The University of Calgary High Density Library

In the fall of 2016, The University of Calgary commenced an expansion of the University’s High-Density Library (HDL). Located on the University’s Spy Hill Campus, the HDL is an environmentally controlled storage facility for older and less commonly used books, print journal subscriptions, and museum artifacts. The benefit of an HDL is that a large quantity of materials can be stored in a relatively small space. Advanced mobile shelving solutions and a sophisticated identification and retrieval system helped to utilize the space to its fullest potential. The expansion of the HDL has further freed up much-needed space in the University’s existing Taylor Family Digital Library.

Williams Engineering (WE) was retained to provide mechanical and electrical engineering services for the design, tendering and construction phases of the project. The University’s primary objective for the HDL expansion was to achieve LEED® Gold status, all while still ensuring the stakeholder’s various needs and requirements were met.

Electrical system designs include standard power, emergency/standby power, telecommunications infrastructure, security systems, lighting, and building low-tension systems. The design included many LEED® and other sustainable design principles, such as:

  • An existing 400kW outdoor diesel generator was replaced with a 650kW unit, a new transfer switch was added to provide separate emergency power distribution branches for life-safety, non-life-safety and fire pump loads.
  • LED luminaires were designed throughout to ensure archives had no exposure to UV lights — lighting levels were modelled and designed to meet IES as well as U of C Design Standards.
  • Networked lighting control, including occupancy sensor/daylight sensor/vacancy switch, was implemented to provide flexible control and energy savings.
  • High-definition CCTV cameras and card access control systems were installed and networked back to the U of C Main Campus to achieve the building’s required security level.
  • Voice/data system entailed fibre optics & Cat6A cabling, wireless access points where required by user groups.
  • VOIP technology was used for the building’s telephone system.
  • An addressable fire alarm system was expanded. Fire alarm initiation and notification design met new Alberta Building Code 2014 requirements.

The facility includes an audio/visual preservation room that posed some unique challenges, which required an equally unique electrical solution. The lighting, power, telecom, and security systems designs for this room were carefully coordinated with the user group, architects and acoustics specialists: all electrical devices and conduit runs were meticulously detailed to achieve rigorous acoustic isolation requirements. To facilitate users’ different task mandates, a state-of-art lighting and control system was installed, giving users full control of dimming, lighting colour temperature selection, and re-group programming, all through a wireless controller. A dedicated UPS system and customized power distribution system were designed to provide only one power phase to the room to minimize interference on various audio/visual equipment.

The mobile shelving in the HDL expansion is another unique feature of the building. Dedicated power distribution was supplied to all ten meters of tall mobile shelving units and their accessories; provisions were considered for emergency operation should utility power outages occur. Fire alarm modules were integrated with the mobile shelving system so that under fire alarm conditions, the mobile shelving would enter fire mode automatically.

In pursuit of the LEED® Gold accreditation, our mechanical team incorporated the following into their design:

  • Water Conservation: Low-flow water closets not to exceed 4.8 litres per flush were used as well as lavatory and sink faucets not to exceed 1.9 litres per minute.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: Ventilation rates met the requirements of ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2013, and CO2 monitors were provided as required. As well, outdoor airflow was measured and monitored for all the AHUs.
  • Thermal Comfort: Individual occupants or groups were provided with space temperature control. ASHRAE Standard 55-2013 was used to identify the factors of thermal comfort in spaces to suit the needs of the occupants.
  • Measurement and Verification: Meters and devices were installed to measure and verify items consistent with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP).

This project was a Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) project, with funds provided by the Federal Government. This meant there was no room for delay in deliverables, as this would lead to missed funding. Design started in September 2016, and project construction was completed on schedule in April 2018. To mitigate the risk of delays, bi-weekly design meetings were established at the off-set of the project. Additionally, during the construction phase, regular meetings and discussions took place with the contractors on-site to facilitate and enhance communication and collaboration between all parties of the project team.

We have acknowledged that without an IQMS standard, disorganization, project inconsistency, loss of time, and dissatisfied clients can ensue. Conversely, the adoption of IQMS standards can lead to faster project production, consistency in the way we approach all our project initiatives, and increased customer satisfaction. The WEC team places precedence on ensuring that our clients experience the highest quality service before, during, and after the client’s projects are complete. In addition to WEC’s internal IQMS protocol, our delivery packages for the HDL expansion were filtered and reviewed by The University’s Campus Engineering Department, ensuring superior quality.

Overall, Williams Engineering rose to the challenge to meet the University’s objective by ensuring our design adhered to the requirements, which resulted in being awarded LEED® Gold Certification. The achievement is in recognition of the sustainability embedded in the design and construction of the project. WE remained flexible enough to meet the requirements of the various stakeholders and maintain proactive and open communication. The electrical information management and technology provided for this state-of-art high-density library building enhances the building’s functional, aesthetic and sustainable features. Furthermore, all parties of the design team attended a ‘lessons learned’ meeting chaired by the owner’s representatives providing us with valuable information and lessons that we will bring to our next project.