Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building

UBC Engineering Student Centre

Compact LEED Gold building celebrates structure

The University of British Columbia Engineering Student Centre [ESC] is a home away from home for the students, a place to meet, collaborate, and build a community. The vision was to create an iconic building that celebrates the science and art of engineering, while providing an inviting place for groups from two persons to 400 to socialize and study.

By Shelley Craig and Nicole Jahraus

Completed in 2015, the project team designed the ESC to align with UBC’s ambitious sustainability mandate – to create a learning environment that stimulates and fosters student leadership. The building has been designed as a “living lab” to showcase innovative engineering strategies.

Key design concepts, developed in collaboration with the students, included pushing the limits of wood construction; implementing passive design strategies, demonstrating building systems through their absence, and creating a healthy, inclusive and welcoming social space for all students. Since its completion in 2015, ESC has received LEED Canada Gold certification, and a British Columbia WoodWorks! Design Award.

Located in an existing courtyard and surrounded by two to six storey concrete buildings, ESC is sited to take advantage of the unique microclimate. The building uses the shading from the existing buildings and optimizes the use of localized wind patterns. Solar modelling was used to determine the extent of overhangs and the location of glazing within the building. The cantilevered NLT roof and upper floor structures address the seasonal sun paths, permitting winter solar gains while limiting solar exposure in the summer.
Natural ventilation is achieved through the stack effect, harnessing the constant wind in the courtyard. Trickle vents located on the ground and second floor combine with a roof top lantern to ensure continual natural ventilation. The radiant heating systems are tied directly to a District Energy System, minimizing energy consumption. The service spaces are located on the shady east side to alleviate heat build-up and the public open spaces to the south and the west.

Project Performance
• Energy intensity = 148 kWh/m2/year
• Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1 [2007] = 50%
• Potable water consumption from municipal sources = 2675L/occupant/year
• Potable water consumption reduction relative to reference building = 40%
• Regional materials [as defined by LEED] by value = 31%
• Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 10%
• Construction materials diverted from landfill = 95%

Project Credits
• Owner/Developer  UBC Properties Trust
• Architect  Urban Arts Architecture
• Structural Engineer  Fast + Epp
• Mechanical Engineer  MCW Consulting Engineers
• Electrical Engineer  Stantec
• Civil Engineer  Core Group
• Landscape Architect  Hapa Collaborative
• Commissioning Agent  WSP/MMM
• Sustainability Consultant  Stantec
• Building Performance Modeller  Stantec
• General Contractor  Syncra Construction
• Photos  Martin Knowles Photo/Media

Shelley Craig is a Partner at Urban Arts Architecture. Nicole Jahraus is Design Assistant at Urban Arts Architecture.