Greening the University of Waterloo’s Building Standards



ERS 285: Greening the Campus







Researchers: Karina Gregory, Stacey Vojtek, Erik Koopman, Levi Moore, Maren Vsetula






Greening the University of Waterloo’s Building Standards

Executive Summary

The impact and demand, which the University of Waterloo exacts upon the natural and resource environment, is large. For this reason the U of W community must incorporate and stay on the leading edge of resource efficient technology by integrating the research and work done by students, staff, and faculty through projects and programs such as WATgreen. It is also essential that the University create standards and policies that aim to ensure a process of continual improvement in sustainable design, implementation, management, and maintenance of the Campus community. These improvements must reflect the growing global crisis regarding the disproportionate and unsustainable consumption of resources.

This report looks at ways the University can ensure such a process of continual improvement is occurring within the Campus community. A critique of existing policies and building specifications was conducted to illustrate that the University of Waterloo has not kept up to date with the leading edge of resource efficient technology. A number of procedural and technical guidelines are recommended in order to outline certain principles that will help the University in becoming a sustainable community. Specific case studies are used to illustrate how other universities and a Canadian business have incorporated progressive, green policies that can easily be followed by the University of Waterloo. Interviews and general information searches were conducted in order to determine in what way the University of Waterloo could best improve the design, implementation, management and maintenance of the Campus community.

The research conducted in this project was limited by a time constraint. For this reason the recommendations must be seen as a sample of the information that could be used in creating and updating the University of Waterloo’s building standards and policies. Six examples are given outlining details that could be added to the existing building specifications, as well as a suggestion regarding certain guidelines that could be incorporated into a ‘General Requirements’ section at the beginning of the building specifications document. As well, we have provided key fundamental recommendations that should be incorporated into a Green Building Policy.


Without the guidance and helpful information provided by various individuals our project could not have been as detailed and concise as it is. We would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their contribution to our project.

Dave Churchill Director of Technical Services, University of Waterloo

Patti Cook Waste Management Co-ordinator, University of Waterloo

Denis Huber Assistant Provost General Services and Finance, University of


Steve Lefneski, Walter Fedy Partnership Architect

Dan Parent Architect, University of Waterloo

Paul Parker Geography Professor, local energy expert University of


Danial Shipp Project Co-ordinator for Village 1 Residence and Campus


Gene Starchuck Director of Business Services, University of Waterloo

Brian Staszenski Director of Destination Conservation

Susan Wismer Environment and Resource Studies Professor, University of


Anita Walker Greening the Campus Teaching Assistant, University of Waterloo

Jeff Zavitz Local Business Owner











Table of Contents

Executive Summary 2

Acknowledgments 3

1.0 Introduction 7

1.1 Background Problem & Rationale 7

1.2 Purpose 8

1.3 Limitations 8

2.0 Our Vision of Green Buildings 9

3.0 Context of Sustainability 9

4.0 Summary of Systems Diagram 10

5.0 Procedural Modifications 11

6.0 Research Methodology 11

6.1 Rationale 11

6.2 Literature Review 12

6.3 Case Studies 12

6.4 Key Interviews 13

6.5 Research Challenges 13

7.0 Research & Data Analysis 14

7.1 Literature Review 14

7.2 Comparison & Analysis of Case Studies 16

7.2.1 Purpose 16

7.2.2 Approaches Utilized for Comparison 16

7.2.3 Mountain Equipment Co-operative, Canada 18

7.2.4 Northland College, Wisconsin, United States 21

7.2.5 McGill University, Montreal, Quebec 22

7.2.6 Comparison of the three Case Studies 23

7.3 Interview Methodology Analysis 24

7.3.1 Interviewees 26

7.3.2 Approaches to Interview Analysis 26

8.0 Recommendations 30

8.1 Rationale 30

8.2 Green Building Policy 31

8.2.1 Importance of Green Policy 31

8.2.2 Fundamental Building Blocks for a Green 31

Building Policy

8.2.3 Implementation 33 8.3 Green Building Specifications 33

8.3.1 General Requirements 33

8.3.2 Suggested Changes to the Current Building 34


8.3.3 Methodology for Proposed Changes to be made 34

to the Building Specifications


8.3.4 Examples of ‘Greener’ Building Specifications 35

Example 1 Reduction of Excess Packaging 35

Example 2 Roads and Parking Lots--- 36

--Granular Base

Example 3 Insulated Glass Units 37

Example 4 Electrical: Lighting 38

Example 5 Plumbing Fixtures 40

Example 6 Air Handling Equipment 42

8.3.5 Recommendations for Building Specifications 43

8.4 General Requirements for Building Specifications 43

8.5 Additional Recommendations 45

9.0 Summary of Recommendations 45

10.0 Final Remarks 46

11.0 References 48

12.0 Further Reading and Resources 49

Appendix A Systems Diagram 52

Appendix B Working Overview of Proposal 54

Appendix C Example of a Building Specification 56

Appendix D Raw Data: Interviews 57







List of Tables



Table 1 Literature Review 15

Table 2 Green Initiatives adopted by the three Case Studies 17

Table 3 Questions regarding feasibility of Green Building 26


Table 4 Promotion of Green Building Construction 27

Table 5 Barriers to the Construction of Green Buildings 28

Table 6 Most effective means in achieving Sustainability 29


1.1 Background Problem & Rationale

Currently the University of Waterloo’s established building standards and policies do not reflect environmentally conscious building designs and methods. We recognize that many initiatives have been taken to make our school more environmentally sound but in relation to what industry has provided as far as alternatives, the university could make significant improvements. Most critical, is the need for improvement within the area of building design and construction. We feel that as an institute of Academia, the University of Waterloo has an obligation to the local and global community to demonstrate a model of a sustainable community. Sustainability is, as defined by (Ahlberg WATgreen project 800), an on-going process of holistic planning that ensures the attainment of current and future needs. Buildings not only serve as places to learn, but are also educational tools for students, staff, and faculty to broaden their awareness of the impact architectural practices have on our environment.

The University of Waterloo has developed a campus-wide committee that focuses on environmental initiatives called WATgreen. WATgreen was established in 1990 as an advisory committee of faculty, staff and students initiating and investigating university greening initiatives dealing with topics such as waste water, energy, transportation and landscape management and conservation (Cook, personal communication, March 24 2000). Within the context of WATgreen is Greening the Campus a course that students conduct research studies using the university as a laboratory to establish recommendations to make the campus more sustainable (WATgreen, 2000).

Up to date there has been an extensive amount of research done on green building standards and policies within the context of WATgreen and Greening the Campus. Although a few Greening the Campus topics have made reference to this topic there has been little to no follow-up research conducted.

1.2 Purpose

The purpose of this project was to find a means to improve building construction on campus in an environmentally sound manner. Our objective is to present more adaptable green building standards and a policy that are realistic and useable that work within the current university planning and design systems.

The original strategy was to illustrate how the existing set of university building construction policies could be made more reflective of the universities’ commitment to sustainability. This strategy was chosen based on an initial needs assessment interview performed with Dave Churchill (February 18, 2000). Six key examples of building standards within the base building specifications of the university were chosen to illustrate how the universities’ building specifications could be updated and improved. In addition, we have outlined building policies that we feel would meet the universities’ goal of becoming a example of sustainability as referred to in the Master Plan of the University of Waterloo (Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg Ltd, 1992). Our strategy has become multi-dimensional as we discovered the intricate workings of University policy making.

We have been working in conjunction with the WATgreen committee and their broader goal of implementing green awareness into the university agenda. Patti Cook of WATgreen, Dave Churchill, Dan Parent, and Gene Starchuck of Plant Operations, Denis Huber and the university Administration will hopefully utilize the recommendations of this project to make the university more sustainable.

1.3 Limitations

We have not dealt directly with the Ontario Building Codes, but have focused specifically on the university building specifications, and the systems that directly influence their design and implementation. This project did not detail specific aspects of green buildings, green technology or extensively rewrite the building specifications. Instead we have provided examples of how this can be done and suggested broader policies that should be applied to all elements of the building process. Despite the obvious economic and administrative implications of new and revised construction regulations on campus, our project intends to present feasible recommendations that aim to implement green architecture on campus.

2.0 Our Vision of Green Buildings

As an institution of Academia, the university should commit itself to creating green buildings. As stated in the University of Waterloo Master Plan "the University is in an excellent position to benefit from the emerging environmental policies of the Provincial and Federal Governments, and to tap into the unusually high concentration of environmentally-based businesses which are now present in the Kitchener-Waterloo area ( Master Plan, 1992, pg.17). Green buildings would provide excellent learning opportunities as educational tools for students and the community. These buildings would also provide health benefits to its occupants and relieves undue stress on the natural environment. The long-term economic benefits would far surpass the initial capitol costs. A paradigm shift is needed in order to address the fundamental building design and concepts that are currently being used. The time has come that we can no longer sit idly by and continue to use unsustainable development practices. The university has the technology and the potential within the surrounding communities to make the needed changes.

