SLC to be environmentally-friendly, with green roofs, a rainwater plumbing and natural light


The Student Learning Centre is being built to meet a number of building material and energy-saving targets. (Michael Chen/Ryersonian)

Students can look forward to the opening of an environmentally friendly learning space this winter, complete with green roofs, a rainwater plumbing system and lots of natural light.

The Student Learning Centre is being built to meet a number of building material and energy-saving targets. Designers hope the building will achieve a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

LEED works on a points-based systerm on sustainable construction and maintenance. Builders can meet four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

Project architect Mike Smith said he is “pretty confident” the SLC will meet the silver LEED designation.

Smith said SLC architects and partners gave up LEED points to include so much glass in the building’s exterior, but that it was a worthy sacrifice.

“To get to gold, you have to reduce the amount of glass we used in the building,” he said. “Because we’re on a very prominent corner, we wanted to exploit that and to provide those day-lighting advantages over a solid wall, which would be better for energy performance.”

Points are awarded for storm-water management, reduced water consumption, incorporating renewable energy, natural lighting and use of recycled building materials.

On a hard-hat tour of the facility, Michael Forbes, a Ryerson public affairs official, told reporters about the many green features planned for the highly anticipated SLC.

It will have three green roofs: one atop the building, another on the connecting bridge between the current library building and the SLC and one on the west side of the building overlooking Yonge Street.

Apart from looking pretty, the green roofs will catch rainwater, which will be funnelled into a storage container and used to water the green roofs’ plants and flush the building’s toilets, said Forbes.

The rainwater system will also moderate water going back into city sewers, which Forbes said will help the city with storm-water management.

In a 2008 survey, students said there was not enough natural lighting in the current library.

Architects took this into account when they designed the crystal-like frit pattern that decorates the SLC’s facade. It allows natural, diffused light to enter the building while reducing glare on laptops, said Forbes.

The building will save heat and energy. Triple pane glass will keep in heat during the winter and prevent cool air from escaping during the summer.

There are radiant heating units built into the floors and around the windows’ perimeters to keep spaces warm, said Forbes.

High-efficiency fans will further reduce energy use during the day.

Forbes said even noise pollution is being addressed. The building is designed to become quieter as a person ascends the building, with the top floor being the quietest.

Sound-absorbing material is being installed into the ceilings of study spaces and SonaKrete, a special finishing material, is being sprayed on walls to reduce noise inside rooms.

Design and maintenance reports are submitted to the Canada Green Building Council for review on an ongoing basis, and then the council certifies the building accordingly.

The SLC has an expected completion date of December, and will be open to students come February or March of 2015.

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