Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building


NSDA Architects – Institutional [Small] Award

Jury: This project, which provides residential accommodation and a range of support services for youth at risk, balances its strong social agenda with a high level of environmental performance. On a tight urban infill site and an equally tight budget, the design nonetheless manages to achieve high levels of natural light throughout, as well as providing attractive communal spaces for its occupants and visitors. A low window to wall ratio and a high- performance envelope, underpin a durable, low maintenance solution that ensures maximum funds can be made available for youth programs.

Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) is the main provider of residential and outreach services for the city’s homeless and at-risk youth. CHV’s core programs include: Street Outreach, which engages with at-risk youth on the street and provides food,  counselling, and medical attention as well as referring youth to other programs; the Drop-In Program, which  provides both immediate and longer term support services; the Crisis Program, which provides shelter and support services; and Rights of Passage, which provides longer term housing, support, and life skills training to youth while they transition away from life on the street.

This new building provides CHV with the opportunity to expand its existing services, including an enlarged drop-in program (support, meals, laundry, showers), a short-stay sanctuary program for youth in crisis, staff areas associated with the youth programs, administrative areas and much needed recreational opportunities. The site is located on the southern edge of the Downtown core, across the street from the original CHV building. This provides continuity of presence for youth to connect with the staff and programs.

In addition to a commitment to social sustainability, Covenant House Vancouver achieves a significant level of environmental sustainability. Environmental design strategies include: optimized exterior wall assemblies; low window-to-wall ratio; high level of daylighting throughout the building; energy recovery ventilation; reduced lighting power density and a reduction in domestic water consumption.

More specifically, the building has a compact, simple form to reduce the area of exterior surfaces, and employs a high-performance building envelope with thermal breaks and continuous high insulation values. Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) deliver ventilation air throughout the building. A dedicated HRV serves the Level 5 offices and a separate central HRV serves the rest of the building. The HRV cores significantly reduces the annual ventilation heating load and overall energy use.

  • Project Performance
  • Energy intensity (building and process energy) = 117.3KWhr/m2/year
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1  2007 = 32%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 7,462 litres/occupant/year (base building)
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building under LEED = 44%
  • Recycled material content by value = 20.7%
  • Regional materials (800km radius) by value = 31.5%
  • Construction waste diverted from landfill = 84.8%

The residential suites comply with ASHRAE Standard 55, Thermal Comfort Conditions for Human Occupancy. SLOAN electronic faucets and ELKAY water stations (both from Dobbins Sales) have helped to reduce water consumption by 44%.

Durable, maintainable building components were selected under a Building Durability Plan informed by CSA Standard S4788-95, and interior materials, such as resilient flooring in the form of rubber base, rubber tile, stair stringers, transition strips and Centiva Heritage Plank supplied by Tarkett, have minimal VOC content. The cooling system and fan coils use Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology from Mitsubishi Electric Sales Canada.

  • Project Credits
  • Owner/Developer  Covenant House Vancouver
  • Development Consultant  CitySpace Consulting Ltd.
  • Architect  NSDA Architects
  • General Contractor  VanMar Constructors
  • Landscape Architect  Durante Kreuk
  • Civil Engineer  RF Binnie and Associates Ltd.
  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineer  Integral Group
  • Structural Engineer  Fast + Epp
  • Commissioning Agent  CES Engineering Ltd.
  • Building Code  LMDG Building Code Consulting Ltd.
  • Building Envelope  exp Services Inc.
  • Sustainability  Blue Camas Consulting Ltd.
  • Photos  Latreille Photography Ltd.