3.0 Context of Sustainability


The University of Waterloo has been faced with the daunting task of accommodating a growing number of students, while relying upon shrinking government subsidies for the construction of new facilities. For this reason Universities have raised tuition levels while creating policies that prioritize quantity, (space), as opposed to quality, (sustainable design). These policies are a negative and unnecessary repercussion of circumstance, and must be re-evaluated if the University is to meet the demands of a society that increasingly depends upon a dwindling supply of resources.

As a center for higher education, the University of Waterloo must work towards developing an institution that acts as a model of sustainable local development. Ensuring that there are specific policies, which guide the University in becoming more energy efficient and less resource intensive can do this. Policies such as this will only become a reality when the University realizes that the very nature of the research done by students and faculty can serve as the key component of developing mechanisms that propel the University of Waterloo toward a goal of sustainable development on-campus.



4.0 Summary of Systems Diagram

See Systems Diagram in Appendix A

There are many factors that influence the type of building construction policies used on the university campus. Not only must the university adhere to the Ontario Building Standards, but there are also specific university policies beyond these that reflect the financial and social priorities of our institution. Our systems diagram has differentiated between the internal and external systems influencing the university. The internal system consists of the various decision-makers and actors that impact the policy choices made at the University of Waterloo. Yet, contractors, provincial standards, public pressure and other forces invariably influence the university as well. Our systems diagram reflects these areas of influence as being outside of our systems boundary, the external system. The scope of our project contains those policies and standards, written and unwritten, that pertain to the university campus, the internal system there in, and those policies of the external system that directly influence the university decision making procedure.

The systems diagram makes use of different size arrows to illustrate the degree of influence that each actor has upon the final implemented design of a new building. The scope of our potential influence and detailed analysis has been generally limited to the actors that fall within the internal system boundaries. We have presented our findings in such a way so as to address a new set of green building specifications. These are intended to specifically affect the decision-making mechanisms within the Finance Committee and the New Building Committee (see systems diagram, Appendix A).

Many of the building design decisions made at the University of Waterloo are based solely upon budgetary considerations. Although this is an essential component that must be addressed in the building design, our study aims to highlight the fact that ecologically sustainable building specifications should be the foremost priority considered in the building design of any new University of Waterloo construction project. This project aims to illustrate that an agenda, which prioritizes sustainable development is not only more economically feasible than the current agenda, but will give the university’s students a competitive edge in a world that increasingly relies upon a dwindling supply of resources. (see Appendix B for chart of a working overview of the areas to be researched within our study)

5.0 Procedural Modifications

Throughout the process of establishing a focus an d objective for this project, we encountered several obstacles that required us to continually refocus the project scope. This was a lengthy and time-consuming process, although it was necessary in order to generate results that could be utilized. It was an excellent group building experience for all involved and it also provided an insight as to how the University of Waterloo’s system dynamics operate.

6.0 Research Methodology

6.1 Rationale

We have used three different research methods to gather information for this project. These methods include a literature review, case studies and key interviews. It is important to use at least three different methods in order to make sure the data is consistent. This concept, triangulation, is critical to ensure validity and reliability of the research question (Wismer, personal communication, January 25, 2000). The design of thoughtful and appropriate data is essential for any good project (Palys, 1997). We feel that the three methods stress the concept of validity through gaining an understanding of each actors’, the community and industry’s standpoint, on sustainable approaches and have enabled us to fulfill our goal of providing recommendations for building construction and improvement (Palys, 1997). Choosing methods appropriate to the broad scope and complexity of our project was a very difficult task. We chose methods that were able to challenge the existing political and systematic structures at the University of Waterloo.

It is necessary to address the inter-rater reliability of the project’s purpose and objectives therefore if another group of researchers were to apply the exact same methodology including the same questions and table analysis, they would generate the same results (Palys, 1997).

6.2 Literature Review

The data collection provided us with a foundation for all subsequent research. In this section the focus was on three main areas of research: a) general information regarding green building alternatives, b) past WATgreen and University of Waterloo initiatives, and c) existing University of Waterloo building specifications and policies. This research provided the context and background for the kinds of changes that could improve the flexibility of University of Waterloo policies regarding building construction. There were a total of thirteen resources used, including: the internet, books, journals, previous WATgreen projects which dealt with green buildings, existing University of Waterloo building policies and building specifications and the ASHRAE standards. This information provided the proper context for our subsequent research and helped to frame the focus of investigation more narrowly.

6.3 Case Studies

Each case study was examined for its achievements, as well as the structure under which the green improvements were passed and what the barriers were to those improvements. Three case studies were be conducted: a Canadian University, an American College, and a Co-operatively owned business. The case studies were McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Northland College, and Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada. The research into other campuses served three purposes:

  1. to encourage greener building construction policies at the University of Waterloo through examples of universities that have created policies that prioritize less environmentally destructive construction;
  2. to present greener building alternatives on other campuses so that our recommendations for policy changes at University of Waterloo will be supported by concrete examples; and
  3. to provide research that illustrates specific alternatives in the context of a university environment. Therefore the size of the buildings and the environment in which the building is constructed can be compared.

The research of a Canadian business and its buildings will focus on the initiatives taken by a corporation of approximate size and structure. The construction of these buildings in the Canadian context has made sustainable building design a prerogative.

6.4 Key Interviews

Ten interviews were used in order to provide us with a clear connection to the campus and the greater community. We have interviewed various members of the university staff and administration who directly influence the policy choices that the university makes. In the public realm, we interviewed consultants practicing green alternative building design as well as experts utilized by the university. We used a combined mixture of open-ended and structured questions to gather thoughtful and appropriate data.

6.5 Research Challenges

When performing the information search it was very difficult to narrow the focus since there is such an extensive amount of information available relating to the system that we are working within. Much of the relevant information was located on the Internet, which is a challenge in itself as there is no rating system to ensure that the information found is reliable. Another challenge that we encountered was locating University of Waterloo policy information. Due to the ongoing budgetary constraints within Plant Operations, there are many roadblocks to information due to the lack of adequate staffing.

The case studies that were chosen are helpful although we found it difficult to find examples of buildings that had similar variables (size, institutions, etc) to those of the University of Waterloo. In addition, we found it much more challenging to find a Canadian University with a good example of green building construction, whereas the United States has numerous initiatives on university campuses.

The challenge that occurred with the interview process was gathering related data, focusing questions and organizing meaningful information. Scheduling was a small hurdle, especially arranging interviews to fit within our individual agendas. We felt that a significant part of our data gathering and interviewing should be a collective process so that we all understood the pertinent information and could then make consensus decisions based on our shared knowledge. A major obstacle we discovered when interviewing key informants was that building standards are ultimately no-ones responsibility. Therefore difficulty arose when attempting to find effective and efficient recommendations on how to update the current building standards.


7.0 Research and Data Analysis

7.1 Literature Review

Through our analysis of the various resources that were reviewed, we have concluded three points about green building construction and design.

  1. Green Building design and construction is becoming more and more popular and in this transition it becoming far more feasible
  2. Green Building design and construction has touched the campuses of many universities and colleges around the world
  3. There is an abundant amount of information related to green building materials, designs, and implementation although not a lot related to green building policies

Most information provided does not really go into too much depth regarding financial benefits of green buildings. We feel that the information that is readily available primarily on the Internet would be very beneficial to Plant Operations as well as the University of Waterloo’s Administration to see how feasible green buildings can be.

Table 1

Literature Review Analysis


Literature Source

Does the source relate to Green building design and construction?

Does the source offer an understanding to Green building implementation at the UW?

Does the source relate to the creation of Green Building Policy?

Oberlin College




Blueprint for a Green Campus








Campus Ecology




US Green Building Council








Big Green Discussion Group




Mountain Equipment Co-op








Office of Energy Efficiency (NRCan)




NRTEE Green Guide




Green Building Information Council




Sustainability and University Life




1 = strongly agree 2 = agree 3 = neutral 4 = disagree 5 = strongly disagree

7.2 Comparison and Analysis of Case Studies

7.2.1 Purpose

7.2.2 Approaches utilized for Comparison

It is difficult to compare how ‘green’ one institution is with another. Details can be misleading when working with a variety of manufacturers, products, technologies, and so on. The context of green buildings is unbelievably complex so the comparison of the three case studies we limited it to:


