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When it comes to green, Okanagan College is better than gold.
Okanagan College can now boast of having two of the 14 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Platinum-certified buildings in all of Canada’s post-secondary sector. The College learned this week that its new trades building in Kelowna has been certified by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). It is the second for OC – the first was the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus.
LEED Platinum certification is the highest standard awarded in the rating system which measures green building. The system is in use in more than 160 countries. In order to achieve platinum a building must measure up across an array of factors, from the incorporation of sustainable building materials to water and energy efficiency to human-factor behaviours like recycling programs housed within a building.
“You don’t have to look hard to find advances in sustainability across all the trades, from automotive to welding, so in expanding and re-invigorating our Kelowna trades training facilities, we set out to provide our students and employees with a world-class learning environment that would celebrate them, their chosen career paths and the future of the trades,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our institution has a reputation as a leader in sustainable building. We are proud of being able to raise the bar in sustainability and wouldn’t have been able to create spaces such as this without the help of forward-thinking builders like PCL (PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd.), our industry partners, and the incredible community support and donations that made the project possible.”
The provincial government contributed $28 million toward the $35 million, 10,000-square-metre Trades Complex project which involved new construction and extensive upgrades to existing facilities. The new building accounts for about 5,200 square metres of the overall project.
Feedback from the building’s most important critics – students and staff – has also been glowing.
“Students and staff have truly embraced the new building as their home from the moment it opened,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I think it’s safe to say that the sustainability factor has contributed to their sense of pride in the space.”
Moores has also witnessed how the building’s design has inspired industry and other post-secondary institutions.
“We’ve had feedback from many people who have taken tours and asked about how we were able to incorporate certain technologies and sustainability features, and what it meant for the training environment. One of the other benefits of the building is that has already proved itself as a wonderful model for others in terms of what can be achieved.”