The Student Union Building (SUB) received its LEED Gold certification plaque in a ceremony hosted January 9 in the building’s atrium, two years after it began its operations, and 10 years since the first brainstorming session for the building’s construction.
LEED is a measuring tool, used to gauge the energy efficiency of a building. Gold certification is the second highest level of efficiency that can be awarded. The certification process requires a new building to be operating for at least a year before it can be assessed, to ensure that the theoretical efficiency matches the actual operating efficiency.
“It’s an incredible achievement,” said Mark Goudsblom, director of campus planning and facilities management at UFV, during the ceremony. “It really means that from now going forward, this is our minimum. Every next building, every next opportunity we have, we are going to raise that bar even further.”
According to Blair McFarlane, energy manager at UFV, despite the harsh conditions last winter, the SUB was found to have reduced its natural gas consumption by 67 per cent compared to other buildings on the UFV campus. Over the last eight years, UFV as a whole has cut its carbon emissions by 72 per cent.
“From a LEED point of view, it’s operating magnificently,” stated Craig Toews, vice president external, later that day.
“I think that’s a clear indication of how green building design can be a key component in combating climate change,” said McFarlane. “I’m proud of the efforts UFV has made, and will continue to make against climate change.”
Planning for the $15 million SUB started back in 2008, and included the vision of three to four student union presidents. Gurvir Gill, the current student union president, recognized the efforts that students have put into achieving the end vision seen today.
“Students are a huge driving force from entering the doors when UFV first opened to even wanting to have a building,” said Gill. “Not only do we have such a great accomplishment now, but this sets the milestones for the future for more awards, and more recognition for the efforts that students have put in.”
The SUB today boasts many unique features to enhance its sustainability. The building has controls that adjust artificial lighting levels, depending on the amount of natural light entering the building.
Piping in the walls is part of a geoexchange system that recycles heat in the building. This innovative system results in the energy efficiency that was seen last winter in the building.
The building also boasts a small green roof, and a natural water retention systems that feeds much of the foliage seen around the building.
Goudsblom believes, though, that one of the most important features of the building is its livability.
“It’s a space that’s used,” said Goudsblom. “You live in it, you spend time in it. When we look ahead, we’ll look at how we can connect all of our spaces and all of our places in such a way that they remain sustainable and energy friendly, but they provide us with what it is we need to remain successful on campus.”
Photo: The Cascade