J URY COMMENT - This LEED Platinum project was particularly strong in its combination of energy performance and architectural quality. The project incorporates several well considered green strategies including green roof and solar shading. The jury also felt that the design team had taken full advantage of the program, a school for a new generation of sustainable construction trades, by making the building itself a powerful educational tool.

The 18,200m2 Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence [ACCE] is designed to address Ontario’s looming shortage of skilled tradespeople, and to train the next generation in sustainable building practices.  In combining trades and design technology learning, ACCE provides ample opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange. The need for informal learning opportunities inspired the terraced seating, study pods, roof amphitheatre and the configuration of the cafe, which serves  as a symbolic bridge between the academic tower and the trades wing.
The design concept for ACCE explicitly embraces nature. Bio-philic concepts support the positive experience of integrating natural systems in the constructed environment. The plazas, garden spaces, undulating green roof, and biofilter wall form a single system of connected outdoor and indoor spaces. Each element is designed to enrich student experience, enhance bio-diversity, use natural processes to reduce storm water run-off, energy consumption and the urban heat island effect - and to cleanse the air.
A 300,000L cistern connected to roof drains captures rainwater for non-potable water requirements and supplies 100% of irrigation needs. High-efficiency fixtures are used throughout the facility. Exterior landscaping is native to minimize irrigation needs.
Air quality is enhanced through the use of a decoupled ventilation system. The ventilation system delivers outdoor air as required to maintain healthy levels of CO2 in each space. The 22 metre high biofilter living wall - a focal point of the atrium - is an active part of the air system, filtering undesirable VOCs and CO2, improving indoor air quality, and reducing HVAC operating costs.
Strategically placed perimeter windows optimize daylight and energy with minimal glazing to control envelope losses. Vertical sunshades that incorporate variations of the College’s green colour scheme reduce glare and solar loads while maintaining appropriate daylight conditions. Circular skylights are distributed over the trade training spaces to provide natural light to internal spaces that traditionally receive very little. The tower includes interior windows in core spaces facing the sky lit atrium.
Heating and cooling are delivered primarily through a hybrid hydronic heat pump system. A make-up air unit with heat recovery serves the independent CO2 sensor-controlled variable air volume 100% outdoor air distribution system. This combination of systems provides efficient and controllable heating, cooling and ventilation.
An important building feature is a high-performance envelope that not only reduces energy costs but also improves occupant comfort. Throughout the design, five energy simulations were produced at key stages. This allowed the team to use energy modelling as a design tool to influence decisions with the integrated design process continuing through design and into construction.
Materials and finishes were selected to limit the impacts on the indoor environment. Only low-emitting wood, carpet, paints, adhesives and sealants are used. To meet the owners building service life requirements, a building envelope specialist was included in the project team who focused on durability throughout the design and performed construction reviews. A life cycle analysis was performed for multiple structural systems at the preliminary design stage. The steel structure selected was chosen because of its low embodied carbon and embodied energy. This analysis was performed using Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings.
ACCE was designed to be a ‘living laboratory’ with cut-away reveals and interactive performance monitoring that allows students and the public to understand the invisible forces and processes at work. Examples include public, real-time energy monitoring of the building water consumption, envelope heat transfer and structural loading. The public has access to mechanical rooms, the green roof and renewable energy demonstrations. The building is part of the curriculum.


  • Owner/developer Algonquin College
    Architects in Joint Venture Diamond Schmitt Architects in joint venture with Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates
    General Contractor Ellis Don
    Curtain wall and windows Ottawa Valley Glass
    Landscape Architect Gino j. Aiello Landscape Architect
    Civil Engineer Delcan Corporation
    Mechanical/Electrical Engineer Goodkey Weedmark Consulting Engineers
    Structural Engineer Halsall Associates
    Commissioning Agent Nova Commissioning Services Ltd.
    LEED Consultant/Durability Consultant Halsall Associates
    Geotechnical Consultant Alston Associates Inc.
    Code Consultant LMDG Code Consultants Ltd.
    Photos Tom Arban


  • Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 140kWh/m2/year
    Reduction in energy intensity relative to reference building under MNECB = 71%
    Projected potable water consumption from municipal sources =  3,400L/occupant/year
    Reduction in potable water consumption relative to reference building = 56%
    Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 16%
    Regional materials [800km radius] by value = 34%
    Construction waste recycled = 99%
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