Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence

Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence building at the Penticton campus
Photovoltaic solar arrays on the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence roof generate energy to operate the building.

Penticton campus expansion built to meet the Living Building Challenge

Students at the Penticton campus experience education and training in one of the most sustainable educational buildings in Canada: the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

They are learning in one of the world's greenest buildings; a structure that is as much a lesson in itself as it is a place to learn. It is a building that incorporates made-in-B.C. innovation as much as it serves to promote it. In 2015, the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence achieved LEED Platinum Certification.

The project was initially announced in April 2009 as part of the joint Provincial-Federal Knowledge Infrastructure Program, and opened its doors to students in June 2011. The $27.6 million budget came from several sources: $13.5 million Government of Canada, $9.1 million from the Province of B.C., and $5 million was generated from Okanagan College fundraising.
The building is 7,085 square metres in size. There are 14 classrooms and labs, five trade shops and a common tool crib, 300 student study spaces, gymnasium, fitness room, five suites of open-space offices (total capacity 30 staff), seven meeting rooms, innovation incubation space, an on-roof test facility for alternative energy devices, women's resource centre, one multi-purpose demonstration lab (for community use as well), and sustainable kitchen using high-efficiency appliances focused on healthy eating.

Building features

  • Other than a hardwood gymnasium floor sourced from Ontario, the project features 100 per cent B.C. wood , including pine from beetle-kill affected forests in the Okanagan and FSC-certified lumber sourced from B.C.
  • The walls of the gymnasium u se new technology, designed by the project's structural engineers (Fast + Epp) and built by StructureCraft Builders Inc. of Delta. The walls are built with composite panels, a combination of concrete and glulam (glued laminated timber) beams that are light and strong. These walls have heating and cooling piping inside with electrical conduits and ventilation built in. This is the first time this technology has been used in North America.
  • The first and second floors of the building (excluding the gymnasium) are polished concrete and are heated and cooled with an in-floor radiant system. The water source for the in-floor heating is 61 metres below the building, where wells have been drilled. The water is drawn to the surface where heat is taken out of the water via heat pump technology. This is an open loop continuous system.
  • The building is naturally ventilated and cooled. Windows feature a green light/red light system that indicate when windows can be opened to maximize cooling. Air enters the building and passes over the cool concrete slab floor. Solar chimneys draw warm air up and out of the building.
  • All of the building's mechanical and electrical services are exposed, where possible, to demonstrate the technology used. This is part of the building's teaching and "living lab" capability.
  • The largest array of photovoltaic solar panels in Western Canada has been installed to generate 258 kilowatts of electricity.
  • The building is expected to use 65 kilowatt-hours of energy per square metre per year. A typical building of similar size built to standard specifications would use approximately 250 kilowatt-hours per square metre per year. This positions the building as one of the most energy efficient in North America.
  • The building recycles and re-uses all wastewater produced on site using chemical-free treatment by the City of Penticton. Treated water will be returned to the site for use in the building's grey water system and for on-site irrigation.
  • Domestic hot water loads are answered by solar panels.
  • The rooftop has green spaces with local flora.
  • The roof of the building is accessible to students, staff and visitors. Students can view the solar panels and conduct testing.
  • The project does not use any materials red-listed by the Living Building Challenge (other than those required by building codes). Instead of using creosote pilings, the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence sourced and installed steel pilings. The building does not use any products that are harmful to people or the environment (i.e., no formaldehyde in insulation).

Building name

The naming of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation was announced by Premier Christy Clark on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 in Penticton at the official opening of the $28-million building. The name reflects the generosity of Mr. Jim Pattison and his Foundation, which contributed $2.5-million to the Okanagan College Foundation and its community fundraising campaign.  

Okanagan College would like to thank and acknowledge all of the donors who supported the completion of the project. In 2015, LEED Platinum certification was officially achieved; the LEED standard is globally recognized as a means of accessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved; this is a testament to the high level of sustainability the College has been able to achieve through the project thanks to support from the community.

Published By College Relations on December 2, 2020

Centre highlights

  • Net zero energy consumption, with largest photovoltaic solar array on a non-utility institutional building in Canada tied into power grid
  • Solar hot water system
  • Extensive use of wood to reflect the region and B.C.'s natural resources
  • Green roof components, mimicking the regional flora
  • Natural cross-ventilation using solar chimneys in open mode
  • High-performance building envelope and displacement ventilation in closed mode
  • Ground source heat pump with radiant floor heating
  • Ground source cooling
  • Localized thermal mass and radiant wall panels
  • Lightweight, light-touch construction
  • Extensive use of local pine beetle-kill wood
  • Innovative structural solutions avoiding extensive use of adhesives, preservatives and paints
  • Extensive use of local materials
  • Rooftop petri dish for experimental technologies

Program highlights