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UBC Okanagan celebrates anniversary of energy-efficient building

According to officials, Skeena Residence will use 90 per cent less heat and energy than conventional buildings. UBC Okanagan

A unique building at UBC Okanagan is undergoing its one-year anniversary.

The energy-efficient and six-storey building is cited as Canada’s first student residence with passive-house certification, which requires little energy for heating or cooling.

Overall, it will use 90 per cent less heat and energy than conventional buildings.

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“The thermal stability of the building means students hardly ever need to touch the thermostat.  With heat and air conditioning needed only sparingly, the power usage is kept to an absolute minimum without compromising liveability,” said Shannon Dunn, UBCO’s director of business operations.

“It’s an incredible feat, considering the strain the heatwave put on infrastructure throughout B.C. With extreme weather events expected more frequently in the future, this kind of innovation and technology will become ever more important.”

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According to the province, the certification is internationally recognized. The building features thick insulation, an airtight and high-efficiency building envelope and a heat recovery ventilation system.

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“This building allows hundreds of new students to experience living on-campus in a sustainable way,” said Anne Kang, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

“Two hundred and twenty students now have a place to call home, and the building they live in requires only one-third of the energy required by a typical student residence.”

The university says the building is named Skeena Residence. It cost $24.98 million to construct, with the province funding $18.74 million.

“As Canada’s first passive house-certified student residence,” said UBCO’s principal and deputy vice-chancellor, Lesley Cormack, “Skeena is an extraordinary achievement for UBC Okanagan and the teams that worked on it.”

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