Solar chimney marks addition to Schulich School of Business, York University
Architecture and engineering are seamlessly integrated in the Rob and Cheryl McEwen graduate 6,166m² academic research and classroom building to create a unique, climate responsive, hybrid environmental design that promotes occupant wellbeing, while reducing energy use intensity to a level significantly below the model national reference standard.
By Barry Sampson
Environmental design strategies include:
- Optimized building orientation and façade design for effective shading and solar harvesting;
- A high-performance envelope with window-to-wall ratio carefully calibrated for effective daylighting and maximized insulation;
- High-efficiency mechanical systems including activated concrete with radiant heating and cooling, high output metal cooling acoustic baffles and dedicated outside air displacement system.
- A hybrid active/passive bioclimatic system featuring a climate responsive solar chimney that uses stack effect to drive effective building-wide natural ventilation, and contributes to passive pre-heating of the fresh air supply.
- The project is targeting LEED Gold certification and is also equipped with the energy infrastructure required to achieve net zero energy in the future, pending the addition of onsite photovoltaic panels and geothermal boreholes. Together, the bustling atrium and the landmark solar chimney are physical manifestations of the school’s dual goals: to break down the physical and social barriers to creative thinking, while simultaneously putting into action the School’s commitment to sustainable design.
The unique form and architectural identity of the McEwen Building results from the synthesis of climate- adapted passive system design, program planning, and urban design responses to challenging site constrains.
Folded surfaces are used to transform the building footprint from alignment with the south-east orientation of the campus to optimal solar orientation of the building’s south facade for effective shading and solar energy harvesting, in particular optimizing the solar preheat mode of the solar chimney. South- and west-facing glazing with Inline Fiberglass windows is shaded in summer by solar awnings and louvered shading devices.
The south-facing wind-sheltered courtyard creates an extension of the building’s social terrain and expands the existing system of interconnected courtyards of the original Schulich complex.
With interior social activities of the atrium visible through the exterior glazed wall and the chimney illuminated above as a landmark at night, these two strategic elements emphasize the social and environmental roles of the building to the campus at large. Access by public transit is straightforward, facilitating the hosting of a variety of events and conferences. With York University subway station just a three-minute walk away, there was no requirement for additional on-site parking; instead, numerous bike parking rings were installed near the building entrances.
The 28-metre tall solar chimney, situated on top of the central atrium, drives the multi modal hybrid active/passive ventilation and environmental control system. The building automation system monitors the rooftop weather station and controls the switching between three ventilation modes: passive hybrid natural ventilation mode in shoulder seasons, active preheat mode in winter, and active cooling mode in summer.
In active modes, during the summer and winter when windows must be closed to save energy and control humidity, the building uses a Dedicated Outside Air System (programmed to save energy by meeting ventilation requirements only, rather than heating or cooling which are provided by the Klimatrol [Klimatrol (Rehau)- (905) 454-1742 and Artech (Lindner) (905) 454-1742] radiant system), and low-speed displacement ventilation. This delivers a building-wide 1.8 air changes per hour (ACH); however, this is a rare maximum supply since occupancy sensors ensure that ventilation air is delivered only where required.
- Owner/Developer York University
- Architect Baird Sampson Neuert Architects
- General Contractor Ellis Don Construction
- Landscape Architect PLANT Architect Inc.
- Civil Engineer R.V. Anderson Associates Limited
- Electrical/ Mechanical Engineer Crosssey Engineering Ltd.
- Structural Engineer Blackwell Structural Engineers
- Commissioning Agent JLL
- Climate Consultants Transsolar
- Code Consultant Leber Rubes Inc.
- Building Envelope Consultants RDH Building Science Inc.
- Acoustical Consultants Swallow Acoustic Consultants
- Cost Consultants Vermeulens Cost Consultants
- Elevator Consultant KJA Consultants Inc.
- Photos Steven Evans Photography & Cindy Nguyen
- Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 89.1 KWhr/m²/year
- Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 74,2%
- Water consumption from municipal sources = 2,170 litres/occupant/year
- Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 47%
- Recycled material content by value = 20.1%
- Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 39,2%
- Construction waste diverted from landfill = 88.5%
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