A future of community and sustainability for the Faculty of Health Sciences

Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Young woman wearing a nurse's uniform in a medical facility.

Health sciences professionals are at the heart of our communities. They devote their lives to strengthening our collective well-being and improving our quality of life by tending to our physical and mental health, treating our diseases and injuries, and caring for our most vulnerable populations.

For researchers and practitioners in the field, a crucial part of the job is remaining at the forefront of knowledge and keeping up with society’s evolving healthcare needs and practices.

That’s why the University of Ottawa is modernizing campus buildings to meet the needs of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

In early 2022, the Schools of Nursing, Nutrition Sciences and Rehabilitation Sciences will relocate to the River Precinct at 200 Lees Avenue, so called because of its 15 acres of land bounded by the Rideau River, the Queensway and Lees Avenue.

But before moving in, the five buildings at 200 Lees will undergo major retrofits, including a pedestrian link to the Lees LRT station, which will have a tremendous impact on students, staff and the environment.

Working better, together

The new and improved Precinct will host a suite of cutting-edge facilities, including state-of-the-art wet labs, modernized teaching and research spaces, collaborative workstations for both students and staff, and open-concept common areas—all designed to strengthen uOttawa’s Health Sciences community and enhance its capacity for research.

The new site will also have a learning resources centre, athletics and recreation facilities, and cafeterias serving fresh, sustainably produced food options.

These quality learning environments and team-based workspaces will bring the Faculty of Health Sciences closer together, creating a sense of place and community for its new occupants, encouraging collaboration and interdisciplinarity, and enhancing the overall student and staff experience.

The changes will help the Faculty overcome acute issues in program scheduling that require students to travel from campus to campus to attend classes.

"This project is an important part of uOttawa’s ongoing commitment to improving our teaching and research facilities," says Vice-President, Research, Sylvain Charbonneau. "As with recent projects, such as the construction of the STEM building, we are planning ahead to minimize disruptions to researchers and their work as we carry out these changes.”

Sustainability is key

The existing buildings and infrastructure at 200 Lees Avenue will receive major mechanical, electrical and architectural upgrades that will go a long way toward reducing the University’s carbon footprint.

For starters, the Precinct will be equipped with smart-building technology, including sensors and automated features, that will help significantly reduce energy consumption. In fact, these retrofits will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent.

New state-of-the-art ventilation systems will be installed to improve indoor air quality, as well as bird-friendly glass on all windows and doors to help prevent unwanted bird collisions. Did you know that 25 million birds are killed each year in Canada from accidently flying into glass windows? By installing reflection-free glass or adding stickers to the windows, the Precinct will be doing its part to reduce those numbers.

Trees, pollinator plants and shrubbery will also be planted around the River Precinct to green up the campus. The new cafeterias will all have Green Restaurant Certification and serve fresh, locally procured food prepared on-site, and the School of Nutrition Sciences will have access to raised garden beds—integrating agriculture into the urban landscape and reclaiming industrial land for productive, sustainable uses.

Shovels are expected to be in the ground by September 2020.

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