Photo of Student Lounge

New student space introduces new approach to sustainability

9 September 2015

By Dave Ross (Nursing) with Sarah Niedoba (Sustainability)

Since moving into 155 College Street in 2006, Bloomberg Nursing has worked hard to develop a plan to better utilize their new space.

Recently, these efforts have successfully turned an inefficient row of offices and cubicle spaces on the third floor of the building into a new student lounge.

Thanks to the combined efforts of electrical engineer Nicholas Chu, and architect Mohsen Mohammady, along with the University Planning, Design & Construction office, the new lounge features sweeping views over College Street and the Lassonde Mining Building across the way. In addition to a large kitchen, print stations, and vending machines, there are dedicated spaces for students to relax and work in. Overall, the space can be divided into three independent zones, so a seminar can be going on in one section while a yoga class happens in another.

But the real star of this renovation is its dedication to energy conservation. The lounge is equipped with a state of the art lighting system, providing a level of customization and intelligence around how energy is consumed. The Lutron lighting system has been deployed in numerous spaces on campus, but never before in this manner, due to the uniqueness of the space.

Here is how it works: Occupancy sensors in each of the three “zones” in the student space detect occupants using both motion and sound-sensing technologies. On entering the empty lounge, the system brings the lighting level to 25 per cent of maximum in the occupied areas of the lounge – enough light to find your coat on a winter evening, or heat your lunch. If no occupants are detected, the lights in that area will be extinguished. When dividing walls are closed to create independent spaces, the lighting system recognizes the change, and lighting commands issued in that zone will affect only that area.

Lighting controls are also integrated with the audio-visual controls. If the ceiling projector is activated for a presentation, lights around the projector and in front of the screen extinguish, while area lights dim to an appropriate level. In the future, the system will be capable of measuring the amount of natural light in the room, dimming the overhead lighting as necessary to reduce wasted energy consumption. All of these capabilities are paired with the latest in dimmable LED lighting fixtures, dramatically reducing the energy used to light the space without compromising occupant comfort.

This investment highlights how discrete changes add up to big savings, not just in energy costs, but in our environmental impact as well. This is just one more story that shows how our staff, faculty and students are working together to make the University of Toronto just a little bit greener.