UBCO Skeena Residence complex has 220 bedrooms, a beautiful Commons area and sustainability features throughout. Its integrated design process is energy efficiency and fits practical living needs.
It was designed by Architecture + Communication Inc., landscape architect WSP and consultants in specialized fields. Notably, it is the first passive house dormitory in all of Canada. It’s only the second in North America.
The Skeena Residence is part of UBCO’s Living Laboratory initiative. The Skeena Residence has a monitoring system that gathers information about energy use and occupant comfort. All 220 students will complete a survey at the end of the year to provide even more data about low energy living.
Moreover, student housing requires a lot of electricity. Students use hair dryers, computers, refrigerators and all sorts of small appliances. The desert environment of the region creates a lot of humidity. That’s why the building’s construction focused on airtightness, insulation and moisture control. The air circulation is renewed every three hours through mechanical systems to prevent mold.
On the other hand, triple-glazed windows prevent energy loss. There’s also an eight-inch thick blanket of mineral wool insulation around the building. The roof is also super-insulated to minimize heat loss. Floor finishes and low-VOC paint were used throughout the building. Meanwhile, low-flow plumbing fixtures help conserve water on the site. The landscaping is full of native and adapted plants to reduce the irrigation needs on the property. Rainwater management provides water for the landscaping areas.
What’s cool is that the building does not need fossil fuels for heating, cooling or hot water. The building isn’t even connected to the campus district heating system. It has its own stand-alone electric system and heat pumps that provide heating and cooling.
Furthermore, the mechanical systems are located within the thermal envelope. Everything is also highly insulated to minimize thermal bridging and damage caused by condensation. Lastly, the building is 80% constructed with wood framing, with some concrete used on the ground floor.
Photography by Andrew Latreille