Centennial College opens LEED Gold, zero carbon, mass timber building
by CM staff
A solar photovoltaic panel array on the roof will generate enough electricity to offset the facility's electricity use by 68,000 kilowatt hours annually.
TORONTO — Centennial College is opening the doors to its A-Building ─ Canada’s first LEED Gold, zero carbon, mass timber, higher-education building. A-Building, formerly known as A-Block, establishes a new gateway to Centennial’s flagship Progress Campus in Scarborough that supports Indigenous ways of being and teaching.
An Indigenous Working Group made contributions to Indigenous elements of the build as the College worked with Colliers Project Leaders, EllisDon Construction, DIALOG and Smoke Architecture to deliver the approximately $112-million project.
Spanning six storeys over 130,000 square feet, the expansion was accompanied by a 15,000-square-foot renovation.
Students, staff and faculty arriving on campus for the fall semester have been welcomed into an inclusively and sustainably designed building guided by the Indigenous concept of ‘two-eyed seeing,’ or viewing the world through the lens of both Indigenous and Western knowledge.
“At a time of increasing climate calamity, Centennial is eager to deepen its commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Dr. Craig Stephenson, President and CEO of Centennial College. “Acknowledging the relationship between sustainability, Indigeneity and inclusivity was essential to creating a welcoming new gateway to Centennial’s flagship campus. Intended to serve as a beacon of hope and a force for good, this new build embodies the journey we’ve all been on, and are still on, as individuals and as a college community, to fully recognize our Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation.”
Indigenous ways of being and teaching are at the heart of A-Building, which is also home to administrative offices, collaborative areas, food services and space for the School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science. An interior courtyard serves as an outdoor classroom allowing teaching in a circle formation, among other flexible classrooms, while 13 rooms equipped with special exhaust fans make it possible for smudging to occur.
“This building is a living teaching tool. Indigenous students, staff and faculty will now have a place on the Progress Campus to gather and practice traditions. People from around the globe have a place to learn more about Indigenous worldviews, ceremonies and teachings,” said Seán Kinsella, Director, the Eighth Fire, at Centennial College. “Treaty is reflected in this building not just in the representation of the Covenant Chain, or of the Beaver Bowl/Dish with One Spoon, but also in the ways so many parts of the building were constructed to embody the coming together of all people.”
Black Spruce from Chibougamau, Quebec, figures prominently in the mass timber structure of the A-Building, with generous wood exposures showcased through its cross- and glue-laminated columns, beams and floor slabs throughout.
“Centennial College’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation was embedded in every aspect of the A-Building’s project process,” said Robert Balicsak, National Higher Education Sector Lead, Colliers Project Leaders. “Chief R. Stacey Laforme’s book Living in the Tall Grass: Poems of Reconciliation served as a touchstone for understanding and inspiration. It was a privilege to help deliver Centennial’s vision for the A-Building. The collaborative process motivated the entire project team to learn more and act differently. This project is special and truly inclusive, while also achieving important sustainability standards.”
A-Building has achieved zero carbon certification thanks in large part to an efficient building envelope, along with electric domestic hot water heating and HVAC systems. A solar photovoltaic panel array on the roof will generate enough electricity to offset the facility’s electricity use by 68,000 kilowatt hours annually, which will contribute to its LEED Gold certification. Floor-to-ceiling windows that let natural light into the space will support its WELL Silver certification.