University of Calgary

CDC opens

U of C opens Alberta’s most environmentally advanced facility

Child Development Centre integrates researchers, frontline workers and families to advance child health

The University of Calgary’s Child Development Centre is Alberta’s first—and Canada’s second and largest—building designed and constructed to LEED® Platinum standard, the North American benchmark for environmentally high-performance buildings.

The facility, which houses the University’s second child-care facility and a full continuum of researchers, clinicians and frontline workers, is dedicated to child health.

“The goal of the Child Development Centre is to develop effective treatments and interventions to improve child health, which then become incorporated as standard practice in the health-care system,” said U of C President Harvey Weingarten. “All of the activities in this facility will have one common goal—the improvement of the quality of life for children and their families.”

Researchers, clinicians and community practitioners working within the Child Development Centre will research and design intervention programs to illuminate or redress specific problems in the area of child health and development, such as addictions, promotion of wellness in children at risk and autism-related challenges. All of the projects and research housed at the CDC will be solution-oriented and the emphasis will be on treatment or interventions at a community or population level. The Calgary Health Region is a major tenant and partner in the facility.

The Child Development Centre currently houses the Calgary Health Region’s Child Development Services headed by Dr. Margaret Clarke and a team of over 100 professionals that help children all over Alberta, as well as the Alberta Centre for Child Family and Community Research and the Fraser Mustard Chair in Child Development. Both of these teams are interdisciplinary and have a broad mandate around knowledge translation and developing evidence-informed child development initiatives. The Child Development Centre will also partner with the Institute for Maternal Child Health, a group of researchers and practitioners exploring public and population health-related child health issues.

The CDC had its official opening October 9. The LEED®  (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum program, widely recognized across North America, signifies the most advanced level of sustainable building construction, taking into account several categories, including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy efficiency and atmosphere, materials and resource composition and indoor environmental quality.  Confirmation of a Platinum certification from the Canada Green Building Council is anticipated later this year.

“The University of Calgary, with our partner, Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning, has created a living laboratory for vital sustainability research. Our students and faculty members will benefit from the leading edge research and learning opportunities, as will our children, and their children,” said Weingarten.

The 125,000-square-foot building cost $37 million. Funding was provided from the Province of Alberta. The Child Development Centre is one of several capital expansion projects at the University of Calgary, all designed to improve the amount and quality of space for high-quality teaching, learning and research. Other capital projects include the Taylor Family Digital Library and the High Density Library, the new Energy, Environment and Experiential Learning building, the Faculty of Veterinary medicine facility at Spy Hill, and the Dr. Fok Ying Tung International House. The University last week announced plans to build an additional student residence.

The Child Development Centre incorporates the latest in sustainable design and construction elements such as: the largest photovoltaic array in Western Canada—transforming enough sunlight into electricity to run six single family homes for a year; an 83 percent reduction in construction waste; under-floor ventilation systems; motion-activated energy efficient lights; use of “gray water” in toilets; and low-flow taps.

As a result, compared to a standard building of the same scale, there will be an estimated energy cost reduction of 71 percent and a 60 percent water use reduction per year. Over the long term, the overall operating costs of the facility are significantly reduced.

“We are proud to partner with the University of Calgary and help lead the movement to raise the sustainable standards in Alberta and Canada,” said Bill Chomik, principal at Kasian. “Throughout the course of design and construction, we discovered a lot about the level of collaboration that is required for a project of this kind. Every design element incorporated into the facility had to be considered from a complexity of angles – functionality, efficiency, sustainability, budget, and aesthetics. It took significant input and a meeting-of-minds from the construction managers, sub-consultants, client, stakeholders, and user groups to determine the best outcome for the design.”

Researchers at the University, including students from the Faculty of Environmental Design and the Schulich School of Engineering, will conduct post-occupancy studies on the building’s performance.

“The CDC is the most heavily instrumented building in North America,” said Jim Love, Chair in Sustainable Building Technologies in the Faculty of Environmental Design who provided the energy engineering expertise on the project and who will pursue follow up research on the building. “Nearly everything in this building can be directly monitored, from the boilers to the elevators. This creates an ideal environment for applied research and experiential learning.”