Even if you had doubts that the “greenest Olympic games” were merely marketing buzz words, you have to be impressed that the implementation of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Center (VCECE) expansion has surpassed the extremely ambitious sustainable initiatives that we first reported to you two years ago. The world’s first LEED Platinum certified convention center also boasts the largest non-industrial green roof in North America. During the XXI Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, the center will serve as the international broadcast and media hub. The expansion tripled the square footage and functional capacity of the old convention center, which was a necessity to house 7000 media guests who will be broadcasting live to millions of viewers across the globe.
Led by Seattle based architecture firm LMN, the most extraordinary addition to the center is the 5-acre living roof that is landscaped with more than 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses, and provides a natural habitat to birds, butterflies, insects, small mammals, and bees. These bees (about 240,000 of them) live in four hives that produce honey to be used in the center’s kitchen. The layers of the structure act as an insulator, reducing heat gains in summer and heat losses in winter, as well as contribute to the building’s stormwater utilization. The underside of the roof is lined with beautiful Douglas Fir slats, a locally harvested material. It is also notable that the convention center roof has flexible space meeting rooms and an exhibition hall. You can see a detailed plan of the roof and other areas of the building, in the VCECE’s really cool online 3D floorplan application.
The renovation, waterfront improvements, and new west facility expansion were a project of the BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo). At almost double the original estimate, it was upwards of $800,000,000 (USD), but the final design includes significant sustainable benefits that are sure to earn back the expenditures over time. The building’s foundation has a five-tiered artificial reef and 1500 feet of marine habitat that will be home to barnacles, mussels, seaweed, starfish, crabs and various fish species. In addition, the on-site black water treatment and desalinization systems that are projected to reduce potable water use 60 to 70 percent over typical convention centers. An integrated heat pump system takes advantage of the constant temperature of the adjacent seawater to moderate heating and cooling. The building design considers natural lighting and ventilation, in addition to the energy efficient fixtures and advanced energy management systems. The interior is clad with locally harvested materials, including Douglas fir and Hemlock wood finishes, and the flooring is low-VOC.
When the games end later this month, the VCEC will continue to function as conference, meeting, ballroom, and exhibition space. Even those that visit the site for leisure purposes will be able to take advantage of the wonderful views, and the 400,000 square feet of walkways, bikeways, public open space and plazas. “The design goes far beyond the big box functionality and experience of a traditional convention centre,” says Mark Reddington, FAIA, LMN partner. “Instead, it offers a new vision of sustainability and a rich public experience by weaving together the natural ecology, local culture, urban context, and building program in a unified whole that functions literally as a living part of both the city and the harbor.”