When Vancouver Island University opened its new Cowichan Campus in 2011, the building demonstrated the university’s commitment to education and to sustainability. The multi-purpose educational facility serves a range of academic, applied, career, technical, vocational and developmental programs. By considering wood first for structural components, interior finishes and aesthetic features, this facility sets a new standard for sustainable practices in the Cowichan Valley; it also meets the LEED Gold standard. Studies show wood has a significant impact on indoor environmental quality, directly benefiting human health and providing greater productivity through improved concentration and lower levels of fatigue for building occupants. The wood in the Cowichan Campus creates a warm, welcoming environment for students, staff and visitors, while offering environmental benefits. Wood was used for interior and exterior support beams, for exterior doors, for wall panels in the theatre, for interior and exterior finishes, and for wide interior window sills. The acoustical ceiling tiles are fabricated from wood. The Cowichan Campus includes state-of-the-art health and science labs, computer labs, classrooms, a 110-seat lecture theatre, cafeteria and kitchen and library commons. It earned an Excellence Award in the education category at the 5th Annual Vancouver Island Read Estate Board Commercial Building Awards.
Aboriginal Feature: Cultural Respect
Vancouver Island University has one of the highest Aboriginal post-secondary participation rates in British Columbia. Wood celebrates the rich culture of Cowichan Valley First Nations people.
Show Leadership: Practice Sustainability
The campus building shows students and visitors the efficiency and effectiveness of a wood structure, with the added benefits of beauty and enjoyment.
A Comfortable, Positive Environment
The Cowichan Campus offers productive and high-quality learning spaces thanks to its use of wood. Research by the University of British Columbia and FPInnovations concludes that wood interiors reduce stress by creating a comforting, supportive environment for both teachers and students.
Wood Panels Absorb Sound
The Cowichan Campus used ceiling panels made with wood, which absorb sound so the building is not as noisy as one constructed totally with steel or concrete. Designers use wood to avoid acoustical issues when sound transmits through a structure.