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B.C. schools earn green building awards

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by Warren Frey

Two centres of higher education in British Columbia have been recognized for their sustainable design and construction.
B.C. schools earn green building awards

Two centres of higher education in British Columbia have been recognized for their sustainable design and construction.

The Jim Pattison Centre for Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at Okanagan College, in Penticton, and the University of British Columbia (UBC) Biological Sciences Building, in Vancouver, both won Green Building Awards from Sustainable Architecture and Building (SAB) Magazine.

When judging buildings on sustainability, SAB Magazine editor Jim Taggart said it is important to keep context in mind.

For example, energy use varies over different climates.

“You can’t take an energy number in Manitoba and compare it to coastal British Columbia,” he said.

The centre although located in Penticton and not subject to large variances in temperature or weather, was still mandated to be as sustainable as possible and was a contender for the Living Building Challenge.

The project is intended to be a net zero energy and water consumer.

Although the building can’t treat water on-site, it releases black water into the chemical-free Penticton treatment plant and accepts grey water back.

The project also employs radiant heating throughout the building, which is usually in the floors.

However, because the gym needed a sprung floor, radiant heating was instead installed in the walls, utilizing a concrete and glulam sandwich panel.

The centre also displayed adaptability with its faculty rooms, which were designed in the same fashion as classrooms, so that they could be re-adapted for extra learning space.

“What set it apart from other applications with similar mandates was the way the configuration of the centre created strong connections to the rest of the campus,” Taggart said.

The Biological Sciences Complex was also cited for its openness, allowing for increased interaction and collaboration between students and educators.

UBC decided to renew the current structures, rather than demolishing them to make way for new buildings.

“Lab buildings are incredibly energy intensive, but you might be adding greenhouse gases by destroying the building,” Taggart said.

In fact, he added, a new building constructed to high energy standards would have to operate for 40 to 50 years to compensate for the greenhouse gases released by demolishing the older structure.

The focus on the life cycle of the building is another important component of sustainability, he said.

“We should look less at opening day and look more at closing day,” Taggart said.

The Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC) is also highlighting winners of the 2012 Green Building Awards with an exhibit in the lobby of their office in downtown Vancouver.

“SABMag’s annual Canadian Green Building Awards do a great job of celebrating Canadian design innovation with particular emphasis on sustainability and environmentally-sensitive architectural design,” said AIBC director of professional services Paul Becker.

“We’re pleased to bring public attention to these and the other 2012 winners by showcasing them in the AIBC Gallery throughout July and August,” he added.

The only other western Canadian winning project was Karis Place - More Than a Roof Housing in Vancouver.

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