The Okanagan College Child Care Centre was a lesson in using locally sourced mass timber products to help achieve an extremely high insulation value with relatively low energy use, within a 10-month construction schedule.
- The building uses just one-quarter of the energy that a comparable conventionally built commercial building would require.
- Students from the sustainable construction program were involved in the design and construction of the Passive House building.
- All forest products were harvested and milled within the Okanagan region.
Okanagan College Child Care Centre—which provides daycare for the children of faculty, students and the local community—was the first institutional building in Canada to meet stringent Passive House certification requirements. The wood-framed structure uses just one-quarter of the energy that a comparable commercial building would require. Aside from its sustainability benefits, the design team chose wood because it was a cost-effective building material that could be installed quickly.
Wood helped team achieve insulation values
Wood helped the team achieve their goals of a high R-value R-72 for Passive House certification for the walls. Double-stud walls were framed using 2 x 4 spruce-pine-fir (SPF) dimension lumber, then sheathed with plywood on both sides. High-performance adhesive tape was used to seal the plywood joints inside and out, and cellulose insulation was blown in between the 51-cm-thick stud walls. Pitched and parallel-chord wood trusses were used for the roof. As with the walls, the wood trusses provided the depth needed to get high R-84 insulation values.
Local sourcing helps a tight budget and schedule
The design-build team completed the project in just 10 months. It helped that all forest products were harvested and milled within the Okanagan region. The structure was framed with double-stud exterior walls, wood trusses, cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the entrance canopy and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) for window and door headers. Inside, they used birch wall paneling in the central corridor. Douglas-fir was used on the interior door and window frames.
A lesson in sustainable construction
Students from the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program were involved during design and construction of the Centre, gaining first-hand experience in Passive House technology. Carpentry students from the Trade and Apprenticeship program were able to observe the building process.
“Wood fit well with our philosophy on this project that less is more. It’s tempting to want to try something new, but we needed to build this facility quick; we didn’t have time to experiment. Part of the benefit of using wood in a high-performance structure like this is that you’re working with something that’s familiar, easy to get and locally available. Our tradespeople know how to work with wood.”
Nicholas Hill, President and Owner/General Manager, Ritchie Contracting and Design