March 28, 2017

UCalgary's newest residence buildings recognized for sustainable design and construction

Aurora and Crowsnest Halls earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification
Bright and welcoming shared spaces in the University of Calgary's newest residence buildings reflect sustainable design principles that support health, comfort and wellness.

Bright and welcoming shared spaces newest residence buildings reflect sustainable design principles.

Ewan Nicholson, for the University of Calgary

Named in homage to the Canadian Rockies, Aurora and Crowsnest Halls are home to over 650 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Calgary. They are also the most recent additions to the university's catalogue of buildings certified under the international Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. 

"Sustainable buildings reduce our carbon footprint while maximizing our sense of connection," says Randy Maus, director, Residence Services. "In addition to the health and wellness aspects of sustainable planning and the operational benefits in terms of reduced utility costs, these buildings help support a sense of community and efficacy."

For UCalgary's two newest residence buildings, low-emitting materials and a dedicated outdoor air system help provide excellent air quality year-round. Resident wellness is supported through ample daylighting and views — maximized by the respective shapes of the buildings — and through shared amenity spaces that contribute to creating strong and supportive student communities. Exterior features like the urban agriculture of Crowsnest's edible landscape aim to further support resident health and well-being.

When it comes to utilities, residence buildings traditionally tend to use more water than other buildings on campus, so Aurora and Crowsnest were fitted with low-flow fixtures throughout.

Residence buildings tend to use more water so buildings were fitted with low-flow fixtures.

Skogen Photography

The design/construction team also used energy modelling to ensure the buildings would produce no more than 100 kg of CO2 emissions per square meter each year.

"It's important that building and construction on campus, especially when it comes to residences like this, are taking steps towards being more sustainable," says Arron Lai, third-year kinesiology student, who calls Aurora Hall home.

"We need to keep the conversation going and to encourage a mindset that there's value in sustainability."

From apple trees and blueberry bushes to built-in waste and recycling chutes on every floor, there's something unique and even experimental about every green building project on campus.

A composting program launched in Crowsnest Hall this year. The success of the initiative has prompted expansion into other buildings in the near future.

A composting program launched in Crowsnest Hall this year.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

But for Lai, the stand-out feature in Aurora is obvious: the large, open windows throughout the building. Although, the recycling chutes ranked pretty high on his "things I'm going to miss next year" list.

"The windows are a huge difference maker; they help brighten the day and the views give you a sense of being present, not confined, seeing the outside world and interacting with it," he says.

"To me, sustainability is not just saving water and reducing emissions, it's everything together; it's working to be more environmentally conscious, economical and smart — sustainable in all senses."

The certification of Aurora Hall and Crowsnest Hall increases the total number of LEED certified projects at the University of Calgary to 11. An international green building rating system, LEED certification recognizes the two residences among Canadian and world leaders in sustainable design, construction and operations.