustainability of the complex, a 59 kWh rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) array installed as part of the PSI-SIF-funded Utility Reduction Program is helping to partially power air-handling systems on Engineering Block G and is expected to generate 66,000 kWh per year.

This project also facilitated renovations throughout the entire Mechanical Engineering Building; replacing aged engineering research spaces with modern, well-serviced wet and dry labs for the faculty’s mechanical and manufacturing engineering research teams, and significantly improved work space for graduate students, faculty and staff.

“The Engineering Complex’s redeveloped spaces provide students and researchers with improved core research and teaching facilities that will energize research possibilities and provide an enriched learning environment,” says Bill Rosehart, dean, Schulich School of Engineering.

Strengthening research and innovation through PSI-SIF-funded infrastructure projects

In addition to the Vet Med expansion and Engineering Complex renewal and renovations, the other PSI-SIF-funded projects making an impact at UCalgary include:

  • High Density Library expansion: Approximately 4,500 square metres of storage and processing space was added to the existing LEED Gold-certified, high-performance storage facility, doubling its current capacity. Focused on using low-energy advanced technologies to provide the tightly controlled environmental conditions required for the storage of UCalgary’s cultural and archival materials, this expansion allows the facility to accommodate more than 700 linear kilometres of archival materials or an additional four million-plus book volumes. The expansion has also allowed Libraries and Cultural Resources to re-imagine its workflows and consolidate the ingestion of physical materials and the preservation of cultural resources to one location. 
  • Science A redevelopment Phase 2 early work:  As one of UCalgary’s original buildings, the redevelopment of Science A through PSI-SIF funding has laid the groundwork for future planned construction for this facility. Through workshop renewals, upgraded building controls and the relocation of laboratory space to the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building, the redevelopment is providing a better teaching environment for faculty and students and has improved the scale and quality of the faculty’s research facilities.
  • Utility Reduction Program Year 1 and 2 (URPr): URPr has been critical in advancing the university’s operational sustainability goals and aspirations. By rethinking how our buildings operate and implementing technological upgrades, URPr projects have achieved a sustained annual GHG emissions reduction of approximately 8,000 tonnes. These lighting, mechanical and retro-commissioning upgrades are supporting research by ensuring ideal environmental conditions for housing sensitive research instruments.
  • Research and Innovation Infrastructure Renewal (RIIR): Many of the RIIR upgrades happened behind the scenes to upgrade and renew critical building infrastructure that supports research space,s while increasing energy performance and functionality. With over 35 projects across campus receiving funding, the improvements to wet and dry labs are enhancing the environment in spaces where people share knowledge and form solutions for complex problems.
  • Research Field Station upgrades: The university’s research field stations play a critical role in supporting unique field studies and collaborative research initiatives in many areas including mountain and foothills ecology, environmental studies, wildlife, and measurable changes to our climate.
    • Upgrades to the Barrier Lake field station have made the building and laboratory spaces more efficient, and targeted improvements in the main lodge are supporting research by allowing for new functions and expanded capacity.
    • As one of Canada’s longest-running weather stations, the main campus Weather Research Station was relocated to the Spy Hill campus, making it easier to calibrate sensitive instruments for consistency of data. The modernized facility will also result in better collection of atmospheric and climate data for research purposes.
    • The RB Miller field station has been redeveloped as a high performance cabin structure designed to be off the grid, ensuring low energy consumption with integrated mechanical and electrical systems. Solar PV panels on the roof charge the structure’s batteries, which store up to three days’ worth of power.