Federal labour minister tours George Brown College’s new mass timber building

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Seamus O’Regan, federal minister of labour, toured Limberlost Place, George Brown College’s exciting new mass timber, net zero carbon emissions building, currently under construction at Waterfront Campus.

It was an opportunity to showcase the building and share how George Brown College, one of Ontario’s leading providers of apprenticeship and skilled trades training, is helping the industry address current labour shortages.

O’Regan spoke with Dr. Gervan Fearon, president of George Brown College, about how the college’s various trade-related academic and apprenticeship programs, coupled with collaborative relationships with government and employers, help deliver qualified graduates who are workforce-ready.

George Brown’s Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies (CCET) provides students with training, technical expertise, and field placements, while the college’s Industry Liaison Office connects students and graduates with employers who are actively recruiting.

Limberlost Place is set to be the first mass timber, net zero carbon emissions institutional building of its kind in Ontario and will open its doors to students in January 2025.

Limberlost Place is years ahead of Toronto’s 2030 goals for sustainable design and performance for new developments, and it has become a global model for mass timber sustainable construction. Built with made-in-Canada mass-timber components, the design provides generous spaces focused on well-being by maximizing access to natural light and fresh air.

Students will learn in and from this flexible and future-proof facility, equipped with networked and adaptable smart building systems designed to adjust to changing academic uses.

The campus will be the new home of the School of Architectural Studies, the School of Computer Technology, and the Brookfield Sustainability Institute (BSI), a community learning hub dedicated to research and innovation around sustainability. Limberlost Place will also house a childcare centre that will serve the community.

Addressing climate change and promoting innovation, the building has attracted Canadian and international recognition for its design excellence and innovation.

The building will harness green energy from the surrounding environment, including Lake Ontario. Two solar chimneys, the engines of the passive ventilation system, will draw air up and through the building from operable windows. The design also features a 40 per cent window-to-wall ratio, and the building will be outfitted with smart daylight sensors and dimming controls.

Limberlost Place will be able to operate passively 50 per cent of the year and will run with no fuel-fired systems. Electric systems are more energy efficient and represent a cleaner form of energy consumption than natural gas.

A roof-mounted solar array will generate 24 per cent of Limberlost Place’s energy consumption to offset GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions generated in the electricity grid.

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