Journal of Commerce by ConstructConnect | September 11, 2023
Danielle Arciaga | Building Performance Engineer

A team of five multitalented scholars from Simon Fraser University (SFU) has been named the winner of a Canada Green Building Council award for students for demonstrating excellence in sustainable design in the field of green building and communities. 

“The team of Gurvaani Dhani, Manin Khunger, Simran Pandher and Clara Park, led by team leader Danielle Arciaga, are the winners of the CaGBC’s Andy Kesteloo Memorial Project Award, named for a dedicated green building advocate.

The students are recent graduates of SFU’s Sustainable Energy Engineering program. The project was titled Deep Retrofit Study for SFU – Exploring Energy Conservation Measures and proposed a plan for the decarbonization of the Discovery 1 Building at SFU’s Burnaby, B.C. campus.

Arciaga recalled when she got the call they had won.

“It was really exciting when we got the news,” she said. “The news spread throughout the office, and in our other friends’ office too, so that was really exciting.”

The project fit with the university’s 2025 Sustainability Plan and consisted of a study of energy conservations measures (ECM) that considered the building’s mechanical system, lighting system, building envelope, onsite renewable energy generation and building automation. Various methods were considered to reduce the energy demand, such as occupant awareness, continuous commissioning of the building and efficient mechanical systems.

A model was created to assess the ECM recommendations along with a climate risk assessment for further plans to improve the performance of the building.

Arciaga explained the team focused on three types of retrofits after originally reviewing 14. A matrix was used to decide on the most feasible, “bang for buck” retrofit, she said.

“We ended up focusing on the building envelope, the building windows and the mechanical system. We saw that there were opportunities there to improve the building performance by updating the windows and envelope and also upgrading some of the mechanical systems to move away from fossil fuels like natural gas, and then switching to electricity.”

The project stemmed from the students’ obligation to undertake a capstone project to fulfill their degree requirements. The students, all in the same year in the relatively new faculty, were all friends who worked together well.

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