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A new green building for the Guelph Turfgrass Institute

'Now, the space we have is functional, it's practical and as far as comparisons go, it is a bit more accessible'

It's not just the grass that is green at the new location of Guelph Turfgrass Institute. The new building is green for future generations.

The new G.M. Frost Research and Information Centre is situated on a 17-acre property at 364 College Ave. E. Formerly located on a 300-acre property just around the corner at 328 Victoria Rd. S., the GTI moved into its current space after its 25 year lease had expired on provincial land.

On Friday, GTI hosted an open house public field day which took groups on a tour through the facility and 14 research plots focusing on industry needs. 

Sara Stricker, communications and outreach coordinator with GTI, said the new facility was designed to be as eco-friendly as possible.

"You see the exposed wood beams, we have LED lighting that turns on and off automatically, we have green roofs and the water that we collect is in turn used to flush our toilets," said Stricker during a tour of the building.

Along with sustainable features, the new facility has a test garden, which houses flowers sent from breeders around the world. There is also a lab for graduate students, a lecture hall and a classroom to have students from the diploma in turfgrass management on site. 

Cam Shaw, program manager for the turfgrass management program, said the previous space only had a conference room. Having the classroom now creates new opportunities for students.

"I can have my diploma students here learning, and right next door, there could be a massive conference for an industry event," said Shaw.

Shaw adds the old GTI building was much less sustainable, costing more to heat due to having 60 feet high ceilings. The new sustainable GTI building is cheaper to maintain and is more convenient being located on campus.

"Now, the space we have is functional, it's practical and as far as comparisons go, it is a bit more accessible."

A release from the GTI said the current facility was largely funded by the Government of Ontario through the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO). 17 organizations and individuals also contributed to the project. The total cost of the facility was around $14-million.

Stricker adds they are still raising funds for a new maintenance shed and teaching building at the GTI. The teaching building will be used for learning irrigation installation, machine maintenance and landscape design for turfgrass management and landscape design students.

"Right now, they're doing a lot of their engine building in the classroom, which is not exactly ideal you want a separate space for that," said Stricker. 

The new site comes during the 35th anniversary of the GTI as a national leader in research, extension work and professional development. The facility is also headquarters for the Ontario Golf Superintedents Association, Sports Turf Canada and the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation. 

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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