Mohawk College’s new Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation net-zero building is well under way for a 2018 opening.
According to Chief Building and Facilities Officer Tony Cupido, Mohawk College was fortunate enough to receive a $20 million grant from the federal government to build the new Innovation Centre which will be tied to the E-Wing.
Mohawk College President Ron McKerlie said the Joyce Centre was the next upgrade the campus needed to do in terms of adding more labs and classrooms for technology students.
“Students will be receiving 96,000 square feet of new classrooms and labs,” McKerlie said. “Technology students will have great spaces for learning and working.”
One of the reasons the college chose to do a net-zero building was to “make sure we lived in a sustainable way and that we created an environment that would be good for climate change going forward,” McKerlie said.
“A net-zero building will produce as much power as it will consume,” Cupido said. “We want to ensure that we don’t add to [our carbon] footprint by putting in a new building.”
Certain features make this net-zero possible.
Cupido said: “The windows and the precast insulated panels create a tight environment and make it very efficient, this is so we don’t lose a lot of heat in the winter and gain a lot of heat in the summer. Afterwards, another major feature with our very highly-insulated roof is making for a very efficient building which minimizes the amount of energy we have to produce to operate the building.”
Cupido explained they are also building a geothermal system outside of the I-Wing and there will be 28 wells almost 600 feet underground.
“Those wells in the geothermal system will store heat, produced primarily in the summer, stored in the ground,” Cupido said. “We can extract the warm fluid and bring it into the building [in the winter]. It’s a technique used in many buildings but not in Ontario.”
Solar panels are also being installed around campus “to help facilitate the size of the solar panel array that we need to generate enough power to offset the demand for this new building and that in effect is called the net-zero building,” Cupido said.
The idea is for students to immerse themselves in the new net-zero environment, so “they have the capacity and ability to operate the building themselves in a group for either a day, a month or a year,” Cupido said. “Students can get intimate details how the building actually works, how its impacted by the solar PV [photovoltaic] system and our geothermal systems, how much energy the building uses and what components contribute more energy than others.”
Students will have digital interfaces or apps on their phones “to operate the building’s environmental system on their iPhone’s smartphone app,” McKerlie said. “Students will be checking out how much energy is being used and how much energy is being produced and how to run a cleantech building.”
According to McKerlie, the college is also building a centre for climate change management so students will be able to get involved in that and do research.
“Students of Mohawk College will be well positioned for an improved carbon future in Ontario,” Cupido said.
The net-zero building is expected to be finished by April and ready for Mohawk College students for the summer of 2018.