Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion as an Eco-lab and living laboratory

Rendering of the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion

In the midwinter of 2008, construction of the new Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion (CMLP) began in earnest. Faculty, staff and students watched with great curiosity as the area was cleared, piping was laid down, and then the foundations were poured. A crane was erected on the site in April, and now things are really beginning to take shape.

More than simply being new housing for the Faculty of Engineering, the CMLP building itself is intended to be an Ecolab: a living laboratory where students and the community will be able to explore the latest in environmental technologies as they apply to building development and operations.

The idea of the CMLP as a total learning experience has been in place right from the start, when engineering students were engaged as part of their curriculum to conceptualize and develop viable green buildings on the site where the CMLP is currently being built. When it came time to plan the actual building, these student projects were reviewed in detail by the consultant team led by Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners together with Cornerstone Architecture. Ideas were taken from the student works and incorporated in the plans for the new facility. As well, students involved with the mega-project teams, in conjunction with the Undergraduate Engineering Society, developed the interior design of the undergraduate floor of the building, working with the architects, mechanical and electrical engineers to have a practical and cost-effective facility that will meet their present and future needs for project work, studying and hands-on laboratory/building learning space.

Once completed, the facility will house state-of-the-art laboratories, office space, graduate student learning space, a public atrium, student lounge, undergraduate student space including a machine shop, project design rooms and students team offices and design space. It will also bridge the main Engineering buildings with connections to both the Thompson Engineering Building and the Spencer Engineering Building.

More than this, the CMLP will present a wide variety of learning opportunities for students from all four major engineering disciplines: Civil & Environmental (CEE), Mechanical & Materials (MME), Electrical & Computer (ECE), and Chemical & Biochemical (CBE), as well as for students from programs such as Geography and Biology. In Engineering, the building itself will be a model and experimental component associated with various undergraduate courses.

The building will be equipped with a myriad of sensors and monitoring equipment, so that students can measure dynamic forces happening within the structure. Light fixtures and window design and construction will provide students with lessons on high efficiency lighting and insulation techniques. Sensors embedded in the walls and glazed coatings of windows will allow them to measure internal temperature, moisture and humidity. Other sensors will measure things like air flow around the building, and carbon dioxide levels produced by a given number of people in a particular room.

As a result, the goal is for instructors to be able to demonstrate the practical principles around such topics as cooling/heating loads, air distribution and duct system design, heat recovery and energy efficiency of geothermal heat pumps and energy recovery systems, and the design of geothermal heat exchangers and water solution loops. Even the electrical distribution system will be a visible feature that allows for instruction in the electricity usage, infrastructure and requirements of the building.

Waste products created from everyday use of the building will provide other learning opportunities, through processes designed to optimize waste management and diversion. For example, there is a proposal being put forward to have waste oil and grease collected to make biodiesel for a generator that will be located on the roof. While this is only a proposal at this time, the ideas coming forward are exciting and innovative as faculty are creatively planning ways to use the CMLP in their courses.

In some courses, students may have a particular interest in tracking water usage, and wastewater flow. Or they may wish to measure water quality, or its components. Or they may want to know how much waste is generated in the building, and how much is thrown away vs. being recycled. With some resources set aside to dedicate to making the CMLP an actual living laboratory, plans are underway to provide the means for students to compile as much of this data as possible.

Outside the building, students will be able to study various elements of the external environment, including wind pressures on the building. Strain and deflection gauges will be attached to the bridge across to Thompson Engineering building. Students will be able to monitor the performance of the building’s foundations under loads, and measure stresses in columns and slab rebar and other structural elements.

The roof of the CMLP is particularly unique. A rainwater cistern will collect water for targeted use in the building, for example to water the green wall – an interior wall that will be adorned with plants. The roof will also be a study in alternative energy, through the use of PV arrays and a wind turbine. Students will be able to measure the energy use of the building, and the performances of the alternative energy sources. They will be able to examine precipitation and evaporation from the roof, including snow loads in the winter. In addition, a large section of the roof will be a green roof, where a variety of plants will be grown.

Measuring the speed and direction of the wind, and air temperature on the roof near the wind turbine, as well as the generated voltage and amperage, should be possible. Details like the stress and strain on the blades and poles of the turbine, and erosion and corrosion from the wind will be available for assessment and instruction.

Even the surrounding exterior grounds of the CMLP will offer students a chance to study environmentally-friendly landscaping, through permeable paving and indigenous plant life and gardens. There will be bicycle racks available and there are shower facilities in the building as well as at the nearby Thompson Recreation Centre.

The CMLP is a building optimized for the educational experience, allowing university students, as well as the greater London community, to better understand how their day to day lives and activities impact such things as resource consumption, energy usage and the natural environment. Faculty members will have outstanding facilities to conduct leading edge research, furthering knowledge in areas related to green technologies and process and environment.

Given the present world-wide focus on environmental issues, Western is poised to play a leadership role by developing its first LEED certified facility, one that will have a unique role bridging The University with the community. As a learning tool, Western is both creating awareness of issues and proactively supporting opportunities to develop and improve efforts in the area of green processes and technologies. By passing those lessons on to the next generation, the CMLP will help to shape the attitudes and decision-making capabilities of our future engineers and leaders for many years to come.



Also from this web page:


.: Becky Blue
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
T: 519-850-2917
F: 519-661-3808