North Saanich Middle School on Vancouver Island received a major makeover where wood featured prominently in both structural and finishing applications—offering a firsthand lesson on developing a low-energy, high-efficiency, seismically upgraded building that relied on a hybrid of materials for construction.
- The project featured hybrid glue-laminated timber (glulam), steel and concrete construction.
- The low energy and carbon footprint of wood fit with the LEED gold standard.
- Wood elements throughout create a calm learning environment for young students.
Wood was a natural choice for the LEED gold standard two-storey school because it offers a lower energy and lower carbon footprint as well as is durable, adaptable, and safer in a seismic event. North Saanich Middle School is a hybrid glulam and structural steel, tilt-up concrete building with 14 classrooms and multi-purpose rooms, gymnasium, theatre auditorium and offices. Its green features include abundant natural lighting, high thermal mass tilt-up walls that can absorb and store heat energy, radiant floor heating, and natural ventilation through classroom windows and solar chimneys.
A thoroughly modern lesson in sustainability
The school was custom built for middle-level learners aged 11 to 14, to serve as a model for environmental sustainability and community partnership. The school also has an automatic light adjustment system to conserve energy and a greenhouse to teach children about growing food. Community meetings and events are held in the enlarged gymnasium and auditorium after school hours.
The therapeutic benefits of wood
Wood elements, including wood beams that span student areas, and wood trim and panelling throughout the school provide a tangible connection to nature. Wood is a great choice for schools because it creates relaxed, productive, and high-quality learning spaces with a tangible connection to nature and reduced stress.
“Given the reduced cost and the superior fire rating of wood in its use as a seismic component, it was an easy decision to incorporate this aesthetically pleasing option into the construction of North Saanich Middle School.”
Barry Bodner, FMR Director of Facilities, School District #63 (Saanich)