3.0 SOCIO-POLITICAL ASPECTS

The design of the building, and efficiencies of the technologies used, essentially represent the universities lack of commitment to innovative environmental design. In analysis of the technical components of the HVAC system, some broader theoretical questions arose. These questions pertained to issues of the decision making processes, student involvement, and the role of UW in the construction of such a building.

3.1 DECISION MAKING AT UW

Energy efficient technologies and design methods have proven to be more cost effective in the long run because of their lower operating costs. When designing new buildings, there are a great many things to consider. Tradeoffs must be made between different technologies and design methods. Highly energy efficient technologies generally require greater capitol investment and are often traded off in favour of achieving other goals, such as maintaining a given square footage. The University, having originally been granted the sum of $31.5 million for the building, is now receiving the reduced sum of 27.5 million and must obviously make the most efficient use of their funds. Calculating the tradeoffs between a number of issues has obviously been a part of planning committee's agenda.

Our general observation is that, the University did not pay sufficient attention to include energy efficient technologies. Instead more attention was focused on achieving maximum square footage. Energy efficient design is most cost effective in the long term, although often increasing greater initial expense translates directly into long term operating costs savings for the university. The key burden to the university, having received the funds from the provincial government will ultimately be the long term costs of operation and not the construction of the building. To achieve a long term cost effectiveness, the University need not spend more funds. They need to simply sacrifice space and other creature comforts. A direct criticism of the CESE planning committee or necessary space requirements is not intended; rather an observation is being made that a closer look at more energy efficient technologies might prove beneficial to the university in the long run.

3.2 STUDENT INVOLVEMENT

A part of any definition of sustainability must include social aspects which contribute to the health of the community. A key concept of social sustainability is shared decision making. At UW, a diverse range of faculties exist, as well as a number of 'environmental' disciplines such as environmental engineering, science, studies, and economics, from which students might have a particularly keen interest in the CESE building. Potential plans for the building were displayed in the Dana Porter library, input from students, faculty and staff could have been more aggressively pursued to discuss some opinions about what they wanted from the building, and what they expect it to represent.

Another possibility would have been to involve the students in such a way so as to use the CESE as a unique learning opportunity. Acknowledging that the final design for the building must be the work of professionals, opportunities to utilize the skills and knowledge of faculty and students would be beneficial. For example, measures could have been taken to involve the solar technology specialists on campus to supplement the existing electrical and heating systems with photo voltaic cells and solar panels respectively. Including students more heavily in the decision making and planning process of the CESE building would contribute to the social sustainability of the project.

3.3 UW AS A ROLE MODEL IN ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN

As a university, UW actively engages in the research and development of ideas, processes and technologies. As one of the leading educational institutions in Canada, the University of Waterloo arguably has an even greater role to play in this pursuit of new ideas and technologies. Having such a well respected engineering program, and a number of environmentally related disciplines, the University of Waterloo's Centre of Environmental Science and Engineering should represent leading environmental design strategies.

4.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

While developing and researching our project we discovered some areas where improvements could be made in the design of the CESE, and in the decision making process at UW in general. We have compiled four recommendations, the first, dealing directly with the planning of the CESE and others, concerning future development projects on the UW campus. Our recommendations propose that:

5.0 CONCLUSION

Working towards sustainability poses a number of challenges for UW. The current trend towards down-sizing and more efficient use of finances, an increased emphasis on costs has become more important in decision making processes. It can be concluded from the preceding data that the use of cost and energy efficient technologies can help to reduce the impact on the natural environment and decrease long term operating and maintenance costs. The reduced demand on energy systems and economic resources of the university would directly exemplify sustainability on campus. Increased student involvement in decision making processes at UW further incorporates social aspects of sustainability. The adoption of long term, low maintenance, and highly efficient construction systems is where sustainable development at UW begins, and it should begin with the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering.

ENDNOTES

  1. University of Waterloo, Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering Outline Specification. (Waterloo: October 31, 1995) 2.
  2. University of Waterloo, Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering Outline Specification, 2.
  3. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. (Waterloo: March 1, 1996) 15821-1.
  4. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 15823-2.
  5. John Kokko,Enermodal Engineering . Personal Interview, March, 1996.
  6. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 08522-3.
  7. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 08522-3.
  8. Dave Yo. Accurate Dorwin. Telephone Interview. March 1996.
  9. Yo, 1996.
  10. John Wiebe. Accurate Dorwin. Telephone Interview. March 1996.
  11. Yo, 1996.
  12. Yo, 1996.
  13. Gary Dake. Kawneer Canada. Telephone Interview. March 1996.
  14. Wiebe - (PPG). 1996.
  15. Wiebe, 1996.
  16. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 07200-5
  17. Posi Slope. Telephone Interview. April, 1996.
  18. Owens Corning. Telephone Interview. March, 1996.
  19. Posi Slope. Telephone Interview. April, 1996.
  20. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 09503-3
  21. Owens Corning. Telephone Interview. March, 1996.
  22. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. 09503-3
  23. Tom Simms. W-K Insulation. Telephone Interview. April, 1996.
  24. Simms, 1996
  25. University of Waterloo, Specifications for CESE. A6.2.
  26. Schuller Industries. Telephone Interview. March, 1996.
  27. Posi Slope. Telephone Interview. April, 1996.
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