Wood in Higher Education

Wood as an optimal material to reach sustainability goals

Situated on a forested peninsula on the westernmost point of Vancouver, Canada, the University of British Columbia campus is a 1,001 acre (450 hectare) community of academic, residential, commercial, agricultural and operational facilities.

University polices and guidelines have adopted strong sustainability performance criteria that all building projects and development initiatives must comply with. Under UBC’s Campus as a Living Laboratory (CLL) initiative, the university is developing a sustainability lens for new projects, which determines and evaluates the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of construction and building operations, including methods to measure long-term progress.

The University has determined, through studies such as life cycle assessment (LCA), that wood is an optimal building material due to its structural, aesthetic and low environmental impact characteristics.

Wood-frame and mass-timber construction has been utilized in a variety of UBC buildings. Moving forward, these buildings provide a foundation for the expanded scope of wood in sustainable buildings, as well as demonstrate the important role that cultural significance, technical capabilities, and environmental benefits play in wood construction.

Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), University of British Columbia
Photo credit: Don Erhardt
Wood in Higher Education Case Study

Wood has emerged as a key element in achieving UBC’s sustainable design goals.