The Destination Project, the largest construction project of the University of Lethbridge to date, is a building dedicated to research and teaching of natural sciences, designed to offer comfort and functionality while keeping energy consumption low. Summers on-site are warm and humid, while winters are extremely cold. When Chinook occurs, the wind may have hurricane speed and cause extreme temperature fluctuations. For Transsolar, the task was to reduce energy consumption in order to create the most sustainable laboratory building in the province that would best support users and their work.
In close collaboration with the team, Transsolar accompanied the planning process with daylight simulations in order to optimize the availability of daylight in the atrium and offices by designing the rooms and facades. Detailed thermal simulations were the tools used to design double facades, shading and component activation in order to achieve maximum comfort with minimum energy consumption. One of the measures was to significantly reduce the amount of air to be moved.
The shadings are installed inside the double façade and protect the offices from solar loads and overheating. Concrete core activation in the ceilings is for heating and cooling. The displacement ventilation for all offices separates the hygienic ventilation from the room conditioning. For the offices, the ventilation concept has modes for natural and mechanical ventilation. The natural ventilation mode is active when the temperatures in the double façade allow ventilation by opening the windows in the inner façade, a possibility that provides additional comfort for office users, especially during the transition times. When the mechanical ventilation is active, the supply air comes through the air inlets. In both cases, the air flows into the corridor area and the atrium. In winter, this air also flows through the conservatory, which heats it further before it reaches the plenum, from which the offices also receive the supply air.
The plenum with its air volume is also an element of the laboratories' air supply: their room exhaust air is discharged via an enthalpy wheel, which is particularly energy-efficient: it transfers heat to the cold outside air while entering and humidifying it at the same time, after which it refreshes the air volume of the plenum from which the offices and laboratories are supplied.
The controlled supply air ensures air quality in the building, and its amount thus remains low overall and heat recovery effective. Exhaust air fans without ducts minimize the electric power requirement. The air from the digesters (fume hoods) passes separately through a system with run around coil, a heat recovery which prevents any mixing of supply and return air.
The conservatory as a partially conditioned room offers proximity to nature. The ventilation of the vivariums is a separate system which also operates with heat recovery. Overall, the building should consume 50% less energy than the basic model; the goal is LEED Gold certification.