Senior News Editor
The Engineering Technology Building (ETB) came as a new addition to the McMaster campus last year, and as the Faculty of Engineering continues to grow, it is now spearheading another campus construction project – the ExCEL building.
The new building aims to exhibit sustainable technologies and provide space for numerous student groups and projects through the Faculty of Engineering, while maintaining a net-zero energy rating, a concept relatively new to building design.
The McMaster Engineering Society will be holding a related referendum in March along with the Society’s presidential elections. The vote will gauge student support of a levy to fund the construction of the building.
The annual levy will be $50 for undergraduate Engineering students and $30 for graduate students in the Faculty, explained Kelton Friedrich, a current Masters in Engineering student and ExCEL Project Coordinator. The impact and use of the building will be more concentrated at the undergraduate than graduate level, he explained.
Significant government funding has been allocated to the ETB project, “so government funding will support the green initiatives implemented in the [ExCEL] building, but not the construction,” said Friedrich.
And to guarantee benefit to all students contributing to the building, the levy, if approved, will not be implemented until all of the funding is secured and construction is set to begin, he explained.
The levy will be implemented for a period of ten years, and while students will contribute financially to the project, consultations on the design and planning for the building are to be conducted by undergraduate Engineering students, and student involvement is expected to continue once the building is completed as well.
The funds raised by the student levy are expected to provide approximately 30 per cent of the total capital required, while additional funding will be sought from external sources, such as alumni donations and government funding.
The building is estimated to cost between $7 million and $8 million.
If all things follow the expected timeline, McMaster University may see the new “living laboratory” by 2015. The new building is expected to be a branch of the John Hodgins Engineering Building, facing the Psychology Building.
When ETB was built, the intention was to include the student space needed by the Faculty and Engineering student clubs.
Due to funding limitations in the Faculty of Engineering, the remaining funds needed to complete the construction of ETB came from the Bachelor of Technology program, which now houses its activities in the building.
The issue of inadequate student space for engineering student groups remains an unresolved issue.
The new building, estimated to be approximately 20,000 sq. ft. – much smaller than ETB – will, by virtue of its size and sustainable technologies, be much less expensive, explained Friedrich.
The need for student space for Engineering projects and clubs was recognized by the Dean of Engineering, David Wilkinson, who proposed the construction of another space, while asserting a belief in the need to engage students in the process.
After proposing the idea to students in 2010, several approached him in support, and momentum on the project began.
As part of the capstone project completed by all senior Engineering students, the opportunity to contribute ideas and a sustainable plan of action was presented.
Numerous considerations were addressed by students in the Engineering and Management program, Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering.
The planning for the building has employed an Integrated Design, which describes the use of student input to design a student space.
“Often, following construction of a building, many changes need to be made, as the space does not work for the people using it,” said Friedrich, explaining that the approach implemented in the constrcution of the ExCEL building bypasses that possibility entirely.
While student input has already begun with respect to the planning of the building, it is expected to continue after the building has been constructed through the Sustainable Building Operations Club, which will monitor the building’s energy usage and analyze the data.