Table 2

Green Initiatives adopted by the three Case Studies

Case Study

Energy Efficiency



Mountain Equipment Co-op

HPC -1340 Refrigerant

Exposed concrete floor

Secure bike room

CFC Free Refrigerant

Carpet Tile

Spec for env. friendly paint

Water Closets

Linoleum Sheet Floor

Reused Buildings

Electronic Urinals

Water Based Glues

Exterior landscaping

Low flow Plumbing fixtures

Low Volatile, Organic, Compound, Paints

Filtered water

Computerized BPS

Formaldehyde free medite millwork

Outdoor furniture constructed from salvaged telephone poles

High Efficiency Double Glazing Windows

Wool Carpeting

Rockwall Insulation

sky lights and reflectors

upholstery made out of recycled furniture

Ceiling Mounted extractor fans controlled by BPS

galvanized corrugated metal sidings

Recycled glass counter piece

Reused Drywall

ample meeting rooms

Isolated Fan Compartments

Reused Handrails, fire alarms, sprinklers

Organic "Free Trade" coffee

Natural Gas Water Heater

Reconditioned Workstation dividers

Farmed Maple highlights

Daylight sensor

Floor made from recycled roof material

On site compost Garden

T8 Florescent lights, electronic ballast

Marmoleum flooring

Indoor Plants

Lights controlled by BPS

High reflectance paint

minimal painted surfaces

Occupancy light sensors in Office and washrooms

crushed concrete granular fill under basement slab

Roof Garden - indigenous species

Terrace Gardens - drip irrigation

Mountain Equipment Co-op

Photovoltaic power to exterior lights

Reclaimed Disulphogypsum wall board

High efficiency LED exit signs

Concrete 50% blast furnace slag

Argon gas filled double paned windows

Higher temp setting for air conditioning

BPS controlled Clerestory windows

Low flow, water saving fixtures

Passive Solar Design

120 ft. 20 kilowatt wind tower

Composting waterless toilet

2 Greenhouses

3 photo-voltaic arrays

Local material/local processing

Solar panels

Organic based linoleum flooring

High efficiency Natural Gas Boiler

Cellulose attic Insulation (R-45)

Heat Recovery unit in ventilation system

Fiberglass and foam insulation (R-25)

High efficiency light fixtures/motors/appliances

Bio-composite Material

Low-emissivity coated glass, HP-4 to the south

Computer monitoring of electrical system

HP-5 everywhere else.

McGill University

Living Machine

Reduced landfill

Green house

Greywater system (proposed)

Cellulose insulation

Rooftop garden

wastewater removal system

reuse windows

Terrace (proposed)

Rethinking Heating System

reuse structure

Communal garden

donated furnishing cabinetery


7.2.3 Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

"Mountain Equipment Co-operative is a member owned and directed retail consumer co-operative which provides products and services for self-propelled wilderness oriented recreational activities, such as hiking and mountaineering, at the lowest reasonable price in an informative, helpful and environmentally responsible manner", (MEC, 2000).

MEC has facilities in four major cities across Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary with the head office in Vancouver. Each of these facilities have been designed to reflect the organizations commitment to the outdoors and the environment by incorporating a variety of ‘green’ initiatives to reduce their ecological footprint. One of MEC’s core values is to "respect and protect our natural environment (both wilderness and urban)" and many of its facilities serve as educational tools, which further promotes environmental awareness (MEC, 2000).

MEC was chosen as a case study for five reasons:

  1. This is a Canadian example that bears similar economic, social, and demographic challenges as the University of Waterloo.
  2. The target clientele is demographically very similar to that of the University of Waterloo: high levels of education, fitness and environmental consciousness.
  3. This retail organization must consider economic issues and client satisfaction as major factors.
  4. Being a large organization, its multiple facilities receive high levels of use.
  5. Building "Green" is an extremely valuable priority.

MEC’s commitment to the outdoors and the environment is reflected in the various store buildings, which have incorporated a variety of technological, structural, and design elements that make them a showcase of sustainability. MEC serves as an example of how buildings can provide the basic facility purposes while incorporating ‘green’ elements into its operation and amenities in a cost effectively manner.

MEC is primarily a Canadian corporation with facilities within Canada, which must comply with Federal and Provincial Building Code specifications similar to those in Ontario, which the University of Waterloo must follow. For every new building, MEC must either create its own building code specifications or hire an architectural firm to do so for them based upon these codes. Under due consideration of budgetary constraints similar to the University of Waterloo’s (quantity vs. quality, and maintenance), tradeoff in space, location, and amenities were made because of a priority for a more environmentally friendly building expressed by its clientele. The sacrifice is not to be underestimated, aspects like space, location and amenities have major implications to successful businesses (Bater, 1999). The priority of ‘green’ building is significant because of the similar demographic that the University and MEC share. It has been proven that those people that engage in outdoor recreation are typically highly educated, and commonly University graduates (Eagles, 2000). It is these graduates that have prioritized more environmentally friendly structures of their recreational retailers it is only logical that they would also place a priority of Green buildings upon the institutes of their education.

Though each of MEC’s buildings are different, four basic tenets were followed in all MEC construction and renovations: reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink. A lot of emphasis is placed upon the connection of nature, people and the community. As stated on the website, "very little is hidden; finishing materials are minimized to reduce embodied energy and to remind us always of the mechanisms we build to provide us with ‘comfort’. Environmental initiatives include reduced energy use in heating and cooling systems: maximized natural light; and reused wood from demolished buildings. The use of interior finishing was minimized, and there is even a roof garden that eases demand on city sewers during periods of peak run-off" (MEC, 2000). See the following table 2 for a complete list of the more than 50 initiatives that MEC has implemented to make its buildings more environmentally friendly.

MEC is primarily focused upon structural, low cost, highly visible modifications to the building structure with the aim to achieve a more sustainable ecological footprint.

The Living and Learning Center at Northland College was focused towards fewer, high-profile, high impact modifications around which their building was designed. McGill took a more holistic stance and attempted to incorporate both approaches into its facilities.



7.2.4 Northland College: Environmental Living and Learning Center

William H Mansfield III, former deputy executive director, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said that Northland College is home to "…one of the most environmentally advanced residence halls in the world." (Northland, 2000). Northland College constructed its new residence building in 1998 at a cost of 4.1 million and sleeps 114 students. It represents Northland Colleges commitment to apply in practice what it teaches about developing a sustainable future and provides a unique living and learning opportunity emphasizing resource efficiency and renewable energy (Northland, 2000).

The goal of the center was to achieve energy and water efficiency at a rate 40% greater than a typical building designed to the standard building code.

Northland College’s Environmental Living and Learning Center was chosen as a case study for five reasons:

  1. It is a building created by an American college with generally similar financial and administrative systems as the University of Waterloo’s.
  2. It is a facility for higher education with a stated priority towards environmental awareness similar to that of the University of Waterloo’s. It provides an example of how roadblocks in the financial and administrative systems can be challenged.
  3. It is a residential building that was built by a community college and as such is comparable in purpose, structure and function to the new residence about to be constructed by the University of Waterloo.
  4. The Center at Northland College is an example of how ‘green’ buildings can be constructed and maintained economically.
  5. It provides a minimal standard, which all new buildings should be built.

Northland has taken a ‘bottom up’ approach to greening its buildings. They built the Living and Learning Center around the technology that made it green. Instead of adding on later or upgrading after the fact, Northland is taking a preventative stance to its new building construction. Northland has adopted a radical approach with the implementation of alternative technology. One example of this is the composting waterless toilets and the 120 ft, 20 kilowatt wind tower (see Table 2 for a detailed listing of what the college has done towards creating ‘green’ building).

7.2.5 McGill University: MacDonald Campus-EcoResidence

In 1998, McGill University began to demolish one of its residences but then decided to take advantage of the situation and began the creation of an EcoResidence (Alternatives, 2000). This case study is examined in terms of the renovations and should be useful for implementation in the existing and upcoming University of Waterloo residences. This is an example of a simple way that a building can be made green. McGill University is also an example of the value many people place on green buildings. McGill strongly values its reputation as a green campus and takes pride in facilitating an educational tool for McGill students. The prestige McGill receives for being a leader in the field of environmental construction is extremely important, which reflects their goal of being a strong leader with a wide range of environmental initiatives.

McGill University and specifically the MacDonald EcoResidence was chosen as a case study for the following reasons:

  1. It is a Canadian University with a prestigious profile.
  2. It is commonly recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly Universities in Quebec.
  3. McGill has been a leader in the promotion of green buildings.
  4. McGill has taken a uncomplicated approach to constructing its facilities. The most significant aspect of McGill’s renovations was summarized well in the statement made by the project architect, Danny Pearl. He stated, "as long as the fundamental plan is right, then ecological features can always be an option", (Alternatives, pg. 7, 2000). Essentially this means that the building foundation should be created to be easily upgraded with environmental technologies in the future when the economic barriers have been elevated. McGill is attempting to implement advanced technologies that challenge the traditional building fundamentals such as a living wall, a greywater system and a community terrace garden (Alternatives, 2000)

7.2.6 Comparison of three Case Studies

When comparing the three facilities MEC outperformed the other two case studies by sheer quantity, with Northland and McGill following consecutively. It should be noted that quantity does not represent the quality of improvement. Many excellent ideas can still be drawn from the latter case studies. Priority was assigned by frequency of occurrence for specific improvements. Those green modifications that occurred in more than one case study were given a higher priority as recommendations for the University of Waterloo.

All three case studies made an attempt to improve its efficiency in the following areas: water, lighting, space heating and energy consumption. Special emphasis was placed upon passive solar design of the buildings. They also emphasized buying local, using high efficiency and/or natural insulation, implementing high efficiency water and electrical outlets and including some sort or combination of fill, glazing, or pane combination in the window assembly. The most frequent priority resulting from the case studies was energy efficiency.

Initiatives supported by at least two of the case studies were using recycled materials, renovated space, reused utilities and environmentally or health conscious products. Emphasis was placed on exterior gardening, community terraces, greenhouses, rooftop gardens and interior floral design. In general community habitat was the second emphasis made by the case studies. Special initiatives conducted by only one case study included living machines, greywater systems and wind towers.

