Perimeter's Stephen Hawking Centre gains LEED Silver status

Efforts to reduce environmental impact put Perimeter Institute in elite company.

When people walk into the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute, they often pause and gaze up. Above them soars a conjunction of diagonals, dazzlingly lit by brilliant sunshine.
That moment of grace now holds an even deeper note: the Centre has been certified LEED Silver for its environmental design and operation.
Perimeter Facilities Manager Brian Lasher says the designation was achieved through an independent review of the green building design and construction practices, by the Canadian Green Building Council.
It demonstrates Perimeter’s ongoing dedication to excellence in all spheres, he says.
“This is a big accomplishment,” Lasher said, while sitting in his sunlight-filled office. “I’m really happy with the measures we took. From the design process to our day-to-day operations, this shows our commitment to the environment.”
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system takes into account everything from design and construction to waste management, energy use, and plant selection for gardens.
The Stephen Hawking Centre was designed by Toronto-based Teeple Architects, and was supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation, and private donors.
Made up of a carefully curated array of private places and collaborative spaces, the facility opened in 2011 and won a 2012 Design Excellence Award from the Ontario Association of Architects.
Perimeter's original building won the William G. Dailey Award of Excellence – Urban Design from the City of Waterloo among other awards.
Perimeter decided to pursue LEED certification when it started planning the Centre, an addition that doubled the size of the existing Institute on Caroline Street North in Waterloo, Ontario.
The new construction was built using locally sourced materials, prioritized energy conservation measures such as green roofs, and features irrigation-free gardens and grounds planted with native species.
“It was a team effort,” Lasher said. “Perimeter’s green design team – Teeple Architects, Enermodal, and Ball Construction – were all instrumental in obtaining every LEED evaluation point.”
“It cost us money, but those costs were very short-term,” he added. “We doubled our space, but our utility bills have only gone up 30 percent. That’s incredible.”
The certification will be recognized by a plaque to be installed on-site in the coming weeks.
Some of the features that helped seal the LEED Silver certification include:
  • Construction: More than 90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, over 15 percent of construction materials contained recycled content, and 30 percent of materials were regionally manufactured and extracted.
  • Energy performance: The Centre uses 42 percent less energy than a comparable building. 
  • Air qualityLow-VOC materials were used throughout the building, complemented by CFC-free HVAC systems. 
  • Lighting: Automatic controls throughout the building turn off non-emergency lighting after business hours, as well as when a room has been vacant for 30 minutes. Exterior lighting is positioned to reduce light pollution.
  • Green roof: Almost 75 percent of the Centre’s roof is high-albedo (which means it is reflective, helping to reduce heat transfer to the building) and/or green.
  • Transit: The Institute is located close to public transport, with parking racks for more than 60 bicycles.
  • Landscaping: There is no permanent irrigation on site. Native species of plant and grass are used throughout the grounds, and grass is allowed to go dormant during summer.
  • Recycling: Recycling stations are located throughout the building.
– Tenille Bonoguore

About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

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The Stephen Hawking Centre was built using locally sourced materials and uses 42 percent less energy than a comparable building.