A “Green building”, designed and built with sustainability as its core mission and particularly one that has obtained LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification, is a dream to many of us working on Campus Sustainability. On Thursday February 12, 2016, a group of us, Cindy Elliott (Sustainability Coordinator – Dawson College) Gisela Frias (Geography Department – Dawson College) and Genevieve Aboud (Geography Department – Champlain College) enjoyed a guided visit of John Abbott College’s Anne-Marie Edward Science Building. Our hosts, Josee Lanouette (Sustainability Manager) and Jessica Burpee (Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Certificate), not only gave us a tour of the building but they also generously shared with us some of the challenges and opportunities having a LEED building presents for Campus Sustainability.
The building has been designed to promote sustainability by increasing performance in water and energy efficiency and overall indoor environmental quality. It has a state of the art geothermal heating system, gray water is sustainably treated and recycled for toilet use, the paint, the windows, furniture and all details of the building, have been taken into consideration to decrease the building’s ecological footprint. In addition, landscaping is integral to the structure in maintaining rainfall cache basins for water reuse. The complexity of the design is impressive as is the shift in approach that Abbott exhibited in choosing to build it. This building however, is not just a green building; it houses students, teachers and staff immersed in a process of environmental awareness and action. The building has digital portals that educate those in the building about its features as well as environmental benchmarks achieved. Students and staff have taken it upon themselves to bring plants that clean the air and have organized themselves to water them. There is an ongoing campaign to have the educational community that uses the building become increasingly aware of their actions.
In the context of an educational institution, a LEED building provides an opportunity not only to achieve high environmental standards, but to raise awareness about environmental issues and sustainable practices among the educational community. The building is part of an integrative approach to model and teach sustainability practices and values. While campus operations and facilities management are generally viewed as part of the physical operation of the university, in this case they are an integral part of an experience which supports the sharing of knowledge and development of values for sustainability. Everyone practices stewardship and ownership of this building.
This visit to John Abbott College’s Anne-Marie Edward Science Building was particularly significant as it was an opportunity to exchange valuable ideas between teachers and staff involved in sustainability across three Quebec CEGEPs. It was an opportunity to build our collective knowledge, inspire each other and establish meaningful collaboration around campus sustainability.
By: Gisela Frias (Geography Department -Dawson College)
Cindy Elliot (Sustainability Coordinator -Dawson College)
Genevieve Aboud (Geography Department -Champlain College)