This is the first passive house dormitory in Canada


The UBCO Skeena Residence complex has 220 rooms, a beautiful common area, and sustainability features. Its integrated design process is energy efficient and adapts to the practical needs of life.

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It was designed by Architecture + Communication Inc., landscape architect WSP and consultants in specialized fields. This is notably the first passive house dormitory in Canada. It is only the second in North America.

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A close up of the walls and individual rooms inside

The Skeena Residence is part of UBCO’s Living Laboratory initiative. The Skeena residence has a monitoring system that collects information on energy consumption and occupant comfort. The 220 students will complete a survey at the end of the year to provide even more data on low-energy living.

A study room where a student is sitting at a white table

In addition, student accommodation consumes a lot of electricity. Students use hair dryers, computers, refrigerators and all sorts of small appliances. The desert environment of the region creates a lot of humidity. This is why the construction of the building emphasized airtightness, insulation and humidity control. The air circulation is renewed every three hours thanks to mechanical systems to prevent mould.

A rest area with benches and large windows.  Doors open to outdoor courtyard seating area

On the other hand, triple-glazed windows prevent energy loss. There is also an eight inch thick mineral wool insulation blanket around the building. The roof is also super-insulated to minimize heat loss. Low VOC flooring and paint were used throughout the building. Meanwhile, low-flow plumbing fixtures help keep water on site. The landscaping is full of native and adapted plants to reduce irrigation needs on the property. Stormwater management provides water for landscaping.

Bright pink spiral staircase

What’s cool is that the building doesn’t need fossil fuels for heating, cooling, or hot water. The building is not even connected to the campus district heating system. It has its own autonomous electrical system and heat pumps that provide heating and air conditioning.

A hallway with a person standing in front of a window in the back

In addition, the mechanical systems are located inside the thermal envelope. Everything is also highly insulated to minimize thermal bridging and condensation damage. Finally, the building is 80% wooden frame, with concrete used on the ground floor.

+ PUBLIC: Architecture + Communication

Photograph by André Latreille


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