The current uneconomical nature of alternative energy was reflected in by its weak presence in the case studies. For the most part, it was included in the design for educational purposes. In some cases the initiative significantly reduced the buildings demands for energy from traditional energy production.

Four main points resulted from this analysis:

  1. Create a building with what materials you have access to.
  2. Include as much green as you can into a building given such restraints as economics and priority.
  3. Make the building easy to upgrade, by providing the basic elements of a green building like a passive solar design, high quality insulation and reused or recycled structural materials.
  4. Incorporate flora into or around buildings to encourage a more livable and healthy habitat.

The importance of reducing, reusing, recycling and rethinking in building construction were the overriding conclusions within these case studies. It is highly recommended that these case studies be drawn on as examples not only for how a green building can be created but also for the criteria of what constitutes a green building. The case studies demonstrate the beginning of a paradigm shift towards changing priorities towards incorporating environmental consciousness into our living space. The above case studies are each examples of how various institutions have made necessary changes to achieve what they feel is sustainable. If these case studies were compared with the current proposal for a new residence building recently put forward by the University of Waterloo, our definition of sustainability is severely lacking.


7.3 Interview Methodology Analysis

As stated above one of the three methods chosen for data collection for this report was through performing key interviews. The process chosen for interviewing was qualitative. A general interview question sheet was created and additional questions were inserted specific to each interview (appendix, under construction). We have summarized the interviews into a concise format that only includes the pertinent information obtained from our interviews.

The object of this approach was twofold. First of all, the interview process allowed us an efficient and effective way of gathering information from key decision-makers within the university administration. As well, this approach provided us with an opportunity to make use of the knowledge and wisdom of those working in the community with regards to design and construction of buildings. Many of our community interviews, notably those with Daniel Shipp, Brian Staszenski and Jeff Zavitz, were interviews with people who are making the goal of environmental sustainability key to their business practices. This allowed us to identify the problems both from the universities perspective and from the perspective of those outside of the university who have found means to establish and promote green building practices.

Patti Cook of WATgreen pointed us towards our initial key interviewees within the university context. Each of the initial key interviewees gave additional suggestions for further contacts relating green building standards and policies. Due to past working relationships, one of our group members was able to compile a list of appropriate community experts relating to our topic.

The second objective of performing interviews was to establish an understanding of how decisions regarding building construction and policy were being made on campus and to see where this system might obstruct the potential for future greener building practices to evolve on campus. With this objective in mind, we were able to focus on ways in which policy changes and improvements could be of benefit to the existing system and become effective means for creating change.

Through this interview process, we discovered how various interviewees involved in building design and construction differed in their views of the most effective means for creating university policy that would allow for greener future building construction. For example, although many of university staff clearly believed that the financial factor was the largest obstacle that the university needed to overcome, people in the community felt that the university could choose to make greener building construction a priority without a substantial increase in costs. A second example within the framework of the university itself, was how various decision-makers differed on what they considered the most effective means for creating a policy that would be effective and adhered to. Various ideas included writing a general green policy, creating a green policy statement that could be inserted into the building brief written for each new building proposal and greening the university specifications.

The dichotomy of views established through the interview process has encouraged us to take a multi-dimensional approach to creating university policy that will promote greener building construction. We have produced a set of recommendations for the university with various ideas on how they might establish an effective green building policy for the institution. Within this we will look at covering all the bases proposed by our interviewees for establishing policies that will be meaningful.

7.3.1 Interviewees

The interviewees were from both within the university staff and from businesses in the community. The university staff includes Denis Huber, associate provost of finance, Dan Parent, school architect, and Gene Starchuk, Director of Business Services. The community members include Brian Staszenski, executive Director of a Canadian business called Destination Conservation which helps implement waste, water, energy conservation programs in elementary and secondary institutions. Daniel Shipp who previously worked for the university as project coordinator for both the village one and student life center renovation projects. Finally, Jeff Zavitz who is a local designer and builder and who incorporates green thinking into all his construction projects.

7.3.2 Approaches to Interview Analysis

In the following interview analysis, several charts were created to evaluate the interviewees’ perspective on the various questions that were posed. A qualitative ranking has been applied to some of the charts below. Originally, we provided a five-step ranking system (strongly disagree to strongly agree with neutral in the middle). After critical analysis was undertaking we concluded that the neutral option was never used so therefore the neutral option was eliminated from the analysis.

Table 3

Questions Regarding Feasibility of Green Building Implementation



Do you think the University can make green buildings without additional cost?

Is the university the appropriate environment for promoting the newest green technology and for going above and beyond the norm?

Denis Huber



Dan Parent



Gene Starchuk



Dave Churchill



Paul Parker



Daniel Shipp



Brian Staszenski



Jeff Zavitz



Steve Lefneski



This table clearly indicates how the perceptions of green technology vary significantly. There were some decision-makers on campus who felt that additional green building initiatives could be achieved in construction on campus, although the majority saw economic barriers as an obstacle for further greening practices. It is interesting however, that those who were optimistic about discovering methods for greening construction practices on campus were the same individuals who felt that the university should be promoting green technology even if the initial capital costs go beyond the five year return of investment.

Table 4

Promotion of Green Building Construction

Question: What would be the best way to promote and improve the use of green building construction methods at U of W?




Green Specifications

A Green Policy

Student, Staff and Community Pressure

Jeff Zavitz




Denis Huber




Dan Parent




Gene Starchuk




Dave Churchill




Daniel Shipp




Paul Parker




Brian Staszenski




Steve Lefneski




1 = strongly agree 2 = agree 3 = disagree 4 = strongly disagree


Various opinions exist with regards to the preferred means for promoting and improving green building construction. The idea of greening the universities specifications (or including green specifications within the building brief as suggested by Dan Parent), was well received by most decision-makers at the university but was strongly discouraged by a few members of the community who work closely with the university on building construction. This led us to seek other means for influencing university decision-makers to promote green building construction. We found that the two other areas suggested by our interviewees that would promote changes on campus were the creation of a university policy and the persistent pressure of the staff, students and community that this is something they expect from the university. The interviewees were generally consistent about agreeing that a green policy would be beneficial, although there was some strong objection expressed to this method. The majority of the individuals from outside of the university felt that if the pressure were put on the university to create greener buildings, the decision-makers on campus would find a way to implement such projects.


Table 5

Barriers to the Construction of Green Buildings

Question: Why is the university not constructing greener buildings?




Do not think it could be cost effective

Do not know what industry is doing?

Specs are not green

Do not see it as the priority

Jeff Zavitz





Denis Huber





Dan Parent





Gene Starchuk





Dave Churchill





Daniel Shipp





Paul Parker





Brian Staszenski





Steve Lefneski





1 = strongly agree 2 = agree 3 = disagree 4 = strongly disagree


It is unanimous that the university is not constructing green buildings because the university does not think that it would be cost effective to do so. However, as you can see by the first table, many of the interviewees do not think that it would require additional costs for the university to make greener buildings. It has been demonstrated that many of the interviewees feel that if the university chose to redefine its definition of cost effectiveness to incorporate a longer pay back period, the university would be able to substantially increase the extent of greener building construction initiatives taken on campus.

Table 6

Most Effective Means in Achieving Sustainability

Question: What are the most effective means of achieving sustainability on campus?





Buying local


Reduction of waste in construction practices


Using recycled materials


Behavioral practices


Reduction of energy use

Jeff Zavitz






Denis Huber






Dan Parent






Gene Starchuk






Dave Churchill






Daniel Shipp






Paul Parker






Brian Staszenski






Steve Lefneski






1 = strongly agree 2 = agree 3 = disagree 4 = strongly disagree


This table helps to give an indication of the most prominent areas that the interviewees believe could improve sustainability with regards to building construction. Buying local was supported by a lot of community interviewees, although there was recognition from university decision-makers that new federal legislation prohibits preference between products based on geographical location. Most decision-makers on campus were often not aware of the areas for greatest improvement presented by community people. They all tended to focus on the idea of behavioral practices being the area offering the most opportunity for improvement. This implies that a lot of the possible improvements that the university could be making as far as green building construction may not be ideas that the university decision-makers are familiar with.

8.0 Recommendations

8.1 Rationale

After completing all of our research we have come to the conclusion that it is imperative that the University of Waterloo update the current Building Specifications and create a Green Building Policy. The current Building Specifications do not challenge the core environmental downfalls that the University has. The University of Waterloo needs to plan and execute incremental steps that will ensure the successful transition in becoming a showcase for sustainability. Developing two broad categories will begin to tackle this issue: 1) By updating the current building specifications by-annually and 2) Creating a university wide Green Building Policy.

We realize that some of the material covered within the recommendations is somewhat repetitious this was intentional, as we want to ensure that they are not overlooked.

Updating the current specifications to include up to date technological advances and materials will ensure that the University remains up to speed on cost benefit practices and environmentally sound practices. Often times, the changes needed in the building specifications are minimal and apply common sense principles like reduce, reuse and recycle. Many of the needed changes are already being done to some buildings across the campus although it is not documented anywhere, which results in inconsistencies within the university building practices, and renovations.


