University of Waterloo's New Environmental Science and Engineering Building




The Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering (CESE) is UW's new six story building designed "to meet the research, teaching, and office needs of the University's academic programs." (1) The building will replace parking lot B1 adjacent to the Physics, Engineering 3, Earth Sciences, Davis centre and Chemistry II buildings. Originally budgeted for 31.5 million, the project was re-budgeted for 27.5 million. Complete architectural and mechanical specifications have been drafted for the building; A breakdown of the building's interior space usage is as follows: 71% Lab, 21% Office, and 8% Other. (2) It was originally scheduled for tender in May or June of 1996 with construction beginning later this year, however all activities are currently on hold due to uncertainties involved with provincial funding.


The purpose of this project is to research and evaluate the 'sustainability' of the proposed CESE building in the context of the UW campus. For our purposes the term sustainable can be defined as a state in which all persons assume an environmentally, socially, and economically responsible lifestyle without compromising the integrity of the natural environment. Therefore, to evaluate the sustainability of the CESE building, an analysis of its social and environmental responsibility as well as economic efficiency was necessary.

The initial direction of the project included an analysis of the CESE tendering policies and a full evaluation of the energy efficiency of the building. The scope of the project has been narrowed to examine the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and evaluate the feasibility of alternative of components for the HVAC system. The advanced stages in planning for the CESE building limited our focus, such that major structural changes were not able to be addressed at this point in the project. Therefore, changes to the HVAC system were limited to the substitution of product 'A' with product 'B' and could require minimal structural changes. A project such as CESE building has the potential to promote sustainability on campus. The building represents an excellent opportunity to set high standards for environmental, economical, and social responsibility for future developments on campus.


An efficient and cost effective HVAC system can have significant implications on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning requirements of a building. This translates directly into the reduced consumption of energy, which in most cases comes from non renewable energy sources. The increase in energy efficiency of the new CESE building, and hopefully future buildings on campus, will decrease the dependence of UW on external energy sources, thus making the campus more sustainable.

Minor structural changes as represented by improvements to the fans, windows and insulation will satisfy three key criteria. They will do any number of the following:

i) minimize the amount of required energy,
ii) maximize passive solar gain, and
iii) maximize heat retention.
The HVAC system, along with satisfying the above criteria, will be evaluated on the basis of their energy and environmental efficiency. How the HVAC system affects the natural environment in terms of energy consumption directly ties to the 'environmental' aspect of sustainability. Highly efficient components of the HVAC system reduce the demands for energy and therefore reduce the impact on the natural environment. The economic implications of the HVAC system are another key factor in the analysis of its sustainability. A comparison study was done between the proposed components of the HVAC system and some higher efficiency alternatives. It evaluated the overall short and long term efficiency by taking into account initial costs and future operating costs. It is with the intention of presenting energy and cost efficient technologies, that changes can be made to the existing system to increase the energy efficiency, therefore, resulting in lower long term operating costs to the university.

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