University of Calgary
MacKimmie Complex Redevelopment
Calgary, Alberta

Why Zero Carbon

The Zero Carbon Building initiative aligns with the University of Calgary's Institutional Sustainability Strategy and supporting frameworks, which outline the aspirational goals of attaining net carbon neutrality and becoming one of the most energy-efficient campuses in Canada. The University of Calgary is especially interested in helping to develop the Zero Carbon Building Standard into a tool that can successfully support post-secondary institutions, as well as projects incorporating district energy systems and those located in GHG-intense provincial electricity grids and cold-arid climatic regions.

About the project

The MacKimmie Complex Redevelopment involves a significant renovation and expansion to the University of Calgary's MacKimmie Library Tower and a full rebuild of the Library Block. Once completed, this project will provide a re-energized central hub of improved and new academic learning spaces, centralized undergraduate and graduate student services, new student study space and office spaces in the heart of campus. The project will involve more than 32,000 square metres of gross floor area, with construction ramping up in 2017 and completion targeted for 2022.

The integrated design process and advanced energy modelling are employed to support a low-energy, near-zero-carbon design. Schematic design work by the project team has identified the following strategies that are targeted for incorporation into this project:

  • Double-skin facade with active shading systems
  • Building-integrated renewable energy generation
  • Active and passive natural ventilation
  • High thermal mass construction
  • Daylighting
  • Leveraging the University of Calgary district energy systems

Benefits of participation

The pursuit of the Zero Carbon Building Standard is a tangible demonstration of the University of Calgary’s commitment to be a leader in sustainability among Canadian post-secondary institutions. It directly supports the goals of the University’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy and aligns with its Energy Innovations research strategy. The project provides important opportunities to use the University of Calgary campus as a learning-laboratory for sustainability research and teaching.

“We see the Zero Carbon Building Standard as an opportunity to highlight the MacKimmie Complex Redevelopment Project and to showcase innovation at the University of Calgary,” says Adam Stoker, Sustainability Consultant with the University’s Office of Sustainability.

Challenges and learning areas

Targeting zero carbon requires the adoption of new technologies and new operational concepts that will push the boundaries of the project team’s collective experience. Zero carbon buildings require heavily integrated design processes, inventive construction methods, and a progressive operational mindset.

“Project teams will find themselves pushing the limits of what is possible using conventional tools and will invest more time than usual researching the newest and best practices in high-performance green buildings,” Stoker says. The University also cited building operator participation as foundational for success, and emphasized understanding the influence of building occupants on the performance of a zero carbon building as a central focus for its project team.

Project Team

Owner/Developer: University of Calgary
Sustainability Consultant: University of Calgary
Architect: DIALOG
Civil Engineer: Urban Systems
Electrical Engineer: SMP Engineering
Energy Engineer: Transsolar
Geotechnical Engineer: Tetra Tech
Mechanical Engineer: DIALOG
Structural Engineer: Entuitive
Contractor: Stuart Olson
Landscape Architect: DIALOG
Project Manager: Duke Evans