8.2 Green Building Policy


8.2.1 Importance of Green Policies

Many Universities have taken the initiative to create policies that bring environmental concerns to the forefront of development on campus. As there is no current policy that states that buildings should be designed, built and maintain to a certain green standard we believe that it is imperative that the University of Waterloo create and utilize a green building policy. We have found through our research that if there is no formal requirement to build with an environmental conscious than it simple will not be done. Many of the key interviewees suggested that a policy should definitely be created to ensure that in the future buildings are designed, built and maintained to a certain green standard. We believe that by creating a green building policy the University of Waterloo will move one step closer to becoming a true showcase of sustainability.

8.2.2 Fundamental Building Blocks for a Green Building Policy

Below are several examples of what we feel should be found within such a policy.

  1. Include environmentally sensitive specifications in all university goods and services contracts.
  2. Environmentally responsible purchasing means including environmental criteria

    such as toxicity and safety, durability, use of recycled products and non-hazardous

    chemicals and materials, and reduced energy and water consumption in procurement


    Purchasing with the environment in mind will help create and sustain markets for

    environmentally sound products

  3. As an individual institution and through cooperative purchasing agreements with other universities and other large institutions, the university should wherever possible purchase and require the use of products produced in an environmentally sustainable manner with a high recycled content, which demonstrate maximum durability, are biodegradable, energy-efficient, nontoxic, and recyclable. Examples include recycled carpet padding, sustainable wood products, recycled steel, "glassphalt" (asphalt made with recycled glass), and insulation made with recycled paper, non-synthetic carpets, nontoxic paints and adhesives, and products and technologies that maximize energy efficiency. (Envirocitizen, 2000).
  4. Incorporate guidelines for energy-efficiency, proper ventilation, and non-toxic, environmentally sound construction materials.
  5. Designate recycling areas into the floor plans of campus building and remodeling projects so recycling containers do not pose a fire or safety hazard as well as to encourage on campus recycling.
  6. Buildings should be designed to ensure that quality of life is taken into consideration.
  7. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared poor indoor air quality a major

    national health concern, lending urgency to efforts to redesign campus buildings (Envirocitizen, 2000).

    Many buildings on campus have not been designed to accommodate to living

    plants that act as air filters.

  8. University buildings should be constructed in such a way as to be learning tools for the students, staff and faculty and the local and global community at large.
  9. The University should take initiative and prioritize objectives to not only focus on economic factors like quick Return on Investment. Become a leader. Lead by example.

8.2.3 Implementation

We have prepared a few suggestions that we feel would help in the implementation process of the policy they are as follows:



8.3 Green Building Specifications

8.3.1General Requirements

The University of Waterloo must update their building specifications so as to keep up to standard with the latest technological improvements in energy efficiency, resource conservation, and value. It is insufficient for the University of Waterloo to design new buildings and conduct repairs purely under the guidelines provided by the ASHRAE 90.1, and the Ontario building code. The building specifications must serve as a standard by which the University of Waterloo can insure sustainable development. This will illustrate that the University is a model of sustainability, and can appropriately assume the title of an institution for higher education.

8.3.2 Suggested Changes to the Current Building Specifications

The following examples are intended to illustrate the fact that the University of Waterloo would benefit immensely from a consistently updated set of building specifications. This could be done bi-annually and would result in maximizing the efficiency of UW construction projects. The principles outlined in the General Recommendations section should be seen as a guideline to the process of updating the building specifications. These principles prioritize the concepts of sustainable development, (see definition thereof), by specifying guidelines such as energy efficiency, resource conservation, and cost-benefit analysis.

8.3.3 Methodology for proposed changes to be made to the building specifications:

The following examples have been formatted to the same format that appears in the original boiler plate Building Specifications binder located in Plant Operations (see Appendix 1000). The sections that are italicized represent examples of areas we believe could be updated to allow for maximum energy efficiency, improved resource conservation, and greater value. An explanation of the research and a brief outline of the cost-benefit analysis are included to support these potential changes.












9.3.4 Examples of ‘Greener’ Building Specifications

Example#1: Changes to be made to:

*************Division 1----------General Requirements

*************Section 01200-----General Work Architectural

*************Reduction of Excess Packaging

Reduction of Excess Packaging

The Contractor will stipulate to it’s suppliers that excess, unnecessary packaging will not be accepted for any University of Waterloo construction project including renovations, upgrading or new projects. Any materials that violate this requirement will not be accepted and will subsequently be sent back to the supplier at the expense of the contractor.


A new sub-set, Reduction of Excess Packaging, needs to be added to General Work Architectural section. The University of Waterloo currently reduces their waste packaging by not accepting deliveries that include the use of excess packaging. One example is that they only accept cans of paint without the excess packaging that usually comes with larger orders of paint (Dennis Huber, personal communication, February 10th, 2000). This unwritten policy, where the University places restrictions on the manufacturers and suppliers, challenges the traditional demand structure by influencing and subsequently reducing the need for packaging (James Kay, personal communication, Oct.1st-Nov. 15th).







Example #2: Proposed changes to be made to:


*************Division 2---------Site Work

*************Section 02510----Paving


*************Materials and Equipment

Roads and Parking Lots---Granular Base

Road and parking lot construction shall be carried out as per standard updated drawing OS/S-9, including 250mm recycled granular "B" material (compacted depth) and 100mm Granular "A" recycled material (compacted depth), as specified by the MTO regulations.


The construction industry has recently made a number of improvements to reduce the demand of virgin resources being used in the Paving process. When certain paved areas are replaced with new material, the old asphalt is brought back to the production plant so that it can be broken down and combined with Granular "A" gravel, to produce a Granular "A" recycled gravel. The Granular "A" gravel is recognized as an excellent base for roads and parking lots due to the fact that it provides a much harder base, after compaction, than the virgin Granular "A" material, (Keith Koopman, personal communication, C & V Paving ltd. business owner).

We suggest that the University of Waterloo specify the use of granular recycled gravel for all parking lot and road construction projects. This material is both less expensive than the virgin Granular "A" gravel, and provides a stronger base due to the binding capacity of the recycled asphalt.


Cost benefit analysis:

Virgin Granular "A" Gravel: $6.50per/tonne*

Recycled Granular "A" Gravel: $6.00per/tonne*

*These are average prices that are subject to the fluctuating price levels and the local availability of aggregate material.

The cost benefit analysis indicates that the University would benefit from making a policy which required the use of ‘Granular "A" Recycled Gravel’ as the Granular "A" component of the base. This section illustrates again that the University must update the building specifications in order to consistently maximize the value that can be obtained from continuous improvements in the construction industry.


Example #3: Proposed changes to be made to:


*************Division 8---------Doors, Windows and Glass

*************Section 08810----Glass and Glazing



Insulating glass Units

Composed of an innerpane and outerpane glass factory sealed and separated by a gas pressured dehydrated air space and complying with CGSB Specification CAN2-12.8-M76.

-Windows shall be a Double Pane Low-e argon squared, or approved equal.

Composed of an innerpane and outerpane glass factory sealed and separated by a gas pressured dehydrated air space and complying with CGSB Specification CAN2-12.8-M76.

-Windows shall be a Double Pane Low-e argon, or approved equal. (Jennifer Holdner, personal communication, Mar. 11th/00).



The University of Waterloo has begun to use the Low-e argon windows as a means of conserving energy on campus. We suggest that this unwritten policy be incorporated into the building specifications as demonstrated above. The University must replace any insulating glass units that are damaged or no longer in working condition with the system outlined above and it must be the standard for all new buildings. In doing so the University will ensure maximum energy efficiency and value.

Cost benefit analysis:

-Double-pained argon filled insulating glass units: $24-26sq/ft

a) Low-e for East facing windows: $2.00sq/ft

b) Low-e squared for South and West facing windows: $2.50sq/ft

The above example illustrates that the above system will save the University of Waterloo on both initial capital costs and water conservation.


Example #4: Changes to be made to:

*************Division 15--------Mechanical

*************Section 01510----General Instructions

*************Electrical: Lighting


A new set of sub-sets specific to lighting needs to be included in the General Instructions Section of the Mechanical Division of the boiler plate Building Specifications. Many of the issues requiring updating have already been written in the Building Brief for the CESE building. Sub-sets I: Illumination Levels and II: Lighting Fixtures are exerts from this Building Brief that could be easily incorporated into the Building Specifications. An entirely new sub-set needs to be included in the boiler plate Building specifications in order to address structural problems that influence the behaviors of lighting users in a negative fashion. Sub-set III: Structural lighting features that encourage Energy Conservation, is aimed at encouraging the minimum consumption of energy through lighting at the university. An End of Class Switch (master switch), which turns off the power to all area specific lighting in the room, currently exists in some lecture halls across the campus. These switches make turning off all lights at the end of a lecture a quick, simple task for professors. The master switch will be located in one central, easily accessible location. Area Specific Lighting needs to be available in all office spaces and applicable classroom facilities. A switch at each area allows the minimum amount of lighting to be used. These single room/specific area switches do not replace the larger area’s master switch. Both types of lighting are needed in order to provide the user-friendliest lighting for staff, faculty and students.


