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Brock University Plaza Building

The new 5 storey, 86,000 SF Plaza building the latest addition to Brock University’s ever growing campus. The exterior of the building is made up of copper cladding, stone from the Niagara Escarpment and glass.

The campus bookstore is located on the ground floor. The next two floors accommodate offices, computer laboratories, and class and seminar rooms. The top two floors house the research facilities for the Nora Walker Lifespan Development Research Centre (LDRC).

Enrollment at Brock University has increased by 7,500 students (up 76%) since 1999, partially due to the double cohort experienced around that time. This rise in enrollment is one of the highest among Ontario Universities and a reason why Brock is continuing to construct new buildings on campus.

Brock University is committed to supporting their local community. This $20 million project was built by a local contractor. The environmentally-aware planning can be seen throughout the building. The project attained LEED Silver certification.

One of the challenges experienced during construction was working through a mild and wet winter making site access difficult for all parties. Construction also took place while students were in class - so safety was always a high priority.

Precast hollow core slabs were used as the floor and roof system, supported on a structural steel frame. The 62,000 SF of 48 in wide, 10 in deep hollow core slabs were left exposed with the ceilings simply painted, saving additional materials. Precast concrete provided an excellent solution for the new building as the slabs provided an immediate working surface for trades on site and a two hour fire separation in the finished building.

The thermal mass of the hollow core slabs were used to store heat and cold, reducing the overall size requirement of the heating and air conditioning systems. The cores of the slabs were used for the air supply in the ventilating system. The precast hollow core slabs form radiant panels using the concrete’s thermal storage properties This innovative technology uses a reduced quantity of building materials to do the same job better. It reduces the carbon footprint in both the construction and demolition of buildings.

A fan assisted ventilation system pushes treated fresh air through a series of main ducts that are fed into branch ducts formed within the hollow core ceiling and floors slabs. As air passes along the ducts the concrete warms or cools the fresh air before supplying it to the occupied space.

The heat storage capacity of hollow core slabs can be used during both summer and winter conditions. In the winter, surplus heat, generated from body heat, lighting, computers, sun radiation, etc, can be retained overnight, to maintain comfortable internal conditions for the occupants the next day, increasing their temperature by 2-3°C during the day without affecting the comfort of the occupants. In the summer this excess heat is dissipated by cooling the slabs with cool night air.

Thomas Saint-Ivany, associate vice-president facilities management, said “We’ve been able to optimize energy consumption by at least 33 percent better than standard. “We’ve achieved that through the the high thermal efficiency of boilers, high thermal resistance of walls and roofs, and double glazed, argon filled and low-emissivity coated windows.” He added, “The TermoBuild concrete floor deck acts as a heat sink. It retains heat in the winter and helps us cool the building in summer.”

The traditional view is that energy efficiency is good to have in operation but it comes at a price that is payable at the construction stage. More efficient materials and argon-filled double glazing have to cost money. “The premium was two percent on building costs, which we estimate will achieve a return on investment in two years,” said Saint-Ivany.

Reference: "Building a better Brock" by Ruari McCallion
Architects: MacKay –Lyons Sweetapple Architects in association with Rounthwaite Dick & Hadley Architects
Contractor: Merit Contractors Niagara
Structural Engineer: Halsall Engineering Consultants
Mechanical Engineer: Jain Engineering
Thermal Storage/Energy Consultant: TermoBuild Canada
LEED Consultant: Enermodal Engineering Ltd.
Precaster: Coreslab Structures (ONT) Inc.

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