Building a Net-Zero Future

Mohawk College Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation

Project Photos

The new Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation at Mohawk College’s Fennel Campus in Ontario is one of the region’s first net-zero energy institutional buildings. Students are greeted by solar-powered state-of-the-art labs, workshops, open study spaces and a lecture theatre, creating a new paradigm for sustainable building and learning in North America.

A joint venture partnership with B+H + mcCallumSather, the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation is a national and global pilot project. The building will help determine the requirements and standards for the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Buildings Framework and contribute to the World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) “Advancing Net Zero,” a global project which aims to ensure that all buildings are net zero carbon by 2050.

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To navigate the pursuit of a Net Zero energy building, B+H + mcCallumSather upended the typical design process, rooting their design in the development of an energy budget. The energy budget accounted for the eventual uses of the building, accounting for lab equipment, a targeted use of mechanical systems and an allowance for unregulated loads such as laptops. With the budget in place, a clear roadmap was established to inform each component of the design, from the building’s orientation and material pallet, to the mechanical needs and photo-voltaic targets—the latter of which informs the most iconic part of the Joyce Centre’s design.

The pursuit of the elusive net-zero energy threshold spurred innovation throughout the project, including the development of an innovative curtain wall system with an effective R20 thermal performance. Standard design can be one of the biggest impediments to sustainable performance currently in that highly conductive materials used in curtain walls are like an energy sieve.

“We believe employers will be looking to significantly boost their understanding of carbon-neutral technologies and operations due to provincial mandates. The Joyce Centre will allow us to become a knowledge centre for this emerging point of emphasis. We aren’t just building a centre to house new lab space, in many ways we’re building the lab itself.” ~ Mohawk Collage Chief Building and Facilities Officer, Tony Cupido

Interiors are drenched in sunlight and offer flexible learning and collaborative spaces for staff and students. A large atria flows into modular classrooms organized around a central common area encouraging social learning. Robust materials are juxtaposed against warmer elements like wood, glass and stone tile to create a rich, inviting palette. In a region known for its steel production, the achievement of the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation aligns with a new vision for the re-emerging city of Hamilton.

“The building is an incredibly powerful symbol for the city and the region as it continues to evolve into a healthcare and educational hub,” said McCallum. “It’s reflective of current and future trends in sustainability and pedagogy and demonstrates leadership in a meaningful way, proving the public sector can drive change.”