Subset I: Illumination Levels


Use the following illumination levels for listed areas. For areas not included, use illumination levels currently recommended by standards of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES).

For example:

Recommended lighting Levels


Illumination Level (foot candles)







Lecture room


a) Audience


b) Demonstration


Exert from Building Brief for CESE, 1995, page 25-26


Subset II: Lighting Fixtures



(Exert from Building Brief for CESE, 1995, page 28)


Subset III: Structural lighting features that encourage Energy Conservation


All lecture halls, auditoriums and applicable classrooms must fulfill two lighting requirements. The first requirement is to provide an End of Class switch, one switch that turns off all lighting in the room. Making the lighting switch user friendly encourages users to turn off lights when they leave the room. The second requirement is the implementation of area specific lighting. The lighting system must be designed to ensure the least amount of lighting required will be used. This concept will replace the general area length switches that control a large number of working areas.


Example #5: Proposed changes to be made to:


*************Division 15------------Mechanical

*************Section 15400----Plumbing and Drainage Systems


*************Plumbing fixtures

Water Closets–Flush Tank

To be vitreous china, siphon jet, whirlpool action, six litres per flush, closed-coupled closet combination with elongated bowl, bolt caps, lined tank and flapper type flush valve.


The University of Waterloo has begun to use six-liter flush toilets for the flush tank system on campus. We suggest that this unwritten policy be incorporated into the building specifications as demonstrated above. The University must replace any toilets that are no longer in working condition with the six-liter flush system and must be the standard for all new buildings.

Cost benefit analysis:

American Standard-Cadet 3’ two piece toilet, thirteen litres per flush: $200.00

American Standard-Plebe: siphon jet, six litres per flush: $186.00

(Sales Representative, 2000, Total Bath and Plumbing Center, 894-1888, Kitchener).

The above example illustrates that the six litre flush toilet will save the University of Waterloo on both initial capitol costs and water conservation.

Water Closets--Flush Valves

Flush valve water closets shall be vitreous china, blow-out, six litre per flush, wall-hung bowl with elongated rim and 38 mm top spud. Flush valve to be C.P. cast brass, quiet action model, with vacuum breaker. Seats to be rubber laminated wood core, black open front, less cover, with hinges. Provide china belt caps. Provide chair carrier for each water closet.


The majority of toilets on campus are part of a flush valve system. In this system the University of Waterloo has also begun to install the six-liter flush valve toilet, as opposed to the twenty-litre flush valve toilet. We suggest that this unwritten policy be incorporated into the building specifications as demonstrated above. The University must replace any toilets that are no longer in working condition with the six-liter flush system and it must be the standard for all new buildings. The current minimum flush available is six litres given the latest technology. If in the future a smaller litre toilet is developed and is of comparable quality, the specifications should be updated to mandate their use.

Cost benefit Analysis:

American Standard Madera, model #2221.018: thirteen litre elongated, wall-hung, white, 10 inch round, 38 mm top spud: $170.00

American Standard Madera, model #2234.015: six litre elongated, wall-hung, white, 10 inch round, 38 mm top spud: $200.00

(Peter Gebauer, Desco plumbing and Heating Inc., Cambridge, personal communication, March 13, 2000)

Cost of water for the University of Waterloo: $1.40/m3 or $1.40/1000 litres

Use of water/1000 flush: six litre toilet: 6 X $1.40/1000 litres = $ 8.40/1000 flushes

Thirteen litre toilet: 13 X $1.40 /1000 litres = $18.20/1000 flushes

Savings for the University = $ 9. 80/1000 flushes

The above example illustrates that the six litre flush toilet will save the University of Waterloo $9.80/1000 flushes in water conservation if they convert to the six litre flush system. It must be noted that this does not include the difference of $30.00/toilet in capitol cost to purchase the six-litre toilet opposed to the thirteen-litre toilet. The capitol investment is recovered after 3061 flushes/toilet, which falls easily within the five-year return on investment goal. The conservation of water helps the university move towards becoming a sustainable institution, especially given the rising local and global water crisis.


Example #6: Proposed changes to be made to:


*************Division 15------------Mechanical

*************Section 15800----Air Distribution


*************Air Handling Equipment

Fan Drives:

Variable speed fan drives shall be the standard for all new buildings and shall be substituted for all existing fan drives that need to be replaced.



The University of Waterloo has an unwritten policy that follows the above requirement. This policy saves the University of Waterloo in energy costs over the life span of the fan drive and is therefore a valuable investment that should be incorporated into the building specifications so as to encourage continuity in UW building policy, (Dave Churchill, personal communication).

Cost benefit analysis:

The University of Waterloo has studied the value of such a policy already, and has determined it is cost effective.

8.3.5 Additional Recommendation for Building Specifications

It is insufficient for the University of Waterloo to design new buildings and conduct repairs purely under the guidelines provided by the ASHRAE 90.1, and the Ontario building code. The building specifications must serve as a standard by which the University of Waterloo can insure sustainable development. This will illustrate that the University is a model of sustainability, and can appropriately assume the title of an institution for higher education.

8.4 General Requirements for Building Specifications

Much of the information and examples given in this section are identical and intentionally overlap with many of the guidelines and recommendations suggested in the Green Building Policy section 9.2. This is done intentionally to ensure that the University will not be given the opportunity to side-step policies that are intended to make the University a more responsible consumer in an otherwise over-consumptive and short-term visioned society.

The following are examples of requirements that the University should follow in the by-annual process of updating the ‘Building Specifications’. They should be placed in the beginning of the boiler plate Building Specifications as part of the General Requirements section.

  1. The University of Waterloo must follow the proper procedure by using the Building Specifications in the process of designing, constructing, or repairing any on campus building. Contractors must be provided with the relevant building specifications to ensure that the University receives the best quality work, while keeping up to standard with the latest technological improvements in energy efficiency, resource conservation, and value.
  2. The University of Waterloo must follow the guidelines set out in the General Requirements section of the Building Specifications in the process of updating the Building Specifications.
  3. The University of Waterloo must update their building specifications bi-annually, so as to keep up to standard with the latest technological improvements in energy efficiency, resource conservation, and value.
  4. The University should ensure that environmentally responsible purchasing practices are followed. Examples of this would include environmental criteria such as toxicity and safety, durability, use of recycled products and non-hazardous chemicals and materials, and reduced energy and water consumption in procurement decisions.

5. Buildings should be designed to ensure that quality of life is taken into consideration.

The Environmental Protection Agency has declared poor indoor air quality a major

National health concern, lending urgency to efforts to redesign campus buildings

(Envirocitizen, 2000).

Many buildings on campus have not been designed to accommodate to living

plants that act as air filters.

8.5 Additional Recommendations

The Plant Operations should stay updated on product information and manufactures to ensure high quality and environmental standards. One idea is to submit to the American Institute of Architects’ - Environment Resource Guide, a publication that lists materials and current environmental implications, as well as outlines building design issues.

We feel that it would be beneficial to have a co-op position in Plant Operations specifically designated to greening the current building standards and compiling them into format that is easily accessible and updated with ease. Not only would this provide an excellent learning opportunity for a student but also alleviate pressure from current employees and ensure that this very important task is completed.

The ultimate goal for the university to commit itself to building a green building as a symbol of sustainability and as an important learning tool for the students, staff, and faculty. We feel that a green building would be very beneficial to the Engineering and Environmental Studies departments.

  1. Summary of Recommendations

The following is a brief summary of the recommendations that have resulted from the collaborated research.

  1. Building Specifications
    1. Update them by-annually in order to incorporate advanced technologies, concepts and priorities.
    2. Create a student co-op position that would be in charge of researching current technologies and updating the specifications to achieve the University’s environmental sustainability goals.
    3. Have the updated form of specifications be readily available on a database format with the connection to hyperlinks to relating critical resource sources.
  2. Green Building Policy
    1. Create a Green Building Policy that addresses fundamental issues regarding green building design and construction.
    2. Announce the University’s Green Building Policy to the community at large and try to create healthy working relationships with those with vested interests.
  3. Create a Green Building
    1. Prove to the realm of Academia, industry and to society that the University of Waterloo is committed to improving its goals of sustainability by creating a completely environmental sound and stable building.


  1. Final Remarks

This project was intended to enhance the university’s vision of sustainability by allowing for greener construction practices on campus. We encouraged this through the examples of comprehensive building policies. Specifically "greener building construction" as we have mentioned earlier in this report refers to reducing the waste, water and energy used in constructing buildings on campus. In addition, greener buildings would be those buildings that over the long term would use less waste, water and energy and would serve as learning tools for the students, staff, faculty and as well as the local and global communities. It must be remembered that each small step taken towards sustainability is critical.

We feel are policies and standards are flexible, yet detailed when necessary to ensure that the stages of design and construction that each new building must go through, will automatically encourage greener building practice, and further the agenda of a sustainable on-campus community.

Implementation is a key element to all of our recommendations. Guidelines detailing how the recommendations are going to be used need to be established to ensure that these positive initiatives are continued at the university.

