By: Gabrielle McLaren

The Shrum chemistry building on SFU’s Burnaby campus was recently granted a gold rating in sustainability, making it one of the most energy efficient buildings on the Burnaby campus.  

The 50-year-old building went through intensive renovations which have been in the works since 2010 to achieve the certification. The upgrades include new systems to manage waste and water efficiency and reduction, and the adoption of green cleaning practices.  

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Rating is a certification by the Canada Green Building Council that is available in over 160 countries.  Buildings earn points out of a total score based on factors such as their materials and resources, innovation and design, or energy and water efficiency.

The renovations to the SFU chemistry laboratories also installed new fume hoods and upgraded insulation on the walls and roof to make the wing more environmentally sound. The renovations led to a total score of 40 out of 70. The chemistry wing is 12 points away from a platinum certification, the most distinguished of the LEED certifications.

According to Wendy Lee of SFU Facilities Services, one of the main difficulties faced during chemistry building renovations was that the Burnaby campus buildings are interconnected, meaning that renovating one often makes it necessary to renovate others.  

“Addressing multiple systems together can add cost, time, and complexity to the project,” Lee said. “However, advances in building science understanding and proven technologies combined with strong institutional learning can combine to make the best of the current renewal efforts.”  

The Shrum chemistry building is the first building on any of Simon Fraser University’s campuses to receive a gold certification.

University Highlands Elementary School in UniverCity received its certification in April 2015, and UBC has been boasting numerous certifications since 2005.  

However, buildings under construction on SFU campuses, such as the SFSS Student Union Building and the Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering building at the Surrey campus, are currently on track to receive a minimum of a gold certification, according to Lee.   

The Shrum chemistry wing’s recent certification will contribute to the university’s continued focus on reducing waste in energy through the implementation of the the university’s sustainability plan. The university is looking to accomplish these goals by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, institutionalizing green cleaning practices, and engaging the SFU community in energy conservation.    

Since 2002 when certifications became available in Canada, the Canada Green Building Council estimates that LEED-certified buildings have saved enough energy to power about 220,700 homes for a year, and have saved enough water to fill 5,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In 2008, the provincial government required that all new public buildings meet the equivalent of the LEED gold standard.

With files from SFU News.