October 26, 2009
Ottawa's Algonquin College breaks ground on Centre for Construction Excellence
New home for trades training, sustainable building education
Ground has been broken for the construction of a building that will not only house construction trades training, but also an applied learning centre for sustainable building.
Robert Gillett, president of Algonquin College, turned the sod recently for the $77-million building that will house all of the college’s construction-related training programs. The facility, he said, “will not only help to address the skills shortage in the construction industry, it will be a showcase for green construction and training in Eastern Ontario.”
Called the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence, the building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011. It will be a 180,000-square-foot structure, and will house about 2,500 student spaces, an increase of about 600 spaces.
The building, designed to achieve the LEED Platinum rating, will also be a showcase and teaching laboratory for best practices in sustainable construction.
Gillett said it will be “the largest building in Canada to meet the exacting standards for LEED Platinum status.”
EllisDon Corporation is the design-build contractor.
ALGONQUIN COLLEGE RENDERING The proposed woodshop training area in the new Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence.
Architects on the project are Diamond + Schmitt Architects Incorporated and Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects Inc.
Michael Leckman, a principal with Diamond + Schmitt, said the building will be an example of “super green” construction.
It will feature a storm-water recovery system to capture rainwater for flushing toilets. Solar panels will provide some power and hot water and serve as a working demonstration of the potential of solar energy. A five-storey-tall “bio-wall” in the building’s atrium will be covered with plants that will help control the indoor environment by controlling humidity and filtering the air.
The building will have R30 insulation in the walls and R50 in the roof. Windows will be triple glazed. Heat pumps will provide heating and cooling.
Much of the roof will be an undulating green garden that will, Leckman said, “add campus greenspace and help with insulation (while) lowering the demands on the heating and cooling systems.”
Algonquin presently runs 19 full-time construction-related programs, and more are being planned. The college also offers 13 evening and weekend programs.
The need is clear. The construction industry’s workforce is aging, and by 2020, about half of existing trades workers are expected to retire.
The Construction Sector Council has estimated that 56,300 new construction workers will be needed to replace those retiring and to sustain the Ontario workforce at its 2006 level. And 17,600 new workers will also be needed by 2016 to fill positions expected to be created through growth in the industry.
There are likely to be labour shortages in the short term, as well. The day before the ground-breaking at Algonquin, some local industry spokespeople had expressed concern over a possible shortage next spring, when the bulk of Ottawa’s stimulus projects get into the ground.
The federal and Ontario governments each contributed $35 million to the project, and the city of Ottawa donated the land, worth $2 million.
In addition, $7 million is being raised by the local construction industry.
That funding drive got a big boost recently when Roger Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Minto Group, made a gift of $1 million. Gillett said it was the largest individual gift in the history of Algonquin College.
Greenberg noted that “education is a cornerstone of a strong community and an integral part of its over-all success.”
“We feel privileged to be able to contribute to development of the skilled and educated workforce of tomorrow.”
A living wall, or “bio-wall” on one side of the building’s atrium will rise five storeys and will help clean the indoor air and control humidity.
This low aerial view shows part of the extensive green roof that will cap much of the building.
Parts of the extensive green roof will be used as park space, an extension of the Algonquin campus. This view shows the undulating nature of the roof.