Green Buildings

One University of Windsor building is LEED Certified: the Anthony P. Toldo Health Education Centre and another one, the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation (CEI) was built following LEED principles. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and environmental quality. Although not certified, CEI includes many LEED features such as:

Quality LED bulbs last longer, durable and provides better quality of lighting. Interior and exterior lighting in the UWindsor campus is converted to LED fixtures. In addition to energy saving, better lighting distribution and illumination will be achieved. LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology. Energy star products use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting. The rapid development of LED technology leads to more products and improved manufacturing efficiency, which also results in lower prices.

  • Safer: LEDs are much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion or burnt fingers.

  • Sturdier: LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, and are much more resistant to breakage.

  • Longer lasting: The same LED string could still be in use 40 holiday seasons from now.

  • Easier to install: Up to 25 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket.

  • A Termodeck pre-cast hollowcore concrete plank terminal air delivery system utilizes the thermal mass of the building structure to reduce peak loads and air volumes, while reducing mechanical equipment and air ducting; 

  • Glass and solar active systems for advanced lighting control; 

  • A green roof to collect and filter rain water to provide gray water; 

  • An exposed structural system comprised of various materials and assemblies: post-tensioned concrete, long-span, high-bay lab structure, light steel roof and ‘glu-lam’ wood; 

  • A zone-controlled HVAC System and a Bio-filter living wall to provide improved air quality while reducing energy consumption. The bio-filter living wall filters and re-oxygenates indoor air. Re-circulated air is removed of its toxins and passively humidified; and 

  • Sensors installed throughout the building to continually monitor air quality, heating, lighting and cooling systems using specially designed software integrated into the workings of the structure. 

UWindsor is home to three living walls, in CEI Atrium, CAW dining area, and the Medical building. Living walls are also referred to as green walls, or vertical gardens, which are self-sufficient gardens that are attached to the interior of a building.  

These 'Bio-filter' living walls provide improved air quality while reducing energy consumption. The Bio-filter living wall filters and re-oxygenates indoor air. Re-circulated air is removed of its toxins and passively humidified offering improved air quality to occupants and visitors alike. Waterproof panels are mounted to the frame; these are rigid and provide structural support. There is a layer of air between the building and the panels which enables the building to ‘breath’. This adds beneficial insulating properties and acts like rain-screening to protect the building envelop.

Green walls are low maintenance usually with an automatic irrigation system. They are water efficient, especially when compared to the irrigation that is used for gardens and urban parks. Being hydroponic (i.e. soil-less) makes them very clean and eliminates the possibility of soil borne pathogens. A lightweight porous material takes the place of soil and therefore the walls are very light, weighing less than 4 lb/ft2 (20 kg/m2). It is the lightest green wall system on the market today! A material is used which evenly distributes moisture and nutrients to the plants. This also doubles as a structural support for the roots and allows them to grow everywhere, resulting in no space limitations. The system reproduces thin layers of moss or substrate growing on exposed vertical areas such as rocks, cliff faces, tree trunks or river banks. Vertical gardens likewise provide protection from ultraviolet radiation, driving rain and wear and tear caused by moisture and temperature differentials. They also decrease the effect of wind pressure, which can improve the air tightness of doors, windows and cladding.


A green wall with stairs and stairs in a buildingDescription automatically generated

Green Roof provide benefits such as better air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved storm water management and long-term economic advantages. Green roof technology includes: roof structure and possibly some insulation; waterproofing membrane, often with root repellent insertion; a drainage system, sometimes with built-in water reservoirs; landscape or filter cloth to contain the roots and the soil; specialized growing medium; and plants. Vertical gardens block movement of dust, while green roofs have a moderating effect on thermal air movement and trap airborne particulates. Studies have shown that treed urban streets have substantially less dust compared to those without trees. Both green roofs and vertical gardens further contribute to reducing pollution by absorbing gaseous pollutants. These systems have a beneficial impact on moderating the heat gain and loss of buildings, as well as on humidity, air quality and reflected heat. In conjunction with other green installations, these technologies can play a role in altering the climate of a city as a whole. A healthy urban climate could be achieved by greening only five per cent of all roofs and walls within a city. Widely implemented, these technologies can provide effective methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by shading buildings, improving insulation values and reducing higher urban temperatures caused by the expanse of reflective surfaces in urban areas, known as the “urban heat island effect”.

Higher temperatures increase atmospheric instability, which in turn can increase the chance of rainfall and severe thunderstorms. They also affect air quality, as heated air stirs up dust. Strategically placed vertical gardens can help cool air and slow it down, by creating turbulence in vertical airflow. Another significant benefit of green roofs is their ability to retain storm water. Typical storm water systems in urban areas have resulted in a number of problems, such as water contamination, sewage overflows, drops in local water tables, water temperature increases, severe flooding and erosion. Green roofs and vertical gardens provide viable alternatives for environmentally appropriate storm water management. Studies show that green roofs absorb 75 per cent of the precipitation that falls on them. Runoff occurs over several hours, thereby reducing the risk of sewage overflows and flash floods.

There are also economic cost benefits for building owners.  The green roof and vertical garden systems provide energy cost savings due to increased insulation, extend the life span of roof membranes and vertical surfaces due to improved protection, provide sound insulation, increase aesthetic appeal and, potentially, improve property values. Green roofs protect roofing membranes against ultraviolet radiation, extreme temperature fluctuations and puncture or physical damage from recreation or maintenance. Green roofs can be used for other advantages, such as recycling wastewater and in water-based heat exchange systems.

Solar control systems can help to reduce the cooling energy consumption of buildings, to reduce the energy consumption of the artificial lighting systems to provide visual comfort, to ensure healthy natural lighting and to generate solar electricity and solar heat at the same time. Well-designed solar-control systems are therefore important elements that help to achieve the CO2 reduction goals worldwide. According to General Services Administration (GSA) savings greater than 30% is possible with advanced lighting control systems like glass and solar systems.