When I was just 5 years old, I got to take a tour of the then newly built, BC Cancer Research Centre located on 10th Avenue West, Vancouver. It was days before they opened their doors for the very first time, that my family and I got to tour the clinical facility.
My memories of the details of its environmentally friendly features are vivid as I was very young. However, the architecture and structure of it captivated me, and those images have not left my memory, it is a beautiful facility.
The BC Cancer Foundation owns the building, and Henriquez Partners and ICBC Group of Architects proudly designed the architecture in joint venture. Ledcor construction led the way in strategically placing the building in a position to have a LEED Canada Gold Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are a green rating system originally developed by the US Green Building Council to provide recognized standards for the construction industry to assess the environmental sustainability of building designs. The Canadian Green Building Council has since accepted the USGNB LEED rating system to the specific concerns and requirements of building in Canada. They have very specific standards and guidelines that form part of a pointing system that produce an overall rating for the building itself. The building will be evaluated in much more organized categories and details according to the main areas: Site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and regional priority.
In 2004 the BC Cancer Research Centre (BCCRC) was awarded the Georgie award for being one of its kind in meeting the LEED requirements for innovation and intelligence in building such a unique green facility. The Georgie Award is recognized for its stamp of quality in the building industry. The caliber is very high and to win an award of such great stature was a fabulous start for this new beginning in Vancouver. Tiocoat is a major blog sponsor for the environmentally friendly blog campaign; they are a company leading the way in white roof materials.
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The building BCCRC operates continuously therefore the energy efficient strategies included a heat recovery chiller, chilled heated slab flooring throughout the office space, and natural ventilation wherever possible. The design of these energy saving methods meant that traditional mechanical system could be reduced in size, reducing the overall energy usage. The center reduced its use of energy by 42% without relying on harmful HCFC’s (hydrochloroflourcarbons, a form of chlorofluorocarbon, CFC’s). CFC’s and HCFS’s are colorless, volatile, toxic liquids and gases with a fairly sweet ethereal odor. Overexposure at concentrations of 11% or more may cause dizziness, loss of concentration, central nervous system depression and/or cardiac arrthymia. This is why there are environmentally friendly homes and commercial buildings being built.
The BCCRC is a 15-story research building that is home to 600 scientists and medical professionals conducting studies and research into 200 types of cancer.
It is the first healthcare laboratory facility in Canada to achieve such a high level of certification. The building may have cost more than building a conventional facility that would not have the same long terms affects, but the value to build green can be validated, as the impact this massive construction could have had in our environment if it were built not green is mind blowing.
The building has round lab windows that symbolize petri dishes. A petri dish (or petri plate or cell culture dish) is a shallow glass or plastic cylindrical lidded dish that biologists use to culture cells. The office windows are colored to represent an abstract of chromosome 8. Chromosome 8 is one of 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans. There is a helix staircase that alludes to the molecular biology (this is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of a biological activity, including the interactions between the different types of DNA, RNA and protein biosynthesis). The architectural symbolism signifies not only the environmental awareness of the building, but the detailed thought of the activities that take place daily within its walls, ensuring this will be a landmark facility in Vancouver.
As a health research center it was imperative that the indoor environment was a healthy work place. Low emitting finishing materials was selected to contribute to better indoor air quality, which enhanced abundant daylight and operable windows. The B4 basement level houses one of the largest vivarium’s in Western Canada. There is electrical and mechanical equipment housed in the interstitial service floors between each laboratory level, which facilitate major equipment reconfigurations with minimal interruptions to ongoing research. 29% of the construction and finishing materials had recycled content. This included incorporating high volumes of flyash into the concrete mix, reducing the amount of cement.
77% of the building materials were manufactured locally and 26% of the raw materials were extracted locally, and they diverted 98.5% of the construction waste from landfill. Here are some impressive stats on the energy savings alone:
- Annual energy savings predicted to be $381,269
- 49.9% better energy performance than the Model National Code for Buildings for all energy use
- No use of HCFC
- Efficient lighting – 23% lighting power savings
- Lighting code strategies included occupancy and daylight savings
- High performance – low-emissivity windows
- Heat recovery of laboratory exhaust air
- 60% offset of the space heating load from the chiller used
- 85% less energy than the code for space heating
- 90% views from all spaces in the building
Water consumption reduced by 43% with low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals. That seems impossible, yet it was done and simply a genius way to save water. There is water efficient landscaping, which reduces the sprinkler requirements by 76%. That’s big!!! Water is so valued across the world, and to see a
Landmark building like this factor in water consumption features is impressive. The landscaping architect was Durante Kreuk Ltd. The building site is is 21,460 m2 in total.
The BC Cancer Research Foundation is an independent charitable organization that raises funds to support research and care through BC Cancer Agencies. This beautiful facility is home to my very own home, Vancouver. The project was completed a day ahead of schedule, and $6 million under its budget. It is located at 675 10th Avenue West, Vancouver. This amazing facility opened in March 2005 and they were awarded the award of merit for consulting engineers in 2005.
Their genius planning and attention to every detail makes me proud to know this facility is in BC. They also considered that a major concern in our environment these days are the impact that transportation has on our air, environment and all over the world. The BCCRC has electrical plugs for their cars in the parking lot. Hybrid vehicles are well thought of. They have an occupational awareness program in place to educate users on where to purchase electric vehicles. Many commuters travel by bicycle, and they have lockable storage for them too.
As our world becomes more aware of the impact that all materials have in our environment, and as we are able to educate the world at large that being green is not only about water, or paper, or plastics, but it is in every action we take on a daily basis. If we were able to live in homes that were prioritized and built as environmentally friendly homes, then we would start to live with that mindset in everything we do. Starting from roof materials that have flat roof products and water systems that were equipped to save us water, windows that had solar panels, heating savers and so much more, we would all be working towards a greener future together with one common goal – protect our environment!