The University of Waterloo plays a very important role as an institute of Academia and of a place of new ideas and research. We feel that the university needs to take more responsibility to the local and global communities and act as an example of sustainability. Decisions made at the university level really have an impact on what happens within the community, industry, and globally.

We feel that if the recommendations that we have made as well as recommendations of other Greening the Campus projects are implemented, the University of Waterloo will be seen as institution that recognizes the importance of facing environmental problems pro-actively and as a contributor to the overall sustainability of the planet.


























11.0 References

Ahlberg, S., Fitzgerald C., Fraser A., Leetham, K. Energy and the ESE Building.

WATgreen project 1995. Online: February 16, 2000.

Bater. University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Department of

Geography, Lecture Notes: GEOG 101. January 14 - April 20, 1999.

Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg Ltd. University of Waterloo Master Plan: Campus

Master Plan: Framework for Development. Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg Ltd. Toronto, Ontario. July 1992.

Dupius, O. The Green Housing Effect. Alternatives, Journal 26:1. Winter, 2000.

Environcitizen, February 23, 2000. Blueprint for a Sustainable Campus. Online: March 5, 2000.

Mountain Equipment Co-operative Organization, March 4, 2000. MEC. Online: March 3, 2000.

Northland College, March 3, 2000. Northland College. Online: January 8, 2000.

Palys, Ted. Research Decisions. Toronto: Harcourt Brace, 1997.

WATgreen, March 1, 2000. WATgreen. Online: January 15, 2000.

Wismer, personal communication. January 25, 2000.









  1. Further Reading and Resources

This section includes helpful information from various sources pertaining to green buildings that we have reviewed and feel that the University of Waterloo will be able to

Oberlin College, Oberlin Ohio The Adam Joseph Lewis Centre for Environmental Studies, 2000

Oberlin College has recently constructed a state of the art building that incorporates many innovative environmentally responsible techniques, which this site details thoroughly. This site is relevant as it overviews a project that has been done using environmentally sensitivity technologies at a University level comparable to the University of Waterloo.

Blueprint for a Green Campus, Centre for Environmental Citizenship,1995

The Blueprint for a Green Campus is a helpful guide that discusses varies ideas for how sustainability practices can be incorporated into building policies.


Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, 1999.

ULSF helps to build and strengthen institutional capacity to develop ecologically sound policies and practices, and to make sustainability a major focus of academic disciplines, research initiatives, operations systems, and outreach efforts of higher-education institutions worldwide. The information found within the site is extensive and includes an environmental policy data bank offering suggestions of what other campuses around the world have done. Also there is interesting "tools" for decision-makers to use to help implement new policies. As well there is an extensive list of relevant links regarding green policies.

Campus Ecology, National Wildlife Federation, 1999

The focus of this organization is to provide college and university campuses with the necessary tools to help ‘green’ them. There is an extensive list of other websites that are also very helpful. Another helpful aspect of this site is that there are direct links to campuses that are enrolled in Campus Ecology.




US Green Building Council, 1999

The US Green Building Council is the building industry's only balanced, nonprofit, consensus coalition promoting the understanding, development, and accelerated implementation of "Green Building" policies, programs, technologies, standards and design practices. This site is useful as one can see what green policies are accepted in the American building industry.

Green Building Information Centre, Green Building Information Council, 1999

Green Building Information Council is a Canadian non-profit organization whose mission is to disseminate information about energy and environmental issues in the building sector. This is a very informative website as there is an "advanced technologies guide" which is a source for architects, contractors, and engineers, to get construction and policy information.

Filho, Walter (ed.). Sustainability and University Life. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1999.

Prepared in cooperation with University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF), this book presents a number of case studies and analyses illustrating how colleges and universities are pursuing sustainability.

Keniry, Julian. Ecodemia. Washington D.C.: National Wildlife Federation, 1995.

Ecodemia contains a detailed report of environmental responsibility as envisioned and practiced by colleges and universities nationwide. The author provides case studies and individual profiles of administrators, staff, faculty and students and the role of each in attaining sustainability.

National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Green guide: a users guide to sustainable development for Canadian colleges. Ottawa: NRTEE, 1992.

The Green Guide provides an overview of steps involved in creating an environmentally sustainable college. It focuses on the principles, strategies, and goals, which underlie such an endeavor. It draws upon case studies from colleges in Canada, which will be very helpful, as there are few examples from Canada.


Big Green Discussion Group


This is a great way for University decision-makers to keep up to date on what is going on as they can sign up to be a part of the Big Green Discussion Group and find out the latest on green building initiatives in industry.

Mountain Equipment Co-op

This mountain equipment co-op link provides extensive information on various good resources relating to green building technology. Most interestingly, it provides a link and contact for the Environmental Building Newsletter where additional useful information on building green on a budget can be found.

Ecodesign Inc.

This site gives a nice breakdown on various construction materials/products that are used in building construction. It highlights in an easy to read chart, the positives and negatives of various products and provides examples of environmentally friendly alternatives.


Office of Energy Efficiency, Department of Natural Resources

This site gives extensive information about the Canadian governments Commercial Building Initiatives Program with examples of case studies of buildings that have been constructed using green technology. The standards for building green outlined by this site are relatively low however; they are still examples of initiatives that go beyond our current Canadian building standards.








Appendix A

Systems Diagram

Sorry not available at this time













Appendix B

Working Overview of Project

The following chart provides a working overview of the areas researched within our study:

Area of Investigation

Information needed

Data Collection Procedure

1. Current university policies relating to building construction.

What university policies relate to building construction.

How can the policies be more flexible and/or detailed so as to promote greener alternatives.

Research University Master Plan.

Interviews with plant operations staff.

Research possibility of green inspection initiative through interview with Patti Cook and WATgreen committee members.

2. Past WATgreen and university initiatives for greening construction of buildings.

WATgreen projects that have dealt with greening construction of buildings on campus.

Are there any policies such as the ASHRAE/ISE 90.1 that currently dictate how buildings on campus are built, specifically with regards to greener construction?

Research past WATgreen projects.

Interviews with Patti Cook and WATgreen committee.

3. Local green building initiatives.

Who in the community has taken construction initiatives that prioritize sustainable development?

What can the university learn from these people, specifically about issues relating to buying locally made materials and other issues specific to this region?

Interviews with Jeff Savitz, local designer and builder in K-W region.

Interviews with Scott Myer, local designer and builder in K-W region.

4. Green buildings at other universities.

What initiatives have been taken at other universities to build greener buildings?

How can these examples serve to influence UW policy changes.

Case studies and research conducted at other universities.

5. Green building policies at other universities.

What initiatives have been taken at other universities to revise existing policies in an effort to encourage greener building construction?

Case studies and research conducted at other universities regarding building construction policies.















Appendix C

Example Building Specification























Appendix D

Raw Data: Interviews

















***Bolded phrases indicate critical key points that we feel are important to the project analysis.***


Name: Jeff Zavitz

Title: Owner of local construction and design firm that has a green philosophy towards

their work and lifestyles.

Date: Jan. 29, 2000

Key Points

-The last building that they constructed in downtown Waterloo only had two dumpsters full of waste because they designed the building with conserving resources this in mind.

-Part of the problem with University is that they have different people designing and constructing the buildings and there is not enough communication between the two of them.

-Buying local saves energy and supports the community. Decision- makers at University should be able to look first at buying locally made materials to save energy and it is cost effective.

-University should be an example of going beyond, being adventurous, experimenting.

-The University says 5-8 years for investment pay-backs. This policy should be changed because large commitments of money to build a new building mean that the institution is an investment and needs to be seen in terms of how long it will be around for. If the life-span of a building is 100 years then the paybacks could go on throughout the entire life of the building. Need to have a long-term payback system.

-Most of the green building materials are difficult to identify and track because they get thrown into the pot and are not left separate and labeled as green.

-Pilot projects have to be tested and this process is extremely expensive and time consuming. (If it has not already been tried it is expensive to be the first because of initial investment for time and money for approval process.)



Name: Denis Huber

Title: Assistant Provost General Services and Finance (Accountant)

Date: February 10, 2000

Key Points

-Said we should interview Christine Chang, Federation of Students Representative and is on the Building Design Committee.

-Try to follow Best Management Practices meaning the newest, most well loved and tested technology.

-Quality of space versus quantity of space. Often quantity is presumed as very important within the budget.

-Average age of buildings is 42 years old. 1967 is when most of the buildings were built.

-Davis Center, very energy efficient, built in 1987.

-Stakeholders must have input. The budget for new buildings is not from tuition but are rather purchased through government funding (70% to 80%) and fundraising pays for the rest (20% to 30%).

-Five year Return on Investment general policy for University of Waterloo.

-Office Development Alumni Affairs do the fundraising for new buildings.

-The Centre for Environment in Technology, government pulled funding on it and it was a pretty green building draft.

-Government has not payed for University buildings since the 1980’s.

-The key factors that are taken into consideration when creating building standards are the establishment of need, population, costs, stakeholders-different faculties, staff and students.

-There needs to be lower prices for green building practices for them to become more widely used and implemented more frequently in University building/renovating.

