James Park Elementary School


Port Coquitlam, B.C.



Structural Engineer

RJC Consulting Engineers

Project Materials




Structural Systems

Light frame

Low rise

Passive House / High performance

Wood achieves a smaller environmental footprint and seismic benefit for this elementary school

Exposed wood provides warmth and beauty to this 370-student Port Coquitlam elementary school. The two-storey building used as much wood as possible to support British Columbia’s Wood First Initiative and to meet LEED Gold standards for energy-efficient design.

  • A state-of-the-art, energy-smart building that is LEED certified.
  • Flexible wood-frame construction can withstand the force of an earthquake.
  • An inward sloping butterfly wood roof is dramatic and practical too.

When the British Columbia Ministry of Education replaced 100-year-old James Park Elementary School in Port Coquitlam as part of the Seismic Mitigation Program, it used as much wood as possible to create a healthy indoor environment and a smaller environmental footprint. Wood products are lighter than other building materials and put less stress on the foundation and structure. Also, wood-frame construction flexes, which means it can absorb and dissipate the force of an earthquake. The two-storey school meets LEED Gold standard, offers elementary and full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs, and houses a variety of community-based services. It was designed to meet the needs of students for 50 years.

A beautiful butterfly wood roof

The energy-efficient school has a wood roof, wood paneling in the hallways, and wood trim throughout. But it’s the unique inward sloping butterfly roof that stands out—a dramatic inversion of the standard gable roof. The amply exposed wood roof construction adds warmth and calm to classrooms and at the building’s entrance. The roof is designed with practical benefits, too, with a drainage system that means reduced silt and pollutant buildup because of an oversized gutter that directs rainwater to catchment pillars on either end.

Open, bright and relaxing learning environment

The James Park Elementary School builds on the tangible connection wood has to nature and the outdoors. Its classrooms all have windows leading to a south-facing learning commons, and it has an exterior covered learning patio. The visual appearance of wood trim and paneling throughout the School offers students and teachers a comfortable, safe environment that reduces stress.

Wood is energy smart

A consumption dashboard near the school’s main entrance illustrates the building’s energy efficiency and offers green tips and demonstrations. Wood products adjust and moderate the humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture in order to maintain equilibrium with the adjacent air. Studies show this can also reduce operational costs.

“James Park Elementary is an excellent example of a modern, 21st-century learning environment. It will provide current and future students, teachers and community members with a safe, comfortable building to work, learn and explore.”

Ivano Cecchini, Executive Director, Facilities & Planning Services, School District #43