Donadeo building gets LEED Gold

Design saves resources in innovative ways to earn gold in world’s most widely-used green building rating system.


Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering opened in 2015.

Originally published July 25, 2017.

The Donadeo Innovation Centre for Engineering has received LEED® Gold certification in recognition of its exceptional environmental and energy-saving design.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design™, is a third-party certification system for buildings designed to be environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and healthy. Solar panels, low-flow washroom fixtures, and chilled beam temperature control all contributed to the Donadeo building’s certification.

“From the outset, we wanted to be sure this building had the smallest possible impact on the environment and would be at the leading edge of building design and efficiency,” said Fraser Forbes, dean of engineering.

Right from the drawing board, the building had environmental innovation in its DNA. In order to avoid any loss of campus green space, the Faculty of Engineering opted to squeeze the 14-storey facility into a 16-metre-wide parking lot between two existing structures. To accomplish this, the building’s upper floors would cantilever out over Windsor Car Park and it would be tied to the hip of the older Chemical & Material Engineering Building. (Three renovated floors of CMEB have also earned LEED Gold certification.)

Planning and construction was conceived and led by former dean David Lynch. While sharing a cab, Lynch turned to DIALOG engineer Jeff De Batista and asked if anyone had ever built an office building on stilts.

From that basic vision of a compact, vertical tower, the planners found ways to save even more natural resources. The limestone façade uses Tyndall Stone panels rescued when Enterprise Square was renovated in the early 2000s. Inside the Donadeo building, many features of the steel superstructure are exposed (instead of covering it up with drywall) thanks to a special dual-fallback sprinkler system. During construction, 80 per cent of construction and demolition waste was recycled. Furthermore, 18 per cent of new construction materials (including reinforcing steel, concrete, insulation, plywood and drywall) were manufactured within 1,100 km of Edmonton, minimizing transportation and supporting Canadian and U.S. businesses.

Lynch ensured that even materials like paint and floor coverings were responsibly sourced. Only paints and carpeting with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions were selected, to ensure the well-being of the faculty, staff and students who occupy the building. Earlier this year, the faculty instituted a scent-free policy to further ensure a healthy work environment.

42 per cent more energy-efficient by design

Many of the Donadeo building’s energy-saving features are right out there, visible to all. Heating and cooling is decoupled from ventilation, and is provided using more efficient chilled beam technology in the ceilings. Using energy-efficient LEDs with daylight and occupancy sensors, 60 per cent less electricity is needed for lighting. When they go into operation, solar panels on the Donadeo and CME buildings’ roofs will provide 5 per cent of the building’s electricity.

Together, these features contribute to the building’s design being 42 per cent more energy-efficient than a standard reference building.

“These efficiencies are important primarily to our environment, but they also demonstrate leading-edge engineering and technology. The Donadeo building is emblematic of our Faculty of Engineering,” said Forbes.

Completion of the Donadeo building capped off an incredible 20-year period of growth for the Faculty of Engineering, which added more than 90,000 m2 of teaching and research space. In 2015, the Donadeo building added more than 27,000 m2 of exceptional work and study space. The building houses most of the faculty’s professors, the Engineering Co-op program, administrators and support staff, and outreach programs.

“It was a legacy project of Dean Lynch’s,” said Forbes. “It is the culmination of all the work he did — it brought the whole faculty together under one roof.”

The building was named by engineering alumnus Lorenzo Donadeo in honour of his parents, who emigrated to Canada in the early 1950s and instilled in their children the value of education.

Want to discover more of the Donadeo building’s hidden green features? Learn more, or book a walking tour of the building:

Written by Trevor Chow-Fraser for the University of Alberta’s Office of Sustainability. Originally published on



University of Alberta — Sustainability

Meet the students and academics who are discovering solutions to our climate and sustainability challenges. Writing from Edmonton-Amiskwacîwâskahikan, Canada.