MacKimmie Tower Energy Assessment


This project assessed the performance of the new double-façade MacKimmie Tower, the first UCalgary project certified under the Canada Green Building Council’s Zero Carbon Building standard. Taking the opportunity provided by the dramatically reduced occupancy in the building during the COVID-19 pandemic from summer 2020 to winter 2021, the building management system which records a large amount of data on the control set points, heating and cooling systems, and workspace zone temperatures was interrogated to find a useful subset of the data that characterizes the performance of the building. In the summer, two types of days were analyzed: cool cloudy days and hot sunny days. And in the winter, the building performance was assessed during a chilly week in December and a particularly cold week in February. The building comfort levels during these typical and extreme days were assessed along with the energy consumed to provide that comfort.

For this project, Celine Xiao participated in a Campus as a Learning Lab (CLL) project in partnership with Dr. David Wood from the Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department and Adam Stoker from the Office of Sustainability, and gained valuable insight from Annie-Claude Lachapelle, Campus Energy Manager. The goal of the project is to assess whether the building performs as designed and how the building can be optimized given its immense automation capabilities. The success of this building reaffirms UCalgary’s commitment to sustainability and encourages other institutions around the world to invest in green buildings.


  • Building temperature trends on Floors 3, 7, 10, and 15 were captured and will give insight into how the building responds on typical and extreme days in the summer and winter. In general, zones on the south side of the building were warming in the summer due to the sun exposure. In the winter, the north-east corners of the lower floors were much colder than the other zones on the same floor.
  • Energy consumption by the heating and cooling systems shows when the building is in high energy demand and how the building temperature changes when the systems are at operating at full capacity. Since the building is in stand-by mode over the weekend, large heating spikes were seen on cold Mondays to heat the building to a comfortable temperature.
  • Due to the high thermal mass of the building, the building takes a long time to respond to temperature changes. This meant that some building zones did not reach the minimum comfort-temperature until well past the time that they would normally be occupied. The building automation can be optimized to account for this time-dependent response which will result in higher energy efficiencies.
  • This study provided a baseline of the building temperature and energy use during low occupancy state. When the building is occupied, factors such as body heat, water use, and manual temperature controls can all have an impact on the building energy use.

Next Steps:

  • A future study after the COVID-19 pandemic could be conducted and compared against this study to analyze the temperature and energy use with full occupancy.
  • The Mackimmie Tower has the goal of reaching net-zero carbon. This would include the use of its rooftop solar panels along with other carbon negation features. A future study could focus on these technologies and analyze the building from a carbon perspective.