Interweaving sustainability, learning, and culture at Mohawk College

The atrium will serve as a central organizer, gathering the large numbers of students from the classrooms into a circulation and social hub.

Facilitating the understanding of the human/energy ecology
Mohawk College’s Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation will create a new paradigm for sustainable building and learning in North America. It underscores a cultural shift in design where occupant behaviour migrates from open, unrestricted energy consumption to personal accountability for carbon footprint.

The building will make users aware of the energy they are consuming and encourage them to consciously change their behaviour—such as charging laptops and mobile devices at home instead of constantly plugging them into the facility’s infrastructure. The emphasis on providing building performance feedback to the occupants builds a culture of awareness, whereby energy is no longer abstract. Through extensive systems metering and real-time data streaming analysis, they will have the ability to observe the temperature, humidity, ventilation rates, thermal distribution, lighting performance, and occupancy status, in addition to other key building performance metrics.

The building itself will also serve as a teaching tool. Students, through capstone or research projects, will have the opportunity to manage the operations of the building. They will learn first-hand the importance of operations and occupancy on building performance.

The net-zero-energy design of the Joyce Centre aligns with a new vision for the re-emerging city of Hamilton as an educational and healthcare hub. Innovative in its approach and iconic in its design, the facility both marks the beginning of a transformation for the region and bolsters the evolution of truly sustainable design.

The project leadership behind Mohawk College’s Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation understands the importance of buildings with respect to the health of the atmosphere (e.g. greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions and air pollution), as well as the responsibility to push for positive change.

According to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) “2015/2016 Annual Report,” buildings account for more than 30 per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and use about 14 per cent of the world’s potable water.* Considering the influence the built environment has on personal health and
well-being, incorporating advanced sustainable design into buildings is of critical importance. However, it also makes strong economic sense. In 2014, Canada’s green building industry generated $23.45 billion in GDP and supported 297,890 jobs.**

As Canada continues to strategically position itself as a leader in sustainable building and construction, it is making a remarkable investment in its future. The Post-secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) will see up to $2 billion invested in improving the quality and lifespan of Canada’s college and university buildings. Along with the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC’s) commitment to developing a net-zero verification program and support of the WorldGBC’s goals that all new buildings are constructed to be net-zero by 2030 and all buildings achieve net-zero by 2050, the country’s progressive stance on building solutions to mitigate climate change presents incredible opportunities for designers and architects to advance the culture of sustainable design.

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Kevin Stelzer, OAA, NLAA, MRAIC, BSSO, LEED AP, is a principal at B+H Architects, focusing on laboratory, retrofit/renewal, commercial, and educational building types across North America, the Middle East, and Asia. He studied architecture at the University of Waterloo and building science at the University of Toronto. A licensed architect and Building Science Specialist of Ontario (BSSO), Stelzer served on the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) Energy & Engineering Technical Advisory Group and on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Buildings & Climate Initiative Task Force. He can be reached via e-mail at

Joanne McCallum, OAA, FRAIC, LEED AP, is the director and co-founder of mcCallumSather. For 21 years, she has provided direction, oversight, and mentoring, building a thriving integrated design firm in Hamilton. McCallum was an early pioneer of the integrated design process and national speaker on the topic of sustainable design, including recent presentations at the CaGBC National Conference. She can be reached at

Tony Cupido, PhD, is a broad-based engineering and operations senior professional with over 35 years of experience in facilities management and sustainability. He has considerable institutional experience, particularly with both Hamilton school districts, McMaster University, and now Mohawk College where he is chief building and facilities officer. Cupido has facilitated the planning, design, construction, and operation of building projects totalling $750 million. He has a doctorate in civil engineering with a focus on green buildings and policy and is a former adjunct faculty member at McMaster. Cupido can be reached via e-mail at

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