Sheridan College creates a living laboratory

By Dale Hanscomb

With a commitment to optimizing campus-wide energy performance, Sheridan College turned to district heating and cooling as it built an expansive new trades teaching facility at its campus in Brampton, Ont., and even went so far as to incorporate the equipment into its training programs.

The Skilled Trades Centre (STC) provides in-school training for 1,500 apprentices and post-secondary students each year, preparing them for careers as plumbers, electricians, industrial mechanic millwrights, tool and die makers, welders and general machinists.

The three-storey, 130,000 sq. ft. building features 20 traditional classrooms and 52,000 sq. ft. of workshops with high ceilings and large overhead doors to accommodate the industrial equipment used in the curriculum. Special features include a three-storey atrium with skylights, rugged finishing on the exterior and two accessible roof areas for outside work.

The Faculty of Applied Science and Technology (FAST) wanted the teaching facility to serve as a “living laboratory” in which students and interdisciplinary experts could participate in new technologies and design strategies that respond to a changing world, technologies like the tri-generation energy centre that will eventually power all the buildings on the campus.

Did you know?

Sheridan College is in a seven-year drive to reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2020.


Project: Sheridan College Davis Campus Skilled Trades Centre

LOCATION: Brampton, Ont.


GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Giffels Constructors Inc.


MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR: Insight Engineering & Construction

RADIANT SUPPLIER/DESIGNER: Klimatrol Environmental Systems Ltd.

SIZE OF BUILDING: 130,000 sq. ft.


2 Tedom CPH units for cogeneration

2 JCI absorption chillers

2 JCI scroll chillers (electricity-driven)

4 EnerPro EPN/EPW stainless-steel

condensing boilers

SEMCO Pinnacle dedicated outdoor air system

Taco pumps

REHAU radiant heating/cooling and

snow/ice melting tubing


How tri-generation works

A tri-generation plant produces electricity, heat and cooling in a series of interconnected processes.

By generating electricity on site, using the waste heat to power heating and cooling systems, a tri-gen plant reduces energy consumption and provides a level of independence from the grid.

Each Tedom co-generation unit is paired with a JCI absorption chiller, producing enough heat to run the chiller in summer and the radiant heating in the winter. Multiple EnerPro boilers will provide supplemental heat when required. The JCI scroll chiller has a similar effect on the cooling system.

A pair of 13,200-gallon tanks hold heated and chilled water, storing energy that is not yet needed.

“We designed the system to provide the greatest amount of operational flexibility,” explains David Ng, vice-president of The Aquila Group, the project’s mechanical engineer of record. “The building operator is given numerous options to match the building’s instantaneous load with the optimal system operation.”

Designed to exceed

Every aspect of STC is designed with sustainability in mind. The building meets the environmental and functional performance requirements of LEED Gold standards for its overall siting, design and

construction. Energy performance at 32.2kBtu/ft2/yr is well below the consumption of typical LEED Gold buildings.

The challenge of maintaining comfortable temperatures in a structure with such high ceilings made it a good candidate for radiant.

“The workshop’s double-height configuration makes it especially applicable to use the in-floor radiant heating and cooling because we could essentially heat or cool only the occupied area – the first five to six feet – and maintain a lower overall indoor temperature while retaining comfort in the space,” says Ng.

The radiant system uses low-temperature heating and high-temperature cooling to achieve the aggressive energy target.

“Radiant is very good at dealing with sensible loads and DOAS is very good at dealing with latent loads,” adds REHAU’s Ryan Westlund. “It just takes a little more planning to integrate the two systems for a best-of-both solution.”

Optimizing performance

Hydronic radiant is the primary heating/cooling source, allowing the amount of ductwork and rooftop air handlers to be minimized. This is particularly beneficial in a design where structures and building systems are exposed. A dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS), with a passive desicant wheel, was installed for fresh air ventilation and humidity control.

While hydronic radiant systems can be served by a two-pipe design, STC used a four-pipe design with separate circuits that can simultaneously serve different parts of the campus with heating or cooling.

“Flexibility is the key word in this HVAC system design,” say Ng. “We gave facility management a lot of options for running at the lowest operating cost and adapting to changing requirements on the campus.”

To address the risk of condensation, the floors near overhead doors were separately zoned so cooling can be turned off when the doors are opened. Air curtains were installed to prevent conditioned air from flowing out, maintaining occupant comfort. Six dew point sensors were strategically located throughout the STC building to monitor the automated system and keep the humidity in check.

The facility also employs hydronic technology outdoors in a snow and ice melting (SIM) system that is installed under the perimeter sidewalks and the receiving dock where the welding tanks and specialty gas are delivered.