LafargeHolcim Foundation Knowledge Turntable for Sustainable Construction


Library and Classroom Building, Langara College, Vancouver, Canada

The library and classroom building performs 70% better than the model National Energy Code of Canada – making the most of renewable resources (wind, rain, and geothermal temperatures) and transforming these resources into uniquely exceptional spaces.

A campus to showcase sustainability

The Library and Classroom Building at Langara College in Vancouver was completed in July 2007 and is LEED-Gold certified. The College and design team shared a common goal: to create a sustainable campus that demonstrates environmental responsibility and stewardship for the student body and the community. LEED-Gold was achieved through a combination of factors including greening of the site, low flow bathroom fixtures, reflective and green roofs, rainwater harvesting, incorporation of fly-ash in concrete, and regional as well as low-emitting materials and furnishings.

The form of the building is generated from the environmental forces acting on it:

  • wind towers drive natural displacement ventilation within the building
  • the warped roof channels wind towards the wind towers and gathers grey water for landscape irrigation
  • courtyards create voids in the building, bringing daylight into the study spaces and offices
  • air is tempered by geothermal heating and cooling, in combination with the building’s inherent thermal mass

The annual energy consumption of the system is 24.5kWh/m2 – more than 70% better than the model National Energy Code. This energy performance is achieved through the use of natural/wind driven ventilation, geothermal energy sources, and the control of solar radiation through energy efficient glazing.

The annual electrical energy consumption for the building is 262MJ/m2. This is attributed to the electrically powered geothermal system. Natural gas usage is 38MJ/m2, which represents a savings of 94%. The drastic reduction in natural gas is particularly significant in British Columbia, where hydro-electricity is the primary energy source. Since the building is naturally heated and cooled, there is no need to rely on external energy sources to assure a high quality of air and light within the spaces.

This project exemplifies a cultural shift, one that no longer sees the world as a vast resource, but as a finite reserve, which is slowly disappearing. The building responds to these changes technically – making the most of renewable resources (wind, rain and geothermal temperatures), as well as poetically – transforming these resources into uniquely exceptional spaces.

Last Updated: February 16, 2011
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Vancouver, Canada
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