Renewal project sees Casa Loma running leaner, greener

Former GBC student oversees Honeywell green retrofit 37 years after graduating.

From Monday to Friday, Casa Loma campus halls surge with busy students- but the activity doesn’t stop once night falls or the weekend comes. Construction workers and tradespeople have been labouring after-hours to finish a green renewal project that will modernize one of George Brown’s oldest facilities.

The partnership between George Brown College and Honeywell, which broke ground in March 2015, sees a comprehensive retrofit performed on multiple facility systems in Casa Loma’s buildings to reduce emissions, cut costs and make the campus more comfortable for students and faculty. The retrofits are projected to be completed by the end of 2016.

The project, as outlined by Raymond Khoo, Honeywell’s on-site project manager, has four components. The first is the installation of a smart variable-flow ventilation system, which will come as a relief to students coping with sweltering or frigid classes.

“Let’s say it senses that there’s nobody in a lab, it’ll actually slow the fan down and close off that area and only provide a minimum flow of air,” said Khoo. “Occupants in the building will actually start to notice that there will be less cold and hot spots because we’re distributing air where it needs to be.”

The second retrofit is a big overhaul of the building’s lighting, with approximately 6,800 upgrades to LED bulbs and associated fixtures across campus. The third is a replacement of plumbing fixtures to upgrade to water-saving models, while the fourth and final improvement is the all-around improvement and upgrading of the building’s environmental sealing, reducing unwanted heat loss across the board.

A report from Canada Colleges on green initiatives at public post-secondary institutions states that the retrofits will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700 metric tonnes per year, as well as yield the college at least $420,000 in annual utilities savings.

“The energy savings we get every month and year goes towards paying for all the work Honeywell has put into this project,” explained Eric Schneider, facilities campus manager at George Brown.  Luis Rodrigues, VP general manager of Honeywell’s energy services group, clarified that the project is a ten-year payback project, which means that the project will have effective0ly paid for itself through savings after ten years.

For Rodrigues, though, as a former George Brown student who studied at Casa Loma, this represents more than just another project. His connection is more personal.

“To have been selected is to have the privilege of working for George Brown College at the very same campus I graduated from almost 37 years ago has been a highlight for us.”

Rodrigues said that Honeywell and George Brown have a “long-standing and mutually-rewarding relationship” that stretches back almost 30 years. George Brown students are regularly sent to Honeywell conferences to stay appraised of current industry developments, and the college administration consults Honeywell to help develop modern and effective curricula. He sees this project as another step in that relationship.

“My stance is the overall team has been very focused on continuous improvement, rising to the challenge of doing more with less and funding challenges, and trying to find innovative ways to improve the space for students.”

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Renewal project sees Casa Loma running leaner, greener