The first building in Kelowna built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards has now been certified by the Canada Green Building Council.
Okanagan College’s Centre for Learning, a five-storey, 6,852-square-metre $28-million project, broke ground in 2006. The building was the first of its kind in the city to be designed and built to LEED Gold standards. It opened its doors to students in the fall of 2009 but was only recently certified by the Canada Green Building Council.
There is one other building in Kelowna that has achieved LEED Gold status – the Clinical Academic Campus for UBC’s Faculty of Medicine on Pandosy Street.
“The certification process has been longer than anyone could have expected but it is a really important final piece of the Centre for Learning,” said Steve Robinson, Director of Facilities Management for the College. “We designed and built the facility at a time when very few people were thinking along the sustainability path. We have had a few years to monitor the building’s performance and have been so pleased with the technologies we utilized.”
Canada’s Green Building Council is a not-for-profit independent national organization that works to advance green building and sustainable development practices. In order to achieve LEED status, building projects must meet a series of performance criteria in the areas of design, construction and operation.
“We know the building is doing what it was designed to do,” said Robinson. “We see it every day in our energy performance and in the efficiencies we can monitor. But it is very important to have the certification. Lots of organizations will build to LEED standards and point to equivalencies as a measure, but for us, it was important to demonstrate that we did meet our goals. Perhaps it is inherent in our nature as a learning organization – it’s kind of like writing that final exam. Earning our certification feels like getting the A we have been working toward.”
The Centre for Learning is Okanagan College’s first LEED certified building. The College will be pursuing Living Building status from Canada’s Green Building Council for its Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation – a designation with standards that exceed those of LEED Gold or Platinum.
The College has broken ground on its next major capital project in Kelowna – a $33-million renovation and expansion of its aging Trades facility. The College is aiming for LEED Gold as a minimum designation for that building as well.