University of Calgary

Dr. Jim Love on reducing emissions for cold climate buildings

Submitted by jwalla on Mon, 2012/07/23 - 8:28am.

Building operations account for about 40% of Global CO2 emissions. My research seeks large reductions in emissions for cold climate buildings while maintaining a good indoor environment.  I am engaged with the building industry in demonstrating that this can be achieved in affordable ways. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (Architecture Canada) “2030 Challenge” initiative has the goal of carbon neutrality for new buildings by 2030. I did the energy engineering for two of the three Prairie buildings selected as Architecture Canada 2030 Challenge case studies– the University of Calgary’s Child Development Centre (CDC) and Ecole Lawrence Grassi Middle School, Canmore. The energy intensity of these buildings was comparable to that of a recently built US National Renewable Energy (NREL) net zero energy office building near Denver. This was achieved with costs close to or at standard construction budgets. A direct benefit to owner organizations is much lower utility costs.

These buildings provide environments for graduate research. For example, last  year, a graduate and I published a paper  showing that  under floor air distribution (UFAD) at the CDC provided ventilation effectiveness superior to traditional commercial building ventilation systems. Only one detailed field study on UFAD had previously been published, finding that ventilation effectiveness fell short of the performance that had been projected based on simulation and lab pilot studies. 

I have worked on a few of the university’s buildings. Due to budget constraints, the wall system for the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) was 35% thermally worse than the energy code minimum. However, I worked with the design and construction team to achieve a design energy rating more than 25% better than the energy code minimum. This was a requirement of the City of Calgary contribution of $3.2 million towards the Nickle gallery component of the TFDL. I also contributed an alternative lighting design for the stack areas that used 50% fewer light fixtures while providing higher and more even illumination of the book spines. 

As the president of the Alberta professional engineer’s association stated “it is in the public interest to ensure that development is done in an environmentally sustainable way”. The U of C’s “smart cities” 2012 strategic research theme highlights high performance buildings as a topic. The strategic research plan states “we have committed to increase our research impact in priority areas where we have recognized strength and leadership, where we can highly integrate teaching and research, where research outcomes and translation promote sustainability”. 

Students who have worked with me are employed as faculty in China and Egypt, and with organizations such as NREL and the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (Spain). While these climates are milder, the graduates apply approaches and expertise they have gained in the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS).

Dr. Jim Love is the Chair of Sustainable Building Technologies and professor of architecture at EVDS. He specializes in sustainable development and design. For more information on Dr. Jim Love's research view his profile.

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