Imagine an educational facility that is as much a teacher as the instructors standing at the front of its classrooms; a building powered by the resources of its surrounding environment; a building as full of potential as the students learning inside. That building is Penticton’s Okanagan College Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, a world-class educational facility that will train British Columbia’s next generation of tradesmen in green construction.
Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence, which will mark its grand opening this fall, is designed to the standards of the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous sustainability program on the planet. The challenge requires projects to meet a stringent list of qualifications, including net-zero energy and water consumption, and address critical environmental, social and economic factors. Successful Living Building Challenge projects are only certified if they prove they meet program requirements after 12 months of continued operations and full occupancy. At 6,780 square meters, the Centre of Excellence is currently one of the largest buildings to pursue Living Building certification.
Innovative sustainability components throughout the building add up to make the Centre of Excellence one of the greenest educational facilities in the world. These include net-zero energy and water consumption made possible through features such as an in-floor radiant heating and cooling system, using an on-site water source drawn from 61 meters below the building; the largest array of photovoltaic solar panels in Western Canada; and composite concrete/wood panels in the gymnasium that contain piping for heating and cooling and are the first of their kind in North America. Nearly 100% of the wood in the building is B.C.-sourced, including local pine from beetle-infested forests in the Okanagan.
The Centre’s planned educational programming includes Sustainable Construction Management Technology, Carpentry, Applied Ecology and Conservation, and Green Building Design and Construction, as well as the research and development of alternative and renewable energy sources. BD+C