Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies achieves LEED Platinum certification

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at Okanagan College has been certified LEED Platinum. Since its completion in 2011, the post-secondary facility has been recognized as one of the most innovative and sustainable education facilities anywhere.

Designed by CEI Architecture, built by PCL Constructors Westcoast, and with sustainable consulting by Recollecting Consulting, the 7,000-square-metre facility provides trades and technology training and professional development with a focus on sustainable practices and the use of alternative and renewable energy.

It was one of three buildings in North America featured by the New York Times Knowledge Network as leading examples of carbon-neutral campus architecture, and has received honours from the Canadian Green Building Council, the Green Good Design Awards, the Applied Science and Technologists and Technicians of BC, and many more.

“The Centre of Excellence is truly an innovative facility, providing leading-edge training in sustainable practices for Okanagan College,” said Bill Locking, senior partner with CEI Architecture. “The integrated nature of the design and construction team enabled the Centre of Excellence to achieve ambitious targets for sustainable design. We couldn’t be more proud to have been part of the project.”

The Centre of Excellence is also pursuing certification under the Living Building Challenge, one of the most rigorous measures of sustainability for the built environment. The two-storey building incorporates a variety of integrated energy efficiency and sustainable design features to minimize its impact on the environment.

“The Centre of Excellence is a truly green project and an inspiring model of what can be. The elegant combination of simple passive strategies and complex mechanical systems shows the way forward for the built environment,” said Jason Packer of Recollective Consulting. “It is a pedagogic building, supporting the growth of capacity in the green building trades through the education programs it houses and the growth of the green building design community as a case study in conservation. It is great to see the project rewarded with a LEED Platinum certification.”

The Centre of Excellence has a wood-frame structure, which gives it a much lower carbon footprint compared to an equivalent steel or concrete structure. Much of the wood used in the building was locally sourced pine-beetle kill timber, which, if unused, may have been burned, releasing sequestered carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The facility’s linear plan maximizes daylight penetration and natural ventilation, while careful orientation and a high-performance building envelope limit the building’s energy demands. Energy is created by a sizeable photovoltaic array on the roof, as well as geothermal heating and cooling. Light is delivered into the building by sun-tracking solar light pipes and tubular skylights. The facility also addresses water conservation, an important issue in Penticton’s desert-like climate. Foul water at the facility is treated without chemicals and reused for flushing and irrigation.

The Centre of Excellence was designed to be used extensively as a teaching tool in Okanagan College’s curriculum. Many aspects of the facility’s structure and composition are visible and demonstrable. Live building data is available on a web-based interface. The rooftop is accessible, allowing for study of experimental technologies such as wind turbines and alternative photo-voltaics.

For more information, please visit the project website at www.alivingclassroom.com.