Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, a CRH company collaborated with Baird Sampson Neuert (architects) to develop an innovative and sustainable new structure within York University’s business school. Completed in January 2019, the 6,500 m2 building’s orientation, geometry and façade design maximize thermal energy performance and daylighting effectiveness. The building is one of the first to use the principles of Thermally Active Building Systems to achieve LEED Gold certification. Thermal activation is the active use of thermal mass properties provided by heavyweight parts of the building envelope, such as concrete, to absorb and release heat and thus increase overall energy efficiency.
The building's unique form and architectural identity is the result of the synthesis of climate-responsive design and urban design to respond to challenging site constraints. Toronto’s extremely variable climate of hot, humid summers, and cold winters, poses significant challenges for architects and engineers considering how to incorporate and control natural ventilation into large buildings.
To address this challenge, the design was approached with a ‘whole building design’ mindset from the outset. In its first winter of operation, the solar chimney design was found to have worked better than expected in its preheat mode. With outside air temperatures of -1°C, air temperature at the inlet to the Dedicated Outside Air System was measured at nearly +11°C, a warming of over 12 degrees before heat recovery. Temperature gain from the solar chimney pre-heat will be the most effective on cold days with full sun.