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GOLD for École Polytechnique de Montréal's new "green" buildings - A tangible response to the challenge of climate change

It's official: École Polytechnique de Montréal's new "green" buildings, the Claudette-MacKay-Lassonde and Pierre-Lassonde buildings, have received Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This makes École Polytechnique the first university institution in Canada to obtain international LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the USGBC. The energy performance of the Lassonde buildings -- training grounds for tomorrow's engineers -- is 60% better than the standard set by the Model National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings. Scoring 46 on the LEED points scale, the highest score ever obtained in Canada, the Lassonde buildings, which officially opened last month, have raised the bar in sustainable construction practices and in so doing, have paved the way to other similar initiatives.

November 30, 2005

Savings equivalent to the CO2  emissions from 20,000 cars
"Because we are conscious that in North America buildings alone generate one-third of CO2 emissions, the innovative practices adopted throughout the construction of the Lassonde buildings are our tangible response to the challenges posed by climate change," says Michel Rose, Director of Major Construction Projects at Polytechnique. "Based on the current Canadian average and a 40-year forecast horizon, our choices and energy efficiency alone mean savings equivalent to the CO2 generated by 20,000 cars throughout one year."

Mr. Rose added: "Notable among the various measures implemented to help reduce greenhouse gases are the extensive use of recycled materials and the fact that approximately 50% of the materials chosen were extracted and manufactured within 805 kilometres, thus reducing the emissions produced by transport. What's more, we are encouraging alternative modes of transportation by promoting public transit, bicycles, carpooling and even (by providing electrical outlets for recharging) the use of hybrid vehicles. Lastly, our energy consumption is optimized through building automation and commissioning."
Tangible measures to increase energy efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of construction
The LEED certification process that Polytechnique chose to undertake has numerous components: sustainable site management; water savings; energy efficiency and atmospheric preservation; the use and re-use of materials and resources; interior environment quality; and innovation.

Among the distinctive features of the Lassonde buildings are the recycling of heat from the chimneys of adjacent facilities to generate two-thirds of the heating for the new buildings; the use of HFC-134a in mechanical systems to minimize damage to the ozone; BACnet control systems that allow energy and water needs to be constantly monitored; interior sensors that automatically shut off lights and air conditioning in peripheral areas; energy-efficient lighting; the use of paint, coverings, furnishings and doors that emit little or no volatile organic compounds or urea formaldehyde; the recovery of 82% of construction waste; a "green roof" composed of grass and white stone; and the collection of rainwater and drainage water for re-use in the sanitation system, leading to a 92% reduction in the consumption of drinking water.

Polytechnique leads the way
The Lassonde buildings construction site was the first in Québec to adopt the USGBC-LEED evaluation system. Though the team may not have contained any one LEED-certified member at the start of the project, many of the professionals who participated have acquired certification since. And in the wake of the Lassonde buildings, other Canadian universities are falling into step and choosing to build "green."

Multiple-award-winning buildings
In January 2004, before work on the Claudette-MacKay-Lassonde and Pierre-Lassonde buildings was even complete, the architectural project received Canadian Architect magazine's Award of Merit. In October 2004, École Polytechnique received a Pilier d'or from the Association des gestionnaires de parcs immobiliers institutionnels (AGPI), coming first in the "Technical Merit and Innovation" category. Just recently, the project was honoured with the Trophée Contech 2005 in the "Innovative Practice in Sustainable Development" category. 
Primary firms involved in the Lassonde building construction project 

  • Architecture: Saia et Barbarese architectes / Desnoyers Mercure et associés / Menkès Shooner Dagenais architectes
  • Mechanical and electrical engineering: Bouthillette Parizeau et associés inc. / Pageau Morel et associés inc.
  • Civil and structural engineering: Pasquin St-Jean et associés

Founded in 1873, École Polytechnique de Montréal is one of Canada's top engineering teaching and research institutions and first in Québec for the size of its student body and the scope of its research activities. Polytechnique offers courses and programs in 11 engineering specialties and conducts nearly one-quarter of university engineering research in Québec. The school has 220 professors, nearly 6,000 students and an annual operating budget of $85 million, in addition to a $66.7-million-dollar annual research and infrastructure fund. Polytechnique is affiliated with Université de Montréal.


Chantal Cantin
Communications and Public Relations Office
École Polytechnique de Montréal
Tel.: (514) 340-4711, ext. 4970

Photos of the Lassonde buildings may be downloaded from the following FTP site:


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