The Alberta Water and Environment Science Building (AWESB) was completed in 2008 and contains numerous sustainable features that helped it earn silver LEED certification.
When you first walk into the building lobby it's hard not to notice the Living Wall that travels up three floors. The plants on the wall are sustained by nutrients in the water that continuously circulate up and down the wall. The vertical greenhouse acts as a natural air filter using plants as a bio-filter – the largest in North America.
The building itself uses several innovative water and energy conservation programs. For example, rain water is collected through the roof and stored in a basement cistern for use in the dual flush toilets and waterless urinals that are installed in the washrooms. This reduces daily potable water usage by 90 per cent, while also creating a more natural airflow and more efficient air-conditioning/heating systems.
The outdoor pond forms part of the storm water management strategy for Exploration Place and aids in preventing erosion and sedimentation from flowing into the Oldman River by retaining storm water and directing it away from the river.
In addition, the building is made mostly of steel with a high recyclable material content.
Other features of the building include:
- Large windows and light shelf systems that allow daylight to supplement the electric lighting saving the University thousands of dollars each year.
- Wall mounted digital utility consumption readout panels that show up-to-the-minute readings on the building’s electricity, gas and water usage. This helps encourage building occupants to conserve their resources. Water usage in the fish lab is metered separately.
- A heat recovery system within the exhaust air system is used to reclaim some of the building’s heat to preheat the incoming supply air. The heat recovery system, along with lighting motion sensors, photocells and override switches, also help reduce energy consumption.