South Tower residence sustainability officially recognized

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A UVic residence building has been recognized for its environmental design and sustainability. The South Tower residence, which welcomed its first group of students in January 2011, received a gold-level certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) New Construction from the Canada Green Building Council on Jan. 4, 2013. The certification attests to the building’s environmental sustainability in its design, construction and performance. The LEED certification has been awarded by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) since 2002 and uses an adaptation of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED criteria that is “tailored specifically for Canadian climates, construction practices and regulations” according to the CaGBC website.

The six-storey, 106-bed residence was designed by Stantec Architecture, constructed on a former parking lot and completed within its $13-million budget. The construction of the building was prompted by the increasing number of first-year students who are guaranteed housing on campus. According to a UVic media release, the building features indoor and outdoor bicycle storage, “efficient energy and water management measures, locally sourced and recycled materials, natural landscaping and enhanced indoor air quality.” In addition, 97 per cent of waste was diverted from landfills during its construction.

The building also incorporates sustainability into its community as it is one of four themed communities offered by UVic Residence Services. The Sustainability Community of South Tower is designed to engage students in the development by exploring sustainable living as an individual, community and society. Executive Director of Student Services Joel Lynn was pleased the building was recognized for its sustainability and environmental friendliness, stating that many students are interested in the topic, whether it be through academics or extracurricular activities.

“It’s important for us to extend that in their living environment,” says Lynn. “Students engaged in that discussion should also have the opportunity to do that where they live.” The residents of South Tower have performed beach cleanups and World Wildlife Fund recycling fundraisers, among other sustainability-themed activities.

The building joins five other UVic facilities that have received the LEED gold certification, including the Social Sciences and Mathematics building, the Engineering and Computer Science building and the First Peoples House. As a part of UVic’s Sustainability Action Plan, a five-year plan for environmental sustainability on the campus from 2009–2014, all new buildings constructed on campus are to be certified as gold-level LEED facilities and half of all major building renovations are to be certified by the LEED Existing Building program. Other major projects to be completed include the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA), a $59-million athletic and research facility expected to be finished in spring of 2015.

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