-Floor covering is an area that could be greened because it is one of the more discrete things within a building. This is currently not written into the University specifications.

-All University specifications are voluntary.

-The University leaves the choice of specific materials up to the architects, as they are the professionals on the subject.

-Bottom line is there is not enough money for everything.

-June 1999 Federal law obstructs the University from buying regionally. It is now illegal to give geographic preference when bidding for projects over $100,000.00.

The University must publicly tender each building proposition and must take the lowest price. (An example of free trade policies marginalizing the environment- comment from Karina).

-Specifications exist to ensure basic workmanship, how contractor conducts himself.

-We should write stuff that is achievable but not too prescriptive or else it will just be ignored.




Name: Dave Churchill

Title: Director of Technical Services

Date: February 18, 2000

Key Points

-The university acts responsibly with regards to greening initiatives but is not necessarily a showcase.

-The priorities for building design are established by adhering first to building health and safety standards, creating accessibility for the building users, flexibility (adapting to new technology, life cycle cost of building, many stakeholders needs).

-The process entails: a) establishing a need, b) Senior Executive Council decides on relative priorities, c) funding, d) the new building committee goes through project room by room-needs assessment for each.

-The university needs to be environmentally responsible.

-Must be cost effective.


-Economic barriers are the main ones- trade offs, photovoltaic vs. something else.

-Possibly borrow from a bank if ROI is within a certain number of years

-Current project fish labs, potential for ES involvement.

-University has made a lot of improvements in energy conservation on campus.

-Specifications cannot be geographical in nature. Any bid over $100,000 now has to be opened to all of Canada.

-There is a lot of room for improvement in our written policy.

-A lot of the practices (retrofitting of light) at the University are not consistent throughout the buildings and are not written down for others to follow in the future.

-We should go through current university specifications and create green specifications. Indicate where the university can make improvements.




Name: Gene Starchuk

Title: Director of Business Services

Date: February 18, 2000

Key Points

-The University has done a good job of reducing energy consumption.

-They do projects based on getting the biggest bang for their buck.

-They are working to the limits of the technology and are doing quite well keeping up.

-There is room for improvement on the behavioral side.

-The University gets $360,000 for operating and renovating buildings.

-2.7 million a year from the Ministry of Education

-They have gotten a $1.8 million guarantee for the next eight years.

-This renovation money is only available for academic buildings.

-Because of costs and cutbacks, vacancies for jobs are not filled. Rather the money that was used for salaries is now used for materials.

-There have been many complaints around issued of comfort.


Name: Daniel Shipp

Title: Project Coordinator for Village 1 Residence and Campus Centre

Date: March 2, 2000.


Key Points

-Two years ago Mr. Shipp finished working for the University. For a few years he worked at UW on the Village 1 renovation project and the Campus Centre renovation project. The renovation project of the Campus Centre cost over 5 million.

-He was trying to push the concept of a green residence. He ended up creating an entire file worth of information that would have been of use to us and this project. It is a good example of why having the University actually document green building initiatives in a systematic fashion would be of benefit.

-He will send us some information on some Canadian and U.S initiatives, a book on campus ecology.

-Told us about a documentary on CBC about the MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) stores that are popping up all over Canada. The one in Ottawa is just under construction now and they are doing great things in green building. They took an old Loblaws store and are reusing wood beams and are using innovative new insulation techniques.

-It has always been assumed that it is cheaper to demolish an entire building than to recapture and reuse material from previous existing structures but MEC is proving that it is cost effective to do reuse materials after all.

-The University could green the central power operation by adding solar panels on campus. theyare not because they don’t have the experience or the will to go this far even though industry and companies continually prove that it is feasible and economically viable.

-Mr. Shipp was able to have a sustainable product initiative written into the document put out for contract bidding that specified that each tender had to solicit a bid from a sustainable product firm when purchasing materials.

-Food services is a big component, we could have buildings built that install composting facilities right into the food services areas.

-The architects write the specifications, they are often more knowledgeable about new industry initiatives than other UW staff.

-The most important issue is that the University is not making environmental initiatives enough of a priority. A green building would be cost effective if the University changed its definition of what cost effectiveness means. For example, their policy on Return On Investment could be more long term to reflect savings over a longer period of time and a long term strategy and plan for the University.




Name: Dan Parent

Title: University of Waterloo, Architect

Date: March 3, 2000

(second interview)

Key Points

- Green specifications are not the way to go because the University specifications are not used. He said that the specifications used to be used but now they just get the architects who are designing the new buildings to design their own specifications with instructions from Plant Operations and based solely on the Ontario Building Standards and ASHRAY.

- Mr. Parent suggested that the Building Brief, a document created by Plant Operations that is made for each building would be a better place to put a green policy into.




Name: Dave Churchill

Title: Director of Technical Services

Date: March 3, 2000

E-mail correspondence

(In response to our concern that building specifications would not be a good place to achieve change after second interview with Mr. Parent.)

Key Points

-Yes, the University staff may have slipped into letting the consultants use their own specifications and have let the Universities get out of date.

-This is the path of least resistance.

-This may be the reason why the University doesn’t get the design or equipment selection they had expected which is a headache for maintenance.

-Mr. Churchill will insist that the University will issue its standards at the start of each project from now on.

-Mr. Churchill assured us that our efforts would not be wasted if we continued our original goal to look at greening specifications.





Name: Brian Staszenski

Title: Director of Destination Conservation; a waste, water, and energy conservation program in primary and secondary schools.

Date: March 7, 2000

Key Points

- The Return On Investment (ROI) of primary and secondary schools is generally very inconsistent but this program has taught them to see why your ROI should be longer in terms of being able to reap benefits from environmental initiatives.

-We try to encourage between ten and twenty year ROI depending on the institution.

-Part of our program is just demonstrating to institutions how it is cost effective to spend more money on conservation techniques as an initial capital investment because of the long term pay back is most often then not larger than the initial investment made.

-Not only is environmental initiatives done at the educational institution level important as an example to the rest of our communities but it is also a thrifty business choice.

-Schools across Canada are making miles in establishing partnerships with corporations looking for opportunities to be conscious corporate citizens and love to help fund green building projects.




Name: Steve Lefneski

Title: Walter Fedy Partnership Architect, designed Village 3 residence to be constructed starting in May, 2000.

Date: March 11, 2000.

Key Points

-All buildings are now greener because of codes like Ashray 90.1 and Performance Standards.

-Green wasn’t a priority for the new Residence building.

-When constructing a building choosing between good and bad building material, design, etc. can be difficult, the difference in capital investment can be extreme. (eg. Insulation, buying less environmentally friendly insulation can be $45000 more expensive.)

-Issue very complex, what is green? and what is green enough? (Eg. life cycle cost, embedded energy, recycled(able), etc.. Kraus Carpets has a ten year recycle policy, if the carpets last ten years. They will take it back and recycle the nylon fibers into a new carpet or piping or something like that, but nylon is a synthetic, fossil fuel based product, and the recycling program is only good if the carpet is actually recycled and if Kraus is around in ten years.

-Architects will research a building without a fee (good business) - and if green is specified they will try to find the most economical, most efficient, etc... (whatever is specified) before they are even hired.

-Students are seen by the University as UW clients, as such it is GOOD BUSINESS to satisfy our concerns - if we (the students) pressure for green initiatives then that will be reflected in UW building policy.

-Have to remember maintenance costs, specific technology can have a higher maintenance cost that has to be accounted for.

-Architectural firm can make critical decisions without consulting UW. Eg. selecting a boiler that will return cost within 3-5 yrs. The architects can also choose slightly greener products when they are similar in cost to conventional products.

-Architectural firms use their own building specs.

-Specs only really used to regulate sub-contractors. eg. get a price quoted, set certain quality guidelines, etc. To control the situation.

*** AIA (American Institute of Architects) - Environment Resource Guide.

-A book that lists materials and current environmental implications,

-outlines building design issues, and general do’s and don’ts.

-Making Building Specs Greener would be very difficult.

-Mr. Lefneski was not familiar with the Building Brief which was the document Dan Parent had told us would be the most effective place to insert a green building policy statement.

-Should work on creating a policy - perhaps a book like AIA?

*** Suggestion that we computerize Specs, create Hyper Text links to environmental issues, references, manufacturers, etc.

Include a new section (Spec notes, -which can outline problems and alternatives for the next time specs are used to create a building.)

Sometimes we just need to prioritize green. Allocate capitol for that purpose and ignore ROI. Need Public Pressure for this sort of priority shift.

Audits are very important. Recommendation: write a basic policy, put it on the shelf with other specifications and then in 5 - 10 yrs, assess the impact of the policy on university performance.



Name: Paul Parker

Title: Professor & Energy Expert

Date: February 19th 2000

Key Points:

-The problem is environmental concerns versus comfort.

-The systems often have to be designed for the worst case scenario (ie., very cold/hot weather). The other option is slight discomfort but a more environmentally sensitive system.

-We could save more energy by task lighting rather than generic lighting. (ie., switches that light three ways, user friendly switches, end of class buttons, can we minimize hallway lighting?)

-All the university systems are built on maximum capacity.

-To encourage the current system to change we must use education.