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Penticton’s Centre of Excellence a green marvel

The education building at the Penticton campus is one of the most energy efficient in Canada

Even before it opened its doors to students in 2011, the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at the Okanagan College Penticton campus was receiving attention.

The building is seen as an object lesson for sustainable construction, taught to students at Okanagan College. The centre has been bestowed with multiple awards over the years, and it was one of two buildings in all of Canada to be represented at the World Sustainable Building Conference held in Helsinki, Finland in 2011.

The centre was officially opened in 2011, by Christy Clark, the premier at the time, and several years later John Horgan, leader of the NDP in 2015, who would go on to become B.C.’s premier in 2017, celebrated the facility’s innovations as one of the ways forward to meet the energy needs of the future.

The building is one of the most energy efficient in Canada thanks to the many innovations in design and technology that went into it, from the roof down to the foundations.

With a total space of 7,085 square metres in size, the centre packs in 14 classrooms and labs, five trade shops, 300 student study spaces, a gymnasium, a fitness room, five suites of open-space offices, meeting rooms, a women’s resource centre, a multi-purpose demonstration lab that is open for community use and a sustainable kitchen.

As of 2020, the centre still boasts the largest array of photovoltaic solar panels on its roofs in Western Canada, capable of generating 258 kilowatts of electricity, which are accessible by students and teachers for viewing and testing.

All of the wood outside of the floor of the building’s gymnasium was supplied from B.C. forests, which piloted the use of composite concrete and glue-laminated timber beams and composite panels for the walls.

The building’s heating and cooling systems are fueled by water provided through 61-metre-deep wells buried under the building, with heat pumps extracting warmth from the water, and the windows in all of the rooms are set up with a light system to indicate when to open them for the best cooling. Solar chimneys further draw warm air up and out of the building.

With all of the innovations that went into the building, it uses a fraction of the energy that a building of comparable size would use.

In 2015, LEED Platinum certification was officially achieved. The LEED standard is globally recognized as a means of accessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.

The building added space for hundreds of students, and it was funded by both the federal and provincial governments, as well as funds raised by the community. B.C. businessman Jim Pattison put in $2.5 million in matching donations to get the centre built.

The building has received awards for its design and construction in categories of everything from green building design and conservation to lighting and leadership excellence.

In 2012, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada and Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine presented the Tree for Life Award and an Award of Excellence to AME Consulting Group for its work on the building.

The Tree for Life Award was given for outstanding environmental stewardship. In this case, that involved providing full mechanical consulting services and virtual environment modelling on the project.

That year it also received the International Architecture Awards’ Green Good Design award from the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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