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Lakehead University - LEED Platinum Academic Building

By: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

New LEED Platinum Academic Building, Lakehead University


Project Name:
Lakehead University - LEED Platinum Academic Building

Project Owners:
Lakehead University

Project Location:
Orillia, Ontario

Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Project Completion Date:
September 2010

Project Site:
Previously undeveloped land 

Project Type:
Higher education

Project Type Context/Setting:

Lot Size:
8.51 ha (Phase 1)

Building Gross Floor Area:
7,360 m2 / 79,000 sq ft

Total Project Cost (Land Excluded):
$32.5 million

Building Occupancy:

Lakehead University’s LEED Platinum Academic Building anchors the new Orillia Campus and established planning, design and sustainability standards for future campus development. The student-focused design centres upon the learning commons: the open, airy and welcoming space attracts students and promotes social interaction and collaboration. Flexible and adaptable interior planning (“Loose-Fit” and “Future-Proof”™ design) allows efficient and cost-effective expansion and reconfiguration, while durable and attractive materials and finishes age gracefully and reduce maintenance costs. Multi-disciplinary program spaces include a learning commons and library, informal individual and group study areas, technology-enabled classrooms, specialized computer labs, faculty and administrative offices, student support services and a café and event spaces. The building is registered LEED Platinum (certification pending) and received a 2011 Design Excellence Award from the Ontario Association of Architects.


Double height study space.


The LEED Platinum Academic Building is Lakehead University’s inaugural building on their new Orillia Campus. A key goal of the university was for the building to achieve LEED Platinum certification as the benchmark for the future development of a fully LEED Platinum campus. To fulfill Lakehead’s intentions, we led a series of integrated sustainable design workshops involving all design disciplines and university representatives. Based on computer models, we assessed the building from first principles as an interdependent whole, using LEED criteria as generators of design and optimizing the synergies between the building’s passive elements and active systems. Full-life costing determined the payback periods and the relative cost-effectiveness of potential design options. A series of reviews during the design process and rigorous contract administration ensured the sustainable design requirements were maintained through to the completion of construction and handover. 

 Our sustainable-design strategies for Lakehead University’s LEED Platinum Academic Building included:

  • Green roofs
  • Geothermal heating and cooling system 
  • High-performance building envelope 
  • Highly insular and spectrally sensitive glass reduces solar gains while maintaining daylight transmission 
  • High-performance dual-duct HVAC system with occupancy sensors and individual controls
  • High-efficiency lighting systems with occupancy and daylight sensors
  • Low-flow water fixtures
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Natural ventilation
  • Low-VOC/UF-free interior materials and finishes
  • Stormwater capture and bioremediation for non-potable uses
  • Drought-tolerant landscape of low-maintenance native plants that require no irrigation
  • Secure bicycle storage areas and shower/changeroom facilities
  • Regionally-sourced building materials
  • Recycled building materials
  • Diversion of construction waste
  • Carpool parking spaces in prime locations
  • Negotiation of extended transit service to campus
  • Implementation of a rigorous commissioning plan.

Sustainability results achieved to date include:

  • LEED Platinum registered; certification pending
  • 35% reduction of total utility costs (water, electricity, natural gas) compared to a baseline non-LEED building
  • 34% reduction of electricity use
  • 61% reduction of potable water use for interior fixtures
  • 100% reduction of potable water use for irrigation
  • 80% reduction of suspended solids and 40% reduction of phosphorous by the stormwater capture and bioremediation pond
  • 90% daylighting of occupied areas
  • 56% of building materials regionally extracted and manufactured
  • 30% of building materials contain recycled content
  • 78% diversion of construction waste.





Stormwater Retention and Bioremediation Pond—Surface water is filtered by an oil grit separator (OGS) to remove particulate, oils and heavy metals before being cleansed and oxygenated by the plant material and gravel in the bioremediation pond. Harvesting greywater for non-potable uses cuts the use of potable water for interior fixtures by 61% and irrigation by 100%. Stormwater run-off is maintained at the level prior to the development of the site.


 Interior study space and main circulation thoroughfare.


Dual Duct Dedicated Outdoor Air VAV System—The HVAC system utilizes two parallel air distribution systems: one for outdoor fresh air only and one for heated and cooled air. This split system maintains a high level of indoor air quality and increases energy efficiency by providing heated or cooled air only when necessary. 

Diagram source:


Geothermal Heating and Cooling—Energy consumption is further reduced by a geothermal heating and cooling system. Heat pumps draw upon a geothermal field of 125 boreholes at a depth of 300 feet, supplementing the ground temperatures with additional heating or cooling as required. This system provides 90% of the building’s heating and cooling requirements.



Design Architect:
Moriyama & Teshima Architects 

Energy/Climate Engineers:
Enermodal Engineering

General Contractor:

Landscape Architect:
Moriyama & Teshima Planners

Civil Engineer:
C.C. Tatham Engineering

Electrical / Mechanical Engineer:
Crossey Engineering 

Total Project Cost (Land Excluded):
$32.5 million

Structural Engineer:
Halcrow Yolles

Interior Design:
Moriyama & Teshima Architects 

Lakehead University

Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. 

Leber Rubes Inc.

Quantity Surveyor:
A.W. Hooker Associates Ltd.