The Vale Living with Lakes Centre officially opened in 2012. For Dr John Gunn, Canadian Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems and Laurentian University Professor, Sudbury’s Vale Living with Lakes Centre is a scientific and economic game-changer for Northern Ontario.
“The Vale Living with Lakes Centre is an incubator of new ideas and approaches for the advancement of environmental science, helping us achieve scientific breakthroughs of global proportions,” according to Dr Gunn. “The environmental research undertaken by this facility will benefit future generations and the center has already become an important scientific, educational and economic asset for Northern Ontario.”
Not only is the award-winning facility demonstrating the best in energy and water saving technologies, the center is also helping to train top young scientists and drive innovation that is helping to create jobs, preserve and protect the environment, and improve our quality of life. Recognizing the important environmental, scientific, economic and social benefits of the initiative at the conception stage, FedNor (a regional development organization in Ontario) invested USD 2 million to help establish the research center on the shores of Lake Ramsey, resulting in further significant investments being made by both the private and public sectors in the region.
The design team worked with the client’s core review team to holistically develop design concepts and solutions. There were two mottos that were repeated frequently throughout this process. They were: “Good architecture = good engineering” and “Nobody is as smart as everybody”. From early working meetings that embraced an integrated design approach, a rigorous set of goals were developed. These project goals would go on to become the DNA of the project. They helped guide virtually every design decision as the project moved forward.
With more than 330 lakes located within its boundaries, Greater Sudbury is home to more bodies of water than any other municipality in Canada, proving to be the perfect fit for Living with Lakes. Established in 2008, the center is host to Laurentian University’s Co-operative Freshwater Ecology Unit, which has helped Living with Lakes to become an internationally renowned research and monitoring facility that studies the impacts of human activities on lakes, streams and wetlands, as well as the effects of restoration techniques in Northern environments. The center has since helped double the research capacity of the Co-operative Freshwater Ecology Unit, while creating more than 30 new high-quality jobs in Northern Ontario.
The form and layout of the buildings were generated from the site topography and echo the shoreline of Ramsey Lake. Northern Ontario is reflected in the palette of local materials used throughout the project. The interior spaces provide a beautiful, healthy, and quiet work environment, offering views to the lake. 90% of spaces are naturally day-lit and are provided with natural ventilation. The building has been designed to very high standards for sustainability and is LEED® Platinum Certified.See more
Recognition of the project in the Holcim Awards competition helped to secure funding. The building is now completed, will be LEED Platinum certified. A watershed study and ecological mapping identified potential synergies with building systems, and led to the inclusion of rain and grey water reuse, and consistent use of regional limestone to aid in improving the pH balance of site water, and leading to improved water quality and increased biodiversity, and a reduction in the use of potable water by 80%.
The project also combined a mandate to maximize energy efficiency and minimize operating costs. The geothermal heating system with ground source heat pumps, high performance thermal envelope, solar domestic water heating, permeable paving, green roofs with local blueberry cover, natural day lighting, efficient appliances and lighting with daylight sensors, locally sourced and non-toxic materials and wind farm will reduce energy use by 77%. The project aimed to design a building so energy efficient and with relatively low operating costs that the savings could be put back into the research efforts of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit.
Over the next 25 years, the predicted energy savings amount to more than USD 1 million. At Living with Lakes – where environmental restoration and research in sustainability are at the forefront – researchers will have access to laboratories, classrooms, offices for researches and technicians, environmental bays and a waterway restoration centre. The centre examines the long-term effectiveness of pollution reduction, and how the damaged lake ecosystem is able to dynamically heal itself over time.
Holcim Awards provide boost to project
The selection of the project by the Holcim Awards regional jury was a tremendous boost to the project’s implementation – both through the financial support of the prize money, but also through media and professional recognition of the value of the project. “The recognition that the Holcim Awards brought to this project was a major turning point in our fundraising effort to complete the construction”, says project leader and scientist at Laurentian University, John Gunn. “I truly believe we would not have succeeded without it, especially in this difficult financial time.”
Funding support from Vale Inco and the Knowledge Infrastructure Program
Vale Inco, a Canadian based global mining company and a leading producer of nickel committed an additional USD 4.2 million to the project in January 2008. Vale had initially committed USD 300,000 in June 2006 to studying the feasibility of the 2,800m2 structure meeting Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental design) standards, the strictest in the LEED classification series.
The Knowledge Infrastructure Program is an initiative of the governments of Canada and Ontario who are investing USD 1.4 billion in 49 projects at Ontario’s colleges and universities. In May 2009, the Knowledge Infrastructure Program confirmed additional funding which cleared the way for final approval by the Laurentian University Board of Governors. Construction began in June 2009.
The site was cleared, excavation for the foundations and drilling for the geothermal wells was completed by September 2009. By the end of December 2009, the concrete foundations, floor slab and elevator shaft were also completed. 40 geothermal wells for building heating and cooling systems were drilled and associated piping extended to the building. By the end of the year, engineered structural timber had been delivered and the erection of the wood framing had begun. The FSC-certified wood is from northern Ontario and Quebec – pine and spruce, native to the region, and further construction progressed on schedule.See more
The Living with Lakes Center in northeastern Ontario will be self-sufficient for electricity and heating needs. The project overseen by Laurentian University scientist John Gunn will also house a research center to investigate the restoration of the city of Sudbury’s ecosystem with an emphasis on guaranteeing drinking water quality for future generations.
The Bronze award-winning project will be built to LEED platinum standards with instrumentation fitted to monitor the effectiveness of an array of technical features and their impact on lake water quality.Top sustainable construction projects in North America honored » pour en savoir plus (French) »
The Living with Lakes Center for applied research in environmental restoration and sustainability will be situated at Lake Ramsey, the natural drinking water reservoir of Sudbury, a city of 150,000 people in northern Ontario.
The outstanding strengths of this project are twofold. Firstly, the new research and exhibition center will be built according to the most stringent criteria of sustainable construction minimizing the ecological footprint and assuring self-reliance with regard to energy and heat supply. Secondly, the research to be conducted in this center will contribute to the restoration of Sudbury’s ecosystem with an emphasis on guaranteeing the drinking water quality and quantity for future generations.
The center and the water reservoir will be ﬁtted with instrumentation to monitor all the effectiveness of the array of technical features and the consequent impact on lake water quality. The results will be communicated to the public through web-based media and exhibitions at the nearby science center of Sudbury. The jury has commended this project due to its high potential as a practical demonstration of sustainable construction in action, and the broad dissemination of the gained knowledge.See more
It has taken many different measures over a number of years to rehabilitate the severely degraded environment of an acid-rain drenched mining city into a healthy landscape again. Symbolic of the metamorphosis is the Living with Lakes Center for freshwater restoration and research. Its interdisciplinary team is guided by the mantra of “restore, reduce and renew”.Download project entry poster (PDF, 2.33 MB) »
Project authors John Gunn, Scientist, Laurentian University and Jeff Laberge, Architect, J L Richards & Associates, …
Former winners from Canada discuss the positive impact that winning the Holcim Awards competition has created for their …