For Dalhousie University, the new Mona Campbell Building not only represented the chance for the university to gain more academic space, but also take a further step into LEED and environmental initiatives. “Green is a big thing here,” Senior Project Leader Omar Khartabil says. The new building, which is located on Dalhousie’s campus in Halifax, Nova Scotia, covers 100,000 square feet and features four levels of office spaces on its north side, and three levels of classroom spaces on the structure’s south side.
Additionally, the structure is the campus’ first building to be designed and built to LEED certification standards. The certification process is underway, targeting LEED Gold certification.
While Dalhousie used green initiatives on two other structures, the Mona Campbell Building is “the most efficient building on campus right now,” Khartabil says. Its LEED features include a green roof on its classroom section and a cistern located in the basement with a capacity of approximately 80,000 liters.
Additionally, the Mona Campbell Building uses OptiNet sensors to monitor and document indoor air quality. It also features solar wall panels and smart lighting, which regulates and controls the light levels.
These green features will “help reduce the energy consumption quite drastically,” Khartabil says.
Construction started on the facility nearly two years ago, and the project team managed to complete it on time and under the $33 million budget, Khartabil says. “We had a great team working together,” he says, noting that AECON Atlantic
was the construction manager. The project was substantially completed in September 2010.
The team’s performance is even more noteworthy considering it coped with many hurdles, including meeting the diverse requirements of the building users and the university’s evolving green initiatives. Because four different departments occupy the facility, “Each had their own agenda,” Khartabil says. “We did our best to ensure that everyone got what they were looking for.”
Additionally, the construction team found it challenging to install one of the project’s green features, BubbleDeck. The BubbleDeck is a concrete slab filled with plastic balls that reduces volume of concrete used and energy consumption during manufacturing, compared to a solid slab.
“The BubbleDeck reduces 35 percent of concrete used, and saves 50 percent with the same bearing effect, which leads to further reduction through the building structure,” the university says. “Also, every component can be recycled.”
The new building is the first in Atlantic Canada to use the technology, Khartabil notes. “No one knew how to basically work with it,” he says. Representatives from BubbleDeck Atlantic were constantly on site to help during the installation process.
For nearly 200 years, Dalhousie says it has been at the heart of the coastal city of Halifax. “Our historic, tree-lined campuses combine the welcoming atmosphere of Canada’s east coast with the international prestige of a big-name school,” it says.
“Dalhousie blends the finest academic traditions with innovative thinking and outstanding educational opportunities,” the university explains. “With 11 faculties and 3,700 courses in 180 areas of study, Dalhousie offers students a wealth of choice and flexible degree programs in one of Canada’s leading research institutions.”
An electrical engineer by trade, Khartabil joined the university in January 2008. Previously, he worked on projects in Dubai International Airport in the UAE, but joined Dalhousie when he was hired for the academic building project after completing his MBA at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Although the transition was a jarring one, Khartabil has enjoyed his time at Dalhousie. “It’s a good working environment,” he says, noting that the university is pleased with the finished facility. “Everyone loves it.
“They think it’s a beautiful building,” he says. “They’re glad to see an efficient building built.”