Green technology took top honours at the 25th annual Tommie awards, with two Okanagan College projects recognized for their environmental innovation.
One of the most advanced and sustainable trades training facilities in the world, OC’s new trades complex at the Kelowna campus landed top spot for Best Environmental Initiative at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Okanagan Chapter awards gala on the weekend.
The three-year, $35-million project was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with David Nairne + Associates and built by by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. with the goal to be certified LEED Platinum and achieve net zero energy usage.
The ambitious project involved a 10,000-square-metre renovation and expansion that included building a new three-story learning space and state-of-the-art workshops, as well as retrofitting and environmentally upgrading existing facilities.
According to the college, every effort was made in the complex’s design to integrate renewable energy sources.
The heating system uses waste heat from the treated effluent of the city’s neighbouring wastewater treatment plant and the facility boasts the second largest photovoltaic solar array on a non-utility institutional building in Western Canada. It generates enough energy to power more than 25 homes per year. (The college’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton is currently the largest solar array.)
The trades complex also incorporates smart technologies to minimize its carbon footprint. The automated windows of the “breathing” atrium regulate heating and cooling based on temperature and sun position. Trades shops were outfitted with on-demand ventilation to significantly reduce energy waste during hands-on training.
The complex, which officially opened in Sept., has the capacity to train 2,700 students a year for in-demand skills.
It is the college’s first campus building to win a Tommie Award and is one of two sustainability-focused projects the college is involved with that won awards at this year’s ceremony.
The Wilden Living Lab, a collaborative project between the college and four community partners, also received gold, winning the FortisBC Award for Building Energy Efficiency.
Built with assistance of 17 OC residential construction program students, the Living Lab is a real-world study on sustainable homebuilding – the only one of its kind in North America.
Comprised of two identical homes with different energy-efficient technologies that are being monitored monitored and compared over a three-year period, the lab’s “Home of Tomorrow” incorporates renewable energy sources, including geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels and a heat pump water heater.
“To be recognized in our community for two leading-edge environmental initiatives is very affirming,” said OC president Jim Hamilton. “We pride ourselves on having set and achieved high standards for sustainability. The trades complex and Living Lab demonstrate how we continue to achieve that standard.”
The Living Lab homes mark the 49th and 50th projects of the college’s Home for Learning program.
Okanagan College has won three Tommie Awards in the past for its Home for Learning projects.