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A new model for fighting climate change

Society urgently needs to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. Concordia is ready to act through a plan to decarbonize campuses and reduce energy consumption.

PLAN/NET ZERØ is also about creating knowledge through a living lab process that will empower students, researchers and industry leaders in their net-zero carbon projects. 

A new model for fighting climate change

Because the path to holistic campus decarbonization is uncharted, PLAN/NET ZERØ calls for experimentation. Concordia will find new ways to reduce overall energy consumption and transform the university into a living lab.

Researchers, students and industry leaders will have the opportunity to use the multifunction, public campus environment as a sandbox for exploration, co-creation and testing of new technologies and methods.

Why Concordia?

Research strengths: Electrification, IoT, batteries, cybersecurity and smart grid security, smart buildings and applied AI.    

Next-Gen Cities Institute: Unites more than 200 researchers and 14 research centres focused on today’s sustainability challenges.

A microcosm of a city: 51,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff work in 80 buildings across two campuses.

We can incubate green technologies: Our platforms such as District 3 and V1 Studio will support PLAN/NET ZERØ.

Concordia by the numbers

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GM Building pilot project

PLAN/NET ZERØ's pilot project will consist of a deep retrofit of the Guy-De Maisonneuve (GM) Building on the Sir George Williams Campus.

Working with industry collaborators, Concordia will carry out an extensive, holistic overhaul of the building's systems to reduce energy consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The pilot project will explore ways to measure energy efficiency and achieve net zero emissions.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are aiming for the lowest possible CO2 emissions, particularly for heating, electricity, transportation and purchasing. Setting quantifiable targets is part of the project itself and will be done in the coming months with research, industry, and technology collaborators.

It’s also worth noting that because of their varying age and activities, we may need building-by-building scenarios. The Facilities Management team will be responsible for setting targets.

Decarbonation can be complex and specific, so we need a long-term vision. Therefore, we are looking at a 10-year timeline with work done in phases. We understand that some people will see that timeline as ambitious for the type of innovations and changes we are targeting but we think objectives and collaborations will help move projects along at a reasonable pace. 

Successful GHG reductions, notably in our northern climate, are best achieved through a mix of solutions, tailored to specific buildings. Since there is no “one-size fits all” ideal, we will analyse and design the best energy transition scenarios building by building. Furthermore, because of the need to limit pressure on the overall hydroelectric grid, we’ll be seeking a diversity of solutions. 

Our overarching goal is to address climate change, something that requires research and innovation. PLAN/NET ZERØ will provide a model for researchers, students and industry leaders. Furthermore, we are looking at our campuses as a whole, not just the buildings. Finally, as in the case of other influential research, the intention is to share findings so that others can use our living lab project as a blueprint for their own transformations.

Though it’s too early in the project to get into the expected details, we don’t expect to intervene the same way across all our buildings. Some need significant work while others are already performing well and LEED certified. That’s one reason why PLAN/NET ZERØ considers the campuses in their integrity.

The focus of PLAN/NET ZERØ is to improve our existing spaces. If and when we do build something new, the findings and lessons of PLAN/NET ZERØ would be applied. 

Our strategy is to minimize carbon credit purchasing.

We hope so! Onsite energy generation is a way to make our campuses more resilient while also doing our part to avoid adding pressure on the grid. Therefore, we will consider it wherever feasible.

Aside from energy generation, we’ll be looking at energy storage, innovative control systems and other measures to optimize the systems.

Though we will seek to gather data as part of the research component of the project, we will abide by applicable laws that are already in place for privacy protection. We want to optimize our campuses while respecting our community’s comfort level and right to privacy. We will be transparent about any form of monitoring and seek community approval before implementing anything.

In addition to researchers, we’re looking for industry leaders with experience in technology-based, energy-saving retrofits. We will be providing them with a showcase opportunity at a time when jurisdictions across the globe are demanding this kind of work. By partnering with us, they will gain invaluable credibility, data and expertise that will serve their future projects.

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