Solar Energy

There is an array of solar panels on the VCSEE roof to take advantage of an unobstructed southern orientation.  With an estimated output of 64 kW, the panels power our domestic hot water system first, then any excess capacity is directed to the heat pump or in-slab radiant heating systems.

Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation just makes sense:  we don’t need to use full-powered ventilation when the weather is good.  The VCSEE’s windows are tied in to the building automation system so they can respond automatically to seasonal and occupancy conditions. When the outside conditions are favourable. the windows open up and allow fresh air to come in.

European Beech Wood

European Beech wood was used throughout the building.   Wood from beech trees (as well as pine, oak, and birch) cause lower environmental risk than wood from tropical or subtropical trees like mahogany or teak. The ceiling in the atrium is also European beech – openings in some of the panels are for acoustic properties

Geothermal system for heating and cooling

The VCSEE is heated and cooled with an advanced geothermal system, which contributes over 20% of the estimated energy savings compared to conventional sources.  There are 39 vertical wells on a closed loop.  The system is based on a series of 400-foot, two-pipe boreholes, drilled on a 20 x 20 foot grid. With this set-up, VCSEE can heat and cool itself with no demand for hot water heating supply from CBU’s central heating plant.

Water Conservation

During wet weather the “V” shape allows the roof runoff (except during extreme overflow) to be collected in an above ground cistern to supply non-potable uses in the VCSEE, such as toilets and irrigation.  Used in combination with low flush washroom fixtures, the VCSEE has excellent water conservation.

Lighting Features

VCSEE’s lighting is tied to daylight and occupancy sensors:  entering a room triggers lights on if natural light is not sufficient, exiting the room eventually triggers lights-off.   Nova Scotia is a world leader in LED lighting use, and VCSEE uses LED in all exterior lighting. All offices, labs, and meeting rooms in the VCSEE benefit from natural light sources.  Even areas along the interior walls have windows, which allow natural light to filter into the space.

Other Green Features

Other building features include:  local and regional materials, materials with high recycled content, materials free from “off-gassing” content, FSC certified wood products, high performance glazing products (for improved thermal and day-lighting efficiency), high emissivity roof membrane, and permeable outdoor pavements. During the construction, VCSEE builders practiced construction waste separation and management (for landfill diversion), stringent erosion and sedimentation control, rigorous indoor air quality management, and conscientious building systems commissioning.


Ventilation System

The VCSEE’s displacement ventilation system supplies cool clean, high volume, low velocity air at floor level, then extracts the air at ceiling height.  This is highly efficient and effective from a comfort and energy standpoint.  Displacement ventilation is at work in a number of areas including public event spaces, the atrium and the lecture theatre.

Greywater System

Greywater is wastewater from domestic activities such as cleaning, hand washing, showers, etc.  At the VCSEE this excess water is captured on-site and delivered to an environmental park, which then supplies a water feature allowing solid materials to settle, water to oxygenate, and exposing the water to beneficial bacteria and microbes that thrive in plant roots and rock material.

Living Wall

Located on the mezzanine level in the heart of the building, the living wall is a vertical hydroponic garden of tropical plants, overlooking the atrium, directly beneath a central skylight that washes the vegetation with daylight, sunlight, and shadow through the day. Research suggests that in “biophilic” spaces – where humans and organic life interact – patients recover more quickly, students learn better, workplace productivity goes up, and absenteeism goes down.  Even if VCSEE visitors simply stare at its beauty, the living wall contributes significantly to indoor air quality.

A LEED Gold standard building on the first carbon neutral energy self- sufficient university campus in Canada. The Centre is powered by geothermal and CBU wind farm renewable energy.


1250 Grand Lake Road,
Sydney, Nova Scotia,
Canada   B1M 1A2

T 902-563-1292 |

© 2022 The Verschuren Centre