Building the University of tomorrow: smart building coming to uOttawa

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2021

Author: Paige Maskell, Digital Communications Officer

University of Ottawa Atrium

You arrive on campus, coffee in hand, ready to tackle the day. You type a code into a keypad at the front door, allowing you access to the building. As you enter, the lights above your head turn on as you pass under them. You enter your office, which lights up in a cheery good morning as you open the door using another code on a keypad. The temperature in the room is cold upon entering, likely due to the chilly Ottawa winter outside, but heaters kick in the moment you step across the threshold to bring your office climate to an ideal temperature. Your office is alive, your building is smart, and it is enabling you to work more efficiently than ever. 

Intelligent buildings, or smart buildings, are developed to maximize a building’s efficiency while lowering both its operational costs and environmental impact. They provide illumination, thermal comfort, air quality, physical security, and sanitation over a building’s lifecycle. All this is done using information technology during operation to connect a variety of subsystems, which typically operate independently, so that these systems can share information to optimize total building performance. Smart buildings go far beyond saving energy and contribute to sustainability goals: they extend capital equipment life and impact the security and safety of all resources – both human and capital.  

“A smart building is something that responds to the people that are using the building – users, the general public – as well as its own infrastructure,” explains Geoffrey Frigon, Senior Director of Asset Management, Planning and Real Estate. “A smart building is responsive to climate, user needs, and to itself. With respect to climate, a smart building knows exterior and interior weather, and the number of people in the building, and automatically changes its temperature. The building adjusts itself based on how it’s being used.” 

uOttawa plans to implement a smart building at 200 Lees as a pilot project, with construction estimated to be completed by the end of August 2023. This smart building will also include the ability to automatically collect data from medical equipment in various rooms, and funnel that data to the right people at the right time. Frigon believes that this new building at 200 Lees will be a good pilot project and will lead to the construction of many more smart buildings on campus. “With its success - and we know it’ll be successful - we plan to adopt the pilot campus-wide in our new builds, and I think this will give a better experience for the student, the researcher, and administration.” 

The smart building pilot project is a partnership between facilities and Information Technology in addition to partners on campus. This transformative initiative meets multiple objectives set out in Transformation 2030 and the Digital Campus Transformation Plan while helping the University meet its aspirations to build the university of tomorrow. More agile, connected, sustainable and impactful; smart buildings not only deliver a modernized university environment, they also offer space to learn, teach, discover and bring ideas to life. 


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