ANTIGONISH: The director of facilities management at StFX University says they’re beyond happy that Mulroney Hall has finally been given LEED® Gold status.
Leon MacLellan, who is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and cleaning of all the buildings on campus, told The Reporter it was a four-year process to design and construct Mulroney Hall, the state-of-the-art teaching and research complex that opened in the heart of the StFX campus on Sept. 18, 2019.
“It’s a multi-factor evaluation; the focus tends to go to the energy consumption of the building, which is important of course,” MacLellan said. “When we demolished a portion of the building that it sits on, the old Nicholson classroom building, we had an 88 per cent diversion rate from the landfill.”
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; a globally recognized environmental building standard that recognizes exceptional commitment to sustainability in design, construction, and operation.
To achieve LEED Gold, prerequisites and credits are awarded in seven categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation and design process, and regional priorities.
“Right from start of design, when we start a project, before we even hire the architect we submit to the Canadian Green Council that we are going to apply for LEED,” MacLellan said. “I can tell you that being in rural Nova Scotia, there are some criteria we can’t meet, some things LEED would typically promote in an urban area, obviously there are some criteria that doesn’t suit our building but we target the points that we’re going to try to achieve and we set that up right at the beginning.”
He highlighted one of the aspects of the project included a geothermal field on the south side of the building, that combined with a series of heat pumps, keeps the building comfortable year-round and provides significant energy savings.
“I would say LEED is just good design practice. It makes you deal with all of these issues on a continuous way;, it’s a good design guideline for anybody who’s developing a public building particularly,” MacLellan said. “It takes a while for them to review the documentation. They have their own backlog in reviewing these buildings, but we just got notification in the last couple of weeks.”
The director of facilities management suggested it’s a wonderful accomplishment, noting it takes everyone from the grounds keepers to the mechanical technicians to achieve this goal.
“It’s a great feeling to have accomplished it,” MacLellan said. “At StFX, our ultimate goal is to get to zero carbon emissions, and when you look at the rest of campus, we’ve reduced our consumption in the last 10 years by more than 30 per cent.”
He explained they are addressing these issues for the whole campus, not just for one building in particular, and highlighted the campus as a whole has reduced their water consumption for 50 per cent in the past decade.
As a university, MacLellan said they want to be a living lab for their students, they want to be sustainable as an institution in Nova Scotia and in the Antigonish community, and they also want to help their students learn how to be sustainable. He hopes this is the new standard for new buildings for the future.
“It was a great thing to accomplish this goal, but what I see every day is the students are promoting this, the younger generation is always looking forward,” MacLellan added. “And they’re the ones who’re inspiring us to set more ambitious targets for sustainability.”