Daycare wastes no power

A new daycare on Okanagan College’s Penticton campus is the most energy efficient building in the region.

In operation for six weeks now, the child care centre is a passive house - a super energy efficient building standard originating in Germany, but growing in popularity in B.C.

“This building is designed in very compact fashion, not a lot of exterior envelope,” said William Green of Landform Architecture. “We’ve carefully placed the windows so that we can maximize solar gains in the winter.”

Walls are extra thick and insulated, while doors and windows feature rubber seals to create an airtight exterior.

Green says it is the first institutional passive house in the entire province. The whole daycare consumes just 10 per cent of the energy of a typical home.

“The college spends over a million dollars a year on utilities,” said Okanagan College buildings manager Rob St. Onge. “So being able to reduce our operational cost is certainly one of our driving factors.”

The child care centre also breaks down barriers for students that otherwise may not be able to attend the college.

“There is definitely a shortage of daycare space available in Penticton,” St. Onge said. “If you are a student, trying to find some place to put your children so you can attend college, it's sometimes a barrier.”

In addition to college students and staff, the daycare is open to the general public. The concept has been at least six years in the making, and is operated by the Penticton and District Community Resources Society.

“We opened our doors in September, we started with 32 children, We are now serving 37 kids,” said executive director Ian Gerbrandt, adding they plan on reaching their goal of 48 children in January.

“The need in our community was child care for younger kids, so kids under three. That starts to impact the group sizes that you have,” he said “But in the future, when those kids grow up and become four and five year olds, this building can actually serve up to 64.”

The building was constructed with provincial funding and a $700,000 fundraising campaign from the Okanagan College Foundation. It also earned Landform Architecture a Thompson Okanagan Commercial Building Award.

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