By: Mike Timmermans

Michael Tremblay addresses donors in the ACCE at a gala celebrating donations. Algonquin recently unveiled its new donor wall at the ACCE building.


The Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence has a brand new donor wall recognizing the financial contributions that made its construction possible.

This unique facility was built with the involvement of all levels of government and with donations by some of Ottawa’s most prolific building and construction companies.

The Algonquin College Foundation hosted a gala to honour these contributions on March 7 in the Minto Hall atrium of the ACCE in support of the foundation’s Constructing OUR Future campaign. The event culminated in the unveiling of the new donor wall and was also an occasion to celebrate the facility’s recent Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification.

“The donor reception is to pay tribute to and thank the donors who contributed so generously to the Constructing OUR Future campaign in support of the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence,” said Julia Wilson, campaign manager for the Constructing OUR Future campaign in an email prior to the event.

“Everyone – both trades people and non – are able to see the big picture under one roof due to the design process of this building,” said Kayla Obrien, who just completed her final apprenticeship training course in the sheet metal program.

“Students now have much easier access to help, people and resources available to them,” she said. “Before, each trade was in its own section or in an entirely different building. We now have easy access to collaborate and network with other trades that we work with in the field on a daily basis.”

Opened in September 2011, the ACCE is described on their website as a one-of-a-kind living laboratory. The $79-million building spans 194,000 square feet and houses Algonquin’s trades, interior design and civil engineering programs under a single green roof. The facility features exposed inner-workings on display and a 22-meter-high living biofilter wall. Plants on the wall clean the air and add humidity to the atmosphere.

“Everyone shares the common belief that this centre can have an enormous impact on the construction industry overall,” said Michael Tremblay, member of the Algonquin College Foundation board of directors in an address to attendees. “I think everyone is unified in that belief.”

The LEED system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It assesses environmentally sustainable building design, construction, use and maintenance.

There are currently 147 LEED-certified buildings in Ottawa, nine of them at the platinum level including the ACCE facility. LEED certification levels are determined using a point system. 100 possible total points are assigned in the categories of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and design. In order to achieve LEED platinum status, a building must achieve 80 or more points.

“On a personal level this building has opened doors for me and given me opportunities I would have never dreamed possible a few years ago,” said Obrien. “I’ve managed to go from an underdog to a shining example of a woman in trades.”

She is not the only one.

“The campaign exceeded its $7 million goal thanks to the support of the construction industry and its service providers. The surplus was directed to establish the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence Endowed Bursary which has a current value of $500,000. This gift from the construction industry will support deserving, financially-challenged students who are studying in a program within the new centre,”

As a result 25 students will benefit from the bursary allowing them to complete their studies in the ACCE facility.

“I want to thank you all for knocking this one right out of the park,” said Tremblay. “Truly a job well done.”