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:
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.
The design for the 7,500sqm library and classroom building proposed the active pursuit of sustainable, low energy design and also offered a strong aesthetic identity, as one of three new facilities in the masterplan to be added to the campus over a 20 year period.
The design reflects the environmental factors to which it responds – most notably, variable wind conditions. These forces are harnessed by the warped concrete roof to increase the velocity of air currents which creates negative wind pressure at a series of “wind towers” and garden courts that are displaced vertically from the volume of the building and thus eliminate the need for mechanical ventilation. The building is ventilated entirely through natural “stack effect” ventilation. Fresh air is brought into the building through wind scoops that become iconic elements in the new student quadrangle.
Cooling is facilitated throughout by wind towers that pull fresh air upward through the building, while natural light is directed downward into the interior. Much consideration is also given to how the building is situated in the larger context of the campus and provides a clear vision for community improvement at both the planning and architectural levels of design.