The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) recently joined Brock University’s list of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings.
As a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership, LEED provides a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon- and cost-saving green buildings.
LEED projects earn points by adhering to prerequisites and credits across nine measurements for building excellence, from integrative design to human health to material use. The LEED rating systems work for most buildings at most phases of development and are meant to challenge project teams and inspire outside-the-box solutions.
While most LEED certifications are given to newly constructed facilities, the MIWSFPA was rated in the Building Operations and Management (O+M) category, as the building underwent work to improve its already existing structure.
Construction of the downtown St. Catharines arts school, completed in 2015, included the redevelopment of the former Canada Hair Cloth Building, which dates back to the 19th century. The MIWSFPA now provides state-of-the-art studios, exhibition spaces, performance venues, digital classrooms and learning commons for students in fine and performing arts programs. Modern features have been added to the building, while still retaining as much of the character and original structure as possible.
“The majority of the costs and environmental impacts of a building occur during the life cycle of the asset, not during construction,” says Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management and Utilities with Brock’s Facilities Management. “By pursuing LEED O+M, Brock is demonstrating its commitment to long-term thinking as part of its commitment to sustainability and world-class operations.”
Buildings are responsible for an enormous amount of global energy use, resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and have a significant impact on health and well-being.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council and a study conducted by the U.S Department of Energy, in the U.S. alone, buildings account for almost 40 per cent of national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — more than both the industrial and transportation sectors combined. LEED-certified buildings have 34 per cent less CO2 emissions, consume 25 per cent less energy and 11 per cent less water, and have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills.
Over the past several years, Brock’s Facilities Management team has worked diligently to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the MIWSFPA in categories such as energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, water efficiency, and more.
There are four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. After applying for certification and undergoing a technical review, the arts school received a score of 75 out of 100, just five points shy of reaching the platinum level.
“This is an exciting achievement for the University and its progress toward sustainable innovation and development,” Quintana says. “Achieving LEED certification is proof that the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is going above and beyond to ensure the space is operated to the highest level of sustainability, providing a healthier and more comfortable space to work and study in.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written by Alexandra Cotrufo, a Master of Sustainability candidate and research assistant at Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.