The IDEA Project was designed with sustainability in mind: both new and renovated infrastructure has been crafted to improve efficiency, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and support student and faculty learning and research.

Over $4 million of the IDEA Project budget was devoted to sustainable technology and infrastructure, with the aim of having the new and improved spaces achieve LEED Platinum Certification. If this goal is met, it will be a first for Dalhousie University.

Sustainable Infrastructure

In both the new and renovated spaces of the IDEA Project, care has been taken to ensure that key building infrastructure maximizes energy efficiency and reduces the carbon imprint of the campus. Key examples include:

  • renewable energy generation (solar and geothermal)
  • water efficiency systems (process water efficiency systems and rain-water cisterns)
  • energy-saving retrofits to building exteriors (including the D Building, which is otherwise not affected by IDEA)
  • energy efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
Affirmative steps have been taken to ameliorate the inevitable eco-footprint of the construction of new facilities. In response to the removal of 17 trees on campus to facilitate construction, biomass has been planted across Dalhousie's campuses to generate the equivalent of 170 trees' worth of carbon filtration. Nor were the trees themselves wasted: the wood from the removed trees was used to construct new benches for the buildings.

Green Energy Systems

During the course of construction, the Sexton Field was temporarily closed while a system of 60 borehole geo-exchange wells was dug. Now, this geo-exchange field provides a heat-source and heat-sink, as needed.

The Irving Oil Auditorium, now the largest room on the Sexton Campus, will be heated and cooled entirely by this geothermal exchange system, greatly reducing the carbon cost of maintaining an environment conducive to learning. Additionally, the geo-exchange field will be used to cool equipment in the Emera IDEA Building's laboratories and workshops.

Both the Emera IDEA Building and the Design Building have extensive solar energy systems on their rooftops. Local company Solar Global Solutions (SGS) installed over 450 solar modules across the two rooftops, allowing for the generation of 150kW of solar electricity to power the IDEA buildings.

This solar system is supplemented by a battery system, also courtesy of SGS, that will allow for peak shaving and eventually be incorporated as a teaching and research tool.

The rainwater cistern atop the Design Building can collect up to 25,000 litres of rainwater, which is subsequently used to flush the building's toilets. This system reduces the use of potable water from the city's systems for functions that do not require it, while reducing strain on existing stormwater systems. In the future, sampling valves will be added to allow for further research into stormwater diversion systems.

Green Roof and Green Corridor

The Design Building's rooftop features more than just a solar array and rainwater cistern: the building has an extensive green roof. The biomass of the green roof allows for improved biodiversity on the Sexton Campus, provides an additional heat sink, and further reduces the burden on stormwater systems. The green roof will provide excellent research opportunities to our faculty and students.

The outdoor infrastructure of the Sexton Campus has seen the addition of a green transportation corridor. Connecting Morris Street to Spring Garden Road, this green corridor further integrates the Sexton Campus into Halifax's downtown, and promotes active transportation that lessens the carbon impact of daily commuting.