NORTHERN LIGHTS COLLEGE TRADES TRAINING CENTRE, Dawson Creek, BC

McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd. – Institutional [Large] Award

Jury: A remarkable response to the challenging industrial workshop program and an equally challenging climate. The result is a refined, restrained and beautiful building, with a great sense of warmth emanating from the exposed wood finishes and the high levels of natural light. The requirement for large expanses of solid wall is cleverly used for the collection of solar heat. And, the overall performance metrics are impressive.

With a population of 13,000, Dawson Creek is located in the Peace River region of northern British Columbia, the western extremity of the Canadian Prairies. The city has become the regional centre for the province’s energy industry and home for BC’s ‘Energy College’. The recently completed Trades Training Centre is the third phase in a campus expansion plan that has previously included a Centre for Excellence in Clean Energy Technology (CECET) and a 26m-high cross laminated timber (CLT) training tower for the college’s wind turbine maintenance program.

Seeking LEED Gold certification, the Trades Training Centre subverts the sprawling pattern of adjacent rural development by framing positive public outdoor space and inverts the standard trades building typology in favour of one more suited to a multi-disciplinary, interactive approach to trades education.

The 5,600m2 Trades Training Centre provides workshops for the instruction of carpentry, welding, plumbing, millwright, and wind turbine technology, as well as student commons, classrooms, and offices. The building is located at the entrance to the campus, close to the phase 1 CECET building and linked to it by a colonnaded walkway.

These connected structures define three sides of an open courtyard that embraces visitors and forms a new and welcoming entrance plaza for the college. The colonnade has a continuous CLT rear wall and an exposed CLT roof supported on laminated veneer lumber columns. The colonnade continues into the trades building where it defines the edge of a student commons that looks out to the courtyard. The student commons is screened from adjacent classrooms with a playful curved partition of LVL posts.

Beyond the student commons, the workshops are positioned either side of a ‘shops commons’ and have overhead doors opening onto it. The shops commons is a new type of space for the trades program that provides flexible, interactive space for the workshops – and was also deemed essential to accommodate shipping and receiving functions in a climate where winter temperatures can dip well below -30°C.

The energy requirements of trades buildings in northern climates are extreme, due to the high ventilation demands of the shops. The building mitigates this by integrating architecture and structure with its lighting and mechanical systems. The heat is supplied by a biomass-fueled boiler that burns waste wood. To achieve optimal performance, the biomass boiler is oversized and was installed in advance to supply hydronic heat to two additional buildings as a campus energy system.

Student commons area looking out to new entry courtyard. Plumbing fixtures by SLOAN (from Dobbins sales) have helped to reduce water consumption by 50%. Brisco Manufacturing Ltd. suppled the mass timber post and beam structure, the roof system, and panels.

The energy requirements of trades buildings in northern climates are extreme, due to the high ventilation demands of the shops. The building mitigates this by integrating architecture and structure with its lighting and mechanical systems. Hydronic convectors by Jaga, hydronic fan coils by Daikin, and heat recovery coils by Scott Springfield Manufacturing Inc. in the exhaust of some of the air handling units, all supplied by Olympic International, help to provide efficient heating.

The inconspicuous MatrixAir® transpired solar collector along the south elevation pre-heats supply air which is admitted through intake vents located behind the metal cladding.

  • Project Credits
  • Owner/Developer  Sifton Properties Limited
  • Architect  Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.
  • General Contractor  D. Grant Construction Limited.
  • Landscape Architect  Ron Koudys Landscape Architects Inc.
  • Civil Engineer  Stantec
  • Electrical / Mechanical Engineer  Smith+ Andersen
  • Structural Engineer  Van Boxmeer Stranges
  • Sustainability  Footprint
  • PV Consultant  s2e Technologies
  • Photos  Lisa Logan
  • Project Performance
  • Energy intensity = 81KWhr/m²/year (Building 73KWhr/m²/year, Process 8KWhr/m²/year)
  • Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 43%
  • Water consumption from municipal sources = 4,160litres/occupant/year
  • Reduction in water consumption relative to reference building = 60%

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