Northern Lights College Energy House


Dawson Creek, B.C.


802 square metres



Structural Engineer


Project Materials

Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)




Structural Systems

Hybrid / Other

Low rise

Passive House / High performance

Post + beam


Designed to showcase the warmth and beauty of exposed wood

  • The mandate was to use locally sourced wood and hire local trades.
  • All of the Douglas-fir and western red cedar wood used for the tongue-and-groove ceiling millwork, wood-finished walls and glue-laminated timber (glulam) cabinetry and counters came from local forests.
  • All areas used by students and staff are lit with natural light.

Energy House at Northern Lights College is a multi-use facility that demonstrates clean energy technology and enlightens students and visitors on the efficiency, effectiveness and beauty of wood products. Energy House is the focal point of the school’s Centre of Excellence that provides training in clean energy technology, and it is located in Dawson Creek where the winter months dip to minus 40°C and energy efficiency is crucial. Wood construction is an ideal choice for education institutions that want to set a good example by moving toward a more environmentally responsible approach to design and construction.

The wood medium was the message

All the wood used in the project was locally sourced and contributed to the provincial economy, including the tongue-and-groove ceiling millwork, wood-finished walls and glulam cabinets and counters. Concrete shear walls were used to deal with seismic loads but all other structural components are wood with the exception of a few steel columns and steel connectors necessary for the glulam connectors. All walls are wood stud construction infilling between the shear walls and the glulam post-and-beam construction.

Showcasing the latest in green technology

The building was built to LEED Platinum standards. Its heating system produces enough energy to heat the main campus. Pine beetle affected wood from the area is used in pellet form to fuel the building’s biomass boiler, which heats the main campus. A geo-exchange system provides heating and cooling for Energy House.