Ribbon cut for Vale Living with Lakes Centre – by Rita Poliakov (Sudbury Star – August 26, 2011)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

John Gunn may have won the battle, but now he’s focused on the war. The director of the Vale Living With Lakes Centre, which was officially opened on Thursday, first started raising funds for the building in 1992.

Since then, the Co-operative Freshwater Ecology Unit at Laurentian University has tried to build a new centre three times. Instead, the unit’s researchers operated out of several small white houses by Ramsey Lake.

“I feel like I’m (still) fighting. The work is ahead of us. The most important thing now is the work itself,” said Gunn, the Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems at Laurentian.

“I think we’re just starting out. This is the time to be looking ahead. How do we attract those new young researchers?”

Laurentian’s ecology unit was formed in 1989 as a partnership between the university, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. All three organizations will make use of the two-building, 36,000-square-foot facility, which cost around $20 million to build.

After 18 years of fighting, Gunn and his researchers now have a centre with three multimedia rooms, several labs and LEED platinum certification, one of the top environmentally friendly certifications a structure can receive.

That last quality is one of the most important.

“We went after energy efficiency,” Gunn said, explaining that the centre uses a third of the water a typical lab would.

This is accomplished through a perforated pavement, which collects rain, runoff and wastewater. The water is filtered into an existing wetland in the front of the building, and is used for flushing toilets and washing vehicles and gear, therefore reducing water use by 80%.

To Jeffrey Laberge of J. L Richards, which designed the building, the structure is a good fit for its purpose.

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