Bridgette Meinhold

Okanagan College Centre for Excellence is a Solar Powered Living Classroom

by , 10/06/11

OKanagan College Centre of Excellence, CEI, sustainable building, living building, living classroom

Planning for the hands-on, living classroom began back in 2009, with a design charrette led by CEI that involved over 40 participants and Okanagan College to develop a working model for the building. The 6,780 sq meter facility combines classrooms, meeting areas, office space, research and testing facilities and a community gymnasium. The living classroom was designed to practice what it teaches and aims to reduce energy use, conserve water, and mitigate its impact on the surrounding environment. The net zero energy and water facility provides live energy and water data from which students can learn from.

The large roof incorporates a number of sustainable strategies to both reduce energy use and generate energy for the building. A series of ventilation chimneys work off the stack effect to draw hot air up and out of the building, and encourage natural ventilation. Solatube skylights and sun-tracking light pipes dot the roof and pull daylighting down into the building, while a couple sections are planted with native plants creating a new habitat for local species. Both photovoltaics and evacuated tube solar collectors generate energy for the building, and a test area allows students and faculty to change out equipment to study new technologies.

The entrance of the building features a gorgeous array of sun shades that block the sun during the summer and bounce light into the space during the winter. FSC certified and thermally treated wood is used to create a timber frame entrance, and prototype composite panels designed specifically for the center grace the remaining walls. Triple-glazed argon-filled windows and a continually insulated wall assembly ensure a tight and high performing envelope. The Centre for Excellence was completed in March of 2011, and must undergo a full year of performance verification before it can earn its Living Building Challenge certification. In the meantime, they are also targeting LEED Platinum certification.

+ CEI Architecture Planning Interiors

+ Centre for Excellence at Okanagan College

Via ArchDaily

Images ©Ed White Photographics

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  1. SHuber July 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    The state of the art renewable energy system by Pro Eco Energy provides an opportunity for students to compare technologies and system performances. Okanagan College’s solar water heating system utilizes both flat-plate and evacuated-tube collector technologies: 29 solar collector panels, heat pump and heat exchangers, direct digital control with web-based